Christmas Bucket List Ideas for Families
Have you started working on your Christmas bucket list yet?
Bucket lists are fun to make as a family any time of year.
Having a holiday bucket list of ideas is great because it’s a chance to plan some fun holiday activities as a family. And there are plenty of fun Christmas activities that you can do without spending a lot of money!
Need some ideas for what to include on a Christmas wish list for kids? I’ve rounded up some of the best Christmas activities for families to help you make the most of the holiday season!
Related post: How to Get Super Organized In Time for Christmas
50 Fun Christmas Bucket List Ideas for Families
1. Host a holiday movie marathon
Did I mention I LOVE Christmas movies?
If you do too, schedule one night a week (or every night!) to get together as a family and watch your favorite holiday flicks. (This one is always a crowd-pleasing holiday favorite!)
2. Try some easy (and delicious!) holiday recipes
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is making all the foods we don’t normally eat the rest of the year.
If you don’t have any traditional holiday foods yet, get together as a family and choose a few recipes to try. It’s a great way to spend time with the kids and maybe them some basic cooking skills along the way!
3. Perform a random act of kindness for the 12 days of Christmas
A little kindness can go a long way.
Doing some random good deeds as a family can help kids get in the habit of being in the holiday spirit all year long. It’s a great addition to your Christmas bucket list if you’re looking for a way to give back together.
4. Attend your local Christmas parade or tree lighting
This is one of the fun holiday activities that’s always on our Christmas bucket list.
We go to our town’s tree lighting on Friday, followed by the Christmas parade on Saturday morning. It’s fun, festive and best of all, free!
Check to see if a tree lighting or Christmas parade is happening where you live. Then bundle up with some warm blankets and a thermos of hot cocoa for a fun holiday activity!
5. Make homemade cinnamon ornaments
Making salt dough ornaments is a fun holiday activity. But those things can be tricky if your dough isn’t just right.
These cinnamon ornaments, on the other hand, are easy to make and they smell great!
6. Play Christmas bingo
Bingo is fun for a family game night any time but it’s extra fun when it has a holiday spin!
This Christmas bingo printable is free to download and can keep kids busy for hours.
7. Start a Christmas countdown
Counting down to Christmas is a fun holiday bucket list item for kids of all ages.
If you have smaller kids, you could try making paper chains to count down to Christmas. And older kids can keep track using a Christmas countdown calendar.
8. Set up a hot chocolate bar
Who doesn’t love hot cocoa?
It’s cheap and easy to make. And you can set up a hot cocoa bar so kids can add in all their favorite toppings.
This is one of those fun holiday traditions you can carry on through the winter when you need a warm-up on cold nights.
9. Choose one special ornament to add to your tree for each family member
This is one of the Christmas traditions we still follow, even now that my kids are tweens. We pick ornaments that reflect things that reflect their personalities.
If you don’t have a Christmas ornament tradition with your kids yet, then definitely add this to your Christmas bucket list!
You can buy ornaments or make them. And it’s fun to pull them out each year to see how your kids’ interests have changed!
10. Have regular Christmas read-alouds
I still read aloud to my kids and while we’ve shifted from picture books to novels, it’s a family tradition I won’t give up any time soon.
If you want to get your kids into reading, Christmas read-alouds are a fun holiday activity that can help!
Need some ideas on holiday books to read? Here are some of the best Christmas books for kids.
11. Make your own eco-friendly gift wrap
Want to save money on wrapping paper? Try making it instead!
You can use paper bags, newspaper, construction paper, fabric–just about anything can work. And it’s a fun Christmas bucket list idea to keep kids busy and occupied for an afternoon!
12. Try the “4-gift challenge” to save money
Starting a 4-gift rule can cut down on the “stuff” your kids get at the holidays. And it’s one of the best holiday traditions for saving money.
It works like this: you limit each child to four gifts only:
- Something they want
- Something they need
- Something to wear
- Something to read
This is a simple holiday tradition that can help you keep your focus on what’s really important over the holidays.
13. Roast marshmallows in the backyard under the stars
It really doesn’t feel like the holidays for my kids until they’ve burned a bunch of marshmallows to a crisp.
Grab some graham crackers and chocolate and these fun roasting skewers and you’ve got the perfect recipe for s’mores–and a little family togetherness.
14. Host an indoor snowball fight
Do you dream of a white Christmas?
Snow is great for lots of fun holiday activities, including sledding and building a snowman.
But if you live someplace that doesn’t get a lot of snow you can still have fun with an indoor snowball fight instead!
15. Make a DIY Christmas angel ornament
Making Christmas ornaments is a perfect holiday bucket list idea if your kids love doing crafts.
You can make Christmas ornaments from just about anything. But if you want to make something special, this DIY Christmas angel ornament is perfect for celebrating lost loved ones.
16. Create felt photo ornaments for everyone in the family
Do your kids love posing for pictures?
If so, you could add making photo ornaments to your Christmas bucket list!
Felt photo ornaments don’t cost a lot of money to make and it’s almost like creating a holiday time capsule.
Each year, you can pull your ornaments out from the year before to see just how much your kids have grown.
17. Make DIY Christmas stockings
Buying new Christmas stockings each year can get expensive. Making your stockings is a low-cost way to keep this holiday tradition alive.
You can find just about everything you need to make Christmas stockings at Dollar Tree. This is another super simple but super-fun Christmas bucket list idea to try!
18. Build a gingerbread house
Gingerbread house building is a staple for any Christmas bucket list!
You can buy a gingerbread house kit or two and let the kids have at it. Or if you’re really ambitious you could try making gingerbread from scratch.
(And I won’t tell if you end up eating the gingerbread instead!)
19. Or try a candy cabin instead
This idea is too cute to pass up when you’re making a holiday bucket list!
It’s a fun twist on gingerbread houses and you can always snack on the leftover building materials. 🙂
20. Look at holiday lights
No holiday bucket list is complete without taking in the sights and sounds of the season.
If you don’t want to pay to go somewhere far away to see holiday lights, check out what’s on display in your neighborhood or the one next door.
It won’t cost you anything besides your time (and gas if you’re driving around the neighborhood) but the memories can be priceless.
21. Make a family Advent calendar
We celebrate Advent at our house and every year, we do something different.
This DIY version is great for saving money and working on a family project together.
And if you don’t have time to make an Advent calendar you could always buy one. There are lots of fun Advent calendar options on Amazon.
22. Hit the dollar store to do some low-cost shopping as a family
Planning a special shopping trip is a good way to have some quality time and you don’t have to spend a lot.
Give each of your kids a $5 budget and spend an hour at the dollar store picking out gifts to exchange.
23. Make ornaments out of old Christmas cards
I’m not the sending Christmas cards type but I always get them.
I hate to throw them away so repurposing them into Christmas ornaments is just plain genius!
24. Fill a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child
If you don’t know, Operation Christmas Child helps to provide holiday gifts for needy kids around the world. It’s a great Christmas bucket list idea if you’re looking for ways to serve as a family.
The best time to do this is in November when they have a national collection week but it’s not too late to get your box packed and mailed out in December.
You can pick up inexpensive items at the dollar store and drop them off at a collection location near you!
25. Play Secret Santa to save on gifts
Secret Santa is something we did when I was a kid and it’s still a fun holiday tradition.
Everybody takes turns drawing names and then gets a small amount of money to spend on a gift. Or better yet, you could encourage everyone to draw names and make gifts instead!
26. Organize a candy cane hunt
Scavenger hunts are fun any time of year if you ask me.
But you can add a holiday twist by creating a candy cane hunt around the house. And once you round up the canes you can use them to decorate the tree, add some minty flavor to hot cocoa or just enjoy them as a sweet holiday treat!
27. Mix up some winter slime
Got a kid that’s obsessed with making slime?
Trying out a seasonal slime recipe is a great fun holiday activity. This winter slime kit is perfect for keeping curious minds and hands busy at Christmas!
28. Play holiday charades
I like playing charades with my kids but I guess I’m terrible at it because they can never figure out what I’m trying to act out.
If you’re better at acting than I am, you could try a round of holiday charades using your favorite Christmas movies, books or songs as inspiration.
It’s a fun holiday bucket list idea that costs nothing!
29. Try some holiday-themed STEM activities
Anything science-related is a hit with my kids.
If yours are the same way, you’ll want to try these holiday STEM activities for hours of educational fun!
30. Make your own holiday cards with washi tape
Washi tape is pretty to look at and it doesn’t cost a lot of money. You can find everything you need at the dollar store or Amazon.
Grab a few rolls of holiday washi tape, some cardstock and a few holiday stickers and let your kids go at it with making their own holiday cards!
31. Whip up some magical reindeer food
Do your kids love leaving out cookies and milk for Santa?
This year, you could add making reindeer food to your Christmas bucket list if you’re looking for a new spin on an old tradition.
32. Write a letter to a solider for Operation Gratitude
Your kids might write letters to Santa but you could put a new spin on it by writing to a soldier.
A little holiday cheer can go a long way for a soldier who’s far from home during the Christmas season. And this is another holiday bucket list idea you can try if you want to do good for others as a family.
33. Make gingerbread pancakes for Christmas morning
Normally I make a breakfast casserole for Christmas morning, but I’m thinking it’s a good year to try these gingerbread pancakes.
And if you try them and doesn’t work out, you can whip up a regular batch and make them Christmas-y with some green and red food coloring.
34. Track Santa’s progress on Christmas Eve
If you include Santa in your holiday traditions, this is a simple and fun holiday activity to enjoy on Christmas Eve.
I’m a little dubious on whether my kids still believe in Santa but we still check the Norad tracker each year just in case.
35. Buy some matching holiday pajamas for the whole family
If one of your rule of 4 gifts for kids includes pajamas, why not get some for the whole family?
Matching holiday pajamas can make the perfect addition to a family holiday photo. And they can provide plenty of cozy comfort through the cold winter nights.
36. Visit a thrift store to find some ugly holiday sweaters, then have an ugliest sweater contest
Ugly Christmas sweaters are one of my favorite things ever. The other day I begged my daughter to let me buy her one that had cats in Santa hats all over it but she bah humbug-ed me and said no.
If your kids aren’t as Grinch-y as mine, round them up and head to the thrift store. Get the ugliest Christmas sweaters you can find, then have a fashion show/contest to see which one is the worst.
37. Check to see if your local aquarium or museum sponsors a free Festival of Trees event
Going to the aquarium is fun most any time but it’s especially nice at the holidays.
Check to see if your local aquarium or museum sponsors a Festival of Trees event. For a nominal fee, you can walk through and check out all the beautifully decorated trees, plus get in a little learning in on the side.
38. Make a meal and deliver it to a neighbor in need
Chances are, you have at least one neighbor who’s spending the holidays alone. Making them a nice meal or some holiday baked goods and hand-delivering them is a good way to check in and let them know they’re not forgotten.
If you want to go a step further, you could invite them to share in your family’s holiday dinner.
39. Have Santa send your kids a personalized video message
Video messages from Santa weren’t a thing when I was a kid so this is one of the holiday traditions I came to embrace once I had kids of my own.
Your kids might get a kick out of receiving a video message from Santa. And you can personalize them for the perfect added touch.
40. Create a family newsletter to send to relatives who live far away
When your family is spread out everywhere, it can be hard to stay up to date on what’s happening with everyone.
Sending out a family newsletter is a nice way to keep in touch and let them know you’re thinking of them over the holidays.
This is a fun Christmas bucket list idea the whole family can work on together. Even smaller kids can draw pictures to send if they’re not writing just yet.
41. Donate a gift or two to a local Giving Tree
If you don’t know what a Giving Tree is, it’s a tree that has tags with a person’s age, gender and one item that’s on their Christmas wish list. You pick a tag, buy the gift that’s on it and drop it off so it can be delivered to the recipient.
You can usually find Giving Trees at Walmart stores during the holiday season, though other stores might have them as well.
I let my kids each choose one tag and I pick one as well. It’s a simple way to show kindness for strangers during the holidays.
42. Schedule a once-a-week holiday family game night
I love playing board games with my kids, even though I always lose without fail.
Holiday-themed games are a great way to mix up your regular family game night.
43. Attend a candlelight service on Christmas Eve
If you’ve never been to a candlelight service on Christmas, it’s something special.
At our church, they sing carols by candlelight and say a special prayer at the end of the service. It’s very calming and a nice reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.
44. Declutter the house and donate gently used items to families in need
If the holiday season means a pile of gifts coming into your home, why not declutter and get rid of some of the things you don’t need?
Instead of tossing them out, you can donate items that are still in good shape to another family that could use them.
45. Have a contest to see who can find the Christmas pickle
Okay, so I had never heard of the Christmas pickle until I got married but I assure you, this is a real thing.
It’s one of those fun holiday traditions that no one really knows exactly how it got started but once you get into it, you’ll wonder how you ever did Christmas without it.
46. Pop open some Christmas crackers
Christmas crackers look like so much fun and you don’t have to live in the UK to enjoy them.
You can take turns popping them on Christmas Eve but remember, wearing the hat isn’t optional!
47. Make New Year’s resolutions as a family
Setting New Year’s resolutions or goals is a great way to reflect on the year gone by.
Spend some time on New Year’s Eve mapping out what you hope to achieve as a family in the coming year.
48. Donate food, bedding and other needed items to your local animal shelter
Every year we donate food, chew toys and other pet-related items to our animal shelter.
Since two of our three pets are rescues, it’s our way of giving back to organizations that foster fur babies until they can find homes.
If you have a local animal shelter, consider making a donation to support your furry friends!
49. Create a holiday playlist and sing along to your favorite Christmas carols
I don’t know about you but I start playing Christmas music on November 1.
If your family has some favorite holiday tunes, create a playlist for the road and have your own version of carpool karaoke.
Or stream holiday music at home to get your entire house in the Christmas spirit!
50. Put together a holiday puzzle as a family
I’m including this last Christmas bucket list idea because my mom is a puzzle nut. They are literally all over her house.
Holiday puzzles can be fun to do as a family on Christmas Eve or any time during the holiday season when you’d rather have a cozy night at home!
How do I make a holiday bucket list?
Making a holiday bucket list starts with deciding what kind of holiday season experience you want to have.
Maybe you want to slow down as a family and enjoy some old holiday traditions. Or maybe you want to create some new holiday traditions together.
Figuring out what’s most important can help you decide what to include in a holiday bucket list. From there, you can start brainstorming ideas as a family.
Get the kids involved and ask them what they’d most like to do during the holidays. Then prioritize which activities you want to plan for, based on how much time and money you have to complete them.
I’ve got a free Christmas bucket list printable you can download that kids can use to share their ideas!
What should I put on my Christmas bucket list?
The number one rule for making a Christmas bucket list is that you should include items that are fun for you and your family.
Putting things on a holiday bucket list just so you can check them off and say you did them really sucks the joy out of the season.
So as you make your Christmas bucket list, think about what’s going to help you and your kids enjoy the holidays the most.
Cross off anything that you don’t really have time or money for. And ditch anything that sounds like more work than fun in the long run.
Taking this approach can leave you with a holiday bucket list that you’ll actually look forward to completing.
Final thoughts on making a Christmas bucket list
There are so many great Christmas traditions you can start as a family. And having a holiday bucket list to follow can make sure you don’t miss out on any opportunities to create magical Christmas memories?
Do you have some favorite fun holiday activities you enjoy as a family? If so, head to the comments and tell me about it!
Be sure to check out my favorite Busy Mom Resources for saving time, money and stress. And of course, you can grab your free holiday planner in the Busy Mom Vault if you haven’t yet!
Ready for more ideas for Christmas? Here are some ideas on how to get organized for Christmas now!