It's December and all over people are already in full gear for Christmas. If you're like me, you're ready to jump into the festive bucket lists and enjoy the many traditions of the season... but if you're like me, you also realize that those wonderful lists you see on Pinterest aren't always feasible. Whether you live in a place without snow, a country that doesn't really celebrate Christmas, you're on a budget this year, or you're just plain busy throughout December, I've compiled a list for you.
While I enjoy all the holiday experiences as much as the next person, I realized that it's easy for the Christmas season to get swamped in all the to-dos (however exciting and fun they may be) and the whole reason behind why we celebrate can easily get buried. On top of that, I can't be the only one who feels guilty when my Christmas ends up looking less like cookie-baking for friends and more like last-minute gift-bag making for our church program. What I'm saying is, it's ok if your Christmas doesn't look like a Hallmark movie. What your Christmas should be, however, is full of love, light, and laughter.
So here is my Christmas bucket list, created especially for the busy person in mind. Who might that be, you ask?
WHO IS THIS LIST FOR?
1. If you're in ministry or heavily involved in various outreaches, you know how hectic December can be. While you're busy organizing church events and ministering to those around you, sometimes mailing personalized cards to all your friends and acquaintances or baking a whole batch of handmade cookies from scratch for all your neighbors isn't as much on your radar.
2. Perhaps you're in college, travelling, or in between locations. It's really difficult to set up decorations, cook large meals, or attend shows if you're not really rooted in one place. Especially if your holiday season involves a lot of travel (looking at my international friends!) then you know how much of your time can get taken by flying or jet lag. All you really want is a strong cup of coffee and time with your loved ones.
3. Maybe you're a new mom. Or a well-established mom, for that matter. Forget the pressure to have a home like you see on Instagram if that's not your deal. What really matters is if you're making memories with your family, and turns out, you can do that with the simplest joys. On top of that, Mom, you deserve a little extra special loving at Christmas-- but before you say you don't have time, again, this is a list for busy people.
4. Lastly, you might just be an individual with a lot on your plate in December. Do you work retail? Are you a first responder? A teacher? Are you navigating seven different family parties while playing the sheep in your local Nativity pageant? Whatever it is, I can guarantee many of us feel the weight of busyness creeping in during the holiday season. If that's you, keep reading.
THE 5 ELEMENTS TO MAKE CHRISTMAS FULFILLING, BEAUTIFUL, AND FESTIVE
The truth is, a lot of the rush is unavoidable. For all the articles that advocate for slowing down and being mindful (which is great) we have a real life mom of two with hot chocolate stains on her shirt or a pastor's wife running on God and coffee or a student in the midst of finals, packing, and a mental breakdown all at once. What can you do but blast some Christmas carols and keep plowing ahead?
Actually, though, I've found some of the merriest moments and some of the most mindful actually come in the little spaces of time in between the hurry and the noise. Your Christmas doesn't have to be twenty five days of chill Bing Crosby, marking off all the proper festive experiences, and journaling to be beautiful for the soul.
In my opinion (and you're welcome to disagree), Christmas requires a few ingredients to make it good:
1. A return daily to the reason behind the holiday. It's all about the Gospel, and if your outlook isn't reflecting the goodness of that, then what's the point?
2. A spirit of joy and gratitude. Not every moment is going to be great, because this is life, and bumps happen along the way. That said, if your spirit overall chooses joy and gratitude consistently throughout the season, you will find that it builds up and overflows.
3. A quiet reflection. It's ok if this quiet reflection happens while driving to the grocery store, or squeezed into a walk in the woods, or sitting with hot chocolate late at night before bed. What matters is that it happens, at least here and there. How can we sing Silent Night without allowing ourselves at least a little time to experience the wonder found when we allow our soul to grow still?
4. A reaching out to other people. Christmas really does benefit from an outward AND an inward perspective. So along with the chance to reflect, I believe it's also important to reach out. This doesn't have to be grand gestures (unless you want to and are able to). It can be as simple as a note on Christmassy paper for your teacher, or donating to kids in need.
5. And lastly, a purpose to connect. It's surprising how easy it really is to get so focused on your to-do list that you forget to actually take the time for connection with those closest to you. The notion that connection has to happen over scrumptious dinners is nice, but it doesn't have to be that. It can be reading picture books to the little ones in your life, checking in on your mom with some holiday coffee, or messaging a friend you haven't talked to in a while.
All that said-- the list below has twenty five ideas that cover all five of those points just mentioned. And don't worry... these are simply ideas! You can choose to incorporate ones you like, or maybe it'll spark a new idea for you. (If so, definitely leave a comment to share!) So let's get into it.
25 CHRISTMAS BUCKET LIST IDEAS FOR BUSY PEOPLE
1. Make fancy hot chocolate or lattes. There's something about cozy drinks that instantly give you a chance to savor the moment while also boosting your mood. Why not grab some seasonal creamers or flavorings, some whipped cream, marshmallows, and an array of sprinkles for an elevated latte or hot chocolate? This is something that's easy to put together without much thought but just adds a little something special to the day. It's great to enjoy alone or with family.
2. Try a new recipe. Christmas is all about the baking and cooking, but it's ok if that's not your thing. It can be exciting to try one new recipe, though, and it doesn't have to be anything fancy. The best thing about food is that it's such a social experience if you want it to be. Some ideas I love? An amazing rustic soup, a quick winter sausage pasta, orange cardamom trifle, or toffee pretzels.
3. Take a walk to view lights or beautiful nature. There's something really wonderful about enjoying Christmas lights while seeing your breath in the air, but if you live in an area where there aren't many Christmas lights or it's just not your thing, a walk in nature is just as lovely-- if not more. Whether you trek through snowy woods or watch the desert get chilly as the sun sets, a moment to breathe is sometimes all you need to realign yourself on what really matters.
4. Read some seasonal short stories. It's great to have a long to-be-read pile of Christmas books, but if you're on the go all the time, you probably don't have the time to invest into long hours of reading. So try the alternative-- short stories, picture books, or even one-hour novella reads bring all the joy of Christmas reading in smaller packages.
5. Have a no-screen day. If you can find the chance, a no-screen day can be an excellent break for your mental health as well as freeing up some time for you to focus on other things, like those around you. While technology certainly has it's advantages (especially around the holiday season), a step back can be a good way to take in what's around you instead of on what everyone else is doing.
6. Have breakfast for supper. There's something just so cozy about a breakfast for supper, so while it's not strictly a Christmastime only activity, I think it still carries the right spirit. Whether you're a pancakes person or an omelette and bacon person, breakfast for supper is fun, warm, and cheery. Don't forget the orange juice!
7. Invite a friend for coffee. In the rush of the Christmas season, set aside an hour or two to grab a coffee with a friend. Not only will you get a chance to connect and catch up and share some smiles and encouragement, but you also get coffee, so it's a win-win.
8. Pick up some cozy candles. Nothing says holidays like the scent of spruce, cinnamon or vanilla filling the air. Choosing some candles is enjoyable in of itself, and then having them around throughout the month to light elevates the Christmas spirit so much.
9. Go out of your way to do something nice. It doesn't have to be what everyone else is doing, and it definitely doesn't have to be a nerve-wracking or time-consuming ordeal. What matters most is if you can find ways to step outside of your normal routine and out of your comfort zone for just a bit to bless someone around you. It can be anything, from paying for someone's groceries in line to dropping off a pastry and coffee for the new mom in your circle, to making a foster child's Christmas gift wishes come true, sending Christmas boxes to children around the world, donating coats and other items to homeless shelters, or asking your pastor if there's anything you can do for them during this busy season.
10. Have a relaxing bath. Whether you're a bubble bath person or an essential oils person, a nice relaxing bath can be a good way to unwind after a long day. You can read, listen to music, or just completely chill.
11. Send photo messages to loved ones. Especially if you have family who live farther away, it can be difficult finding ways to connect over a distance. The internet makes it easy to send messages, but also photos! You can go fancier and create a virtual photo book, or you can simply attach photos with captions to an email and send them to loved ones.
12. Have a movie night. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but movie nights are not only super cozy but also a nice way to relax if you've been running around all day. It's especially fun if you make it an event to remember with family or friends. Grab the popcorn and some comfy blankets and let the movies begin.
13. Follow an advent devotional/book. An excellent way to keep your focus on what really matters is by following an advent devotional or book. Daily readings about the birth of Jesus, the Gospel, or even the qualities of Jesus that we should be displaying can help us grow and learn as we make the reason of the season personal.
14. Try stovetop potpourri. For a unique option instead of candles or essential oil diffusers, try stovetop potpourri! By combining different fresh fruits, spices, and more you can create a heavenly aroma while it also acts as a natural humidifier for your house (and let's face it, in many areas winters can get pretty dry!).
15. Grab a disposable camera and take snapshots through the holiday season. Disposable cameras are relatively easy to get and it can be a fun and interesting way to capture moments during December by taking shots on film. Get it developed in January and you'll be able to relive all the great memories once more.
16. Make your space festive. Whether your space is your bedroom, a desk space, or the whole house, take some time to make your space festive. This doesn't mean you have to spend tons of money or time to create a magazine ready look-- whatever works for you and brings cheer to your area is what you should do.
17. Leave cookies and candy canes for your neighbors. A nice way to spread some Christmas joy can be by dropping off goodies for your neighbors. Candy canes, anyone? While it's easy to feel the pressure to bake homemade treats for everyone you know, if that's not a practical option for you, that's ok. A tin of butter cookies, a Christmas cake, or even some nice cinnamon rolls from a bakery are all still delicious. The important thing is showing you care.
18. Get a cute holiday thermos or travel mug for hot drinks. If you're on the go a lot, consider getting a cute holiday thermos to keep your drinks hot while you're running errands and getting things done!
19. Play holiday music. Christmas carols and songs are some of the best parts of the holiday season, so crack out some vintage records, create a holiday playlist, or blast the Messiah as you go about your day. Bonus points if you share your playlist with a friend!
20. Make Christmas bark. Christmas bark is not only delicious but it's extremely simple to make, and there are so many variations. If you want a quick and easy Christmas treat to make, this is a great one to try. One of my family's favorites is "White Christmas"-- white chocolate with crushed candy canes, but the options are endless .
21. Video call a friend or relative who lives far away. Again, distance can be difficult especially during the holiday season. Make a point to utilize the blessing of technology by video calling your friends or relatives who live far away. Connecting with loved ones is important, so you should definitely take advantage of our modern day conveniences.
22. Make a blessing stocking. A cute idea to remain present and grateful each day is by writing down something you are thankful for on a piece of paper and storing it in a stocking. On Christmas day, take them all out and read them! This could be done as an advent type situation, or you can begin this a year in advance, place blessings in it throughout the year and read a whole year's worth of wonderful things.
23. Take dinner to someone who would appreciate it. There are so many people who would appreciate a meal, as well as the thought and love that comes with it. It can be something extremely simple, but it's such a nice way of blessing someone else. From single mothers to senior citizens to those who may be struggling financially, to your pastor's family, it just takes a little consideration to make someone's day.
24. Throw birdseed out or feed ducks. For a nice way to just enjoy the moment while also enjoying some cute animals, try throwing out some birdseed or going to the pond to feed ducks (if they are around where you are at this month). The nice thing about throwing bird seed outside of your house, though, is that you can enjoy seeing the birds come and eat from the comfort of your own home.
25. Make your phone season-ready. Last but not least, an easy way to add a little extra Christmas vibe is to get a festive wallpaper for your phone. There are so many free ones to choose from (just try a Pinterest search), and I've also created some just for you today! It only takes a minute to update your phone's look, but it gives an extra special touch to something you most likely see multiple times a day. Why not go for something you know will make you smile, or perhaps remind you of what's best about the season?
You can even get these three wallpapers in desktop version, if that's more your speed!
So there you have it-- A bucket list for busy people at Christmastime, full of cheer and small wonderful moments and thought. Wishing you all the best, most merriest Christmas.
If you have any ideas you love, drop a comment below to share! I'd love to hear them.