10 Beautiful Christmas Traditions to Start

Make Christmas magical together as a family. Here are 10 beautiful Christmas traditions to start this year.

10 beautiful Christmas traditions to start

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Growing up in a Catholic family, I loved going to midnight mass. It was the one time of year I was allowed to stay up late. The church was lit with flickering beeswax candles and bright red poinsettias were scattered over the alter. The choir filled the nave of the church with beautiful Christmas hymns. It was such a magical, spiritual experience. Traditions like this are so special. They create memories for us to look back on and think of fondly. They can also connect us at a time where busyness can overshadow the true meaning of Christmas.

There are lots of traditions you can start like taking holiday photos together. Perhaps you take them in front of the tree in the same positions so you can watch everyone change and grow throughout the years. Here are 10 beautiful Christmas traditions you can start right now.

10 Beautiful Christmas Traditions to Start

Light An Advent Wreath

In the Catholic Church as well as the Luthern Church, Advent wreaths are used to celebrate the four weeks in the liturgical calendar leading to Christmas. The wreath, also contains 4 candles. Traditionally, three purple and one pink. Sometimes there is white candle in the center. Some protestant wreaths, particularly in Europe use red candles. The candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world. Each week one candle is lit and is accompanied by prayers, scripture reading or Christmas devotional. Each week, an additional candle is lit until Christmas arrives and they are all lit. In the Catholic Church, this is typically done during the celebration of the mass, but it is also very common to have an advent wreath at home.

You don’t need to be of a certain denomination to use it. The wreath is about taking a moment of solemnity to remember the reason for Christmas – Christ and his coming into the world for us. If you’re looking for an Advent Wreath, I recommend these below.

10 Beautiful Christmas Traditions to Start
Courtesy of Pexels

Celebrate With an Advent Calendar

In our family, we celebrate the holidays by using an Advent calendar. An advent calendar counts down the days of Advent (4 weeks) before Christmas. Normally, each day on the calendar has a door, window or pocket to be opened one per day as you count down. Traditionally, a chocolate, trinket, or small toy is placed as a gift for whomever opens the door.

In my family, we don’t put gifts in it. Instead, we put memory-making activities on slips of paper. Every day, we remove the slip of paper and read that evening’s activity. Some are simple, like making hot chocolate together, watching a Christmas movie, or reading Twas The Night Before Christmas. Other are more time-intensive like building a gingerbread house or doing a Christmas craft as a family. To read my full list of activities see my post, The Ultimate Christmas Bucket List.

I can’t begin to tell you how special this has become to our family. With all the crazy rushing of Christmas, this helps us take some time as a family every evening and make Christmas magical for each other. Here are some of my favorite Amazon Advent Calendars.

Watch the Polar Express In Pajamas

One thing we do with our kids every year is watch The Polar Express. True to the story, we wait until it’s bedtime and once the kids are in their pajamas we surprise them with the movie. We serve hot chocolate at the same time they are serving it aboard the train to the kids. I even give my kids a golden ticket and a bell. It makes for a very special, magical evening. It’s something my husband and I really love doing for our kids.

Read the Nativity Story in Luke

One easy, beautiful tradition you can start is by simply reading the Gospel as a family. With all the focus on gifts, Santa, and holiday parties, the true reason for Christmas – Christ – can be easily swept under the rug. Taking time out as a family to read the living word of God helps to instill a focus on Christ. The most descriptive version of the nativity story can be found in Luke Chapter 2:1-20. We like to read it on Christmas Eve fireside.

family at Christmas

Ornament Exchange

When I married my husband, I learned his parents had kept a beautiful tradition going for forty years. Every year, the two exchanged ornaments. It had almost developed into a playful competition that the kids, now grown, still enjoyed witnessing. So when my husband and I got married, we agreed to continue that tradition. It’s actually quite special. It’s fun to hunt for that perfect ornament and it’s a lovely gift to look forward to on Christmas morning.

The exchange doesn’t have to be between mom and dad. It can be between anyone. Kids and parents. Siblings. Grandparents. Use your imagination. It doesn’t have to be bought either. One thing our family does as a tradition is make ornaments every year as a part of our advent calendar. My husband and I also collect them from everywhere we travel. One of our trees in our home is an eclectic mix of our collected ornaments over the years. We often gaze upon them and recall all those special trips and moments when we got them.

Help the Less Fortunate

Christmas is a time for giving alms, that is, filling a material need for someone who is less fortunate than us. As Christians, we are called to acts of charity towards our fellow brothers and sisters and Christmas seems to inspire a giving attitude.

Our family does several things at Christmas time. First, we give to the bell ringers of Salvation Army. You can find them outside departments stores. This is especially meaningful to me. You see, when my mom was a child they were very poor and she was the recipient of the used, donated toys from Salvation Army at Christmastime. Second, we fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child through Samaritans Purse. For some children, it is the first gift they’ve ever received. Moreover, it is an opportunity to introduce the love of Christ around the world as the program continues to minister to the children through a discipleship program.

Lastly we find local charities to help. We donate food to our local food pantry. In addition, we donate goods to our two main homeless shelters SAMMinistries and Haven for Hope. If you have children, get them involved. Instill in them a spirit for helping others. Christmas time is a great opportunity to spread the love of Christ with acts of kindness.

Make a Hot Chocolate Bar

Hot Chocolate is a staple of winter. I love making hot chocolate. More importantly, I love turning it into a fun event for my family and friends. For about seven years, I’ve been making a hot chocolate bar. Fill a slow cooker with hot chocolate so everyone can serve themselves. Then offer loads of toppings, syrups, and flavors. Kids love loading their cups with marshmallows and candies.

I make it fun for adults too. I love to include adult liqueurs like Frangelico, Bailey’s, Kahlua, Amaretto, etc. It’s actually quite fun to see adults get excited over it and every year people ask me about it. I set up the bar at the beginning of the season and it stays up all December. Then I keep the dry toppings in mason jars. I screw them up when they aren’t in use and open them up when gets come and make a hot crockpot of hot chocolate.

Read my post How to Make a Hot Chocolate Bar for the exact instructions on how to make one! By the way, I have the very best hot chocolate recipe you’ll ever have! You’ll never use another one after you try it.

Hot chocolate bar

Get Your Craft On

When it’s cold outside, indoor activities like crafting can be a fun way to spend time together. As I mentioned earlier, one thing we do is make an ornament every year. I also send out homemade Christmas cards to all our friends and family. It’s like my personal gift to each and everyone of them.

In fact, in my first marriage, my in-laws had a very special idea. One year, instead of buying gifts, we made gifts. This was one of the most special Christmases I’d ever had. It was amazing to see what everyone came up with. My ex-husband found some copper pipes left over from a house repair and put together a gorgeous copper wind chime. I broke down some old chipped dishes into pieces and created a mosaic trivet for my mother-in-law. Everyone came up with different ideas. I can’t even describe how taking the commercialism out of presents affected us. There was something so magical about that Christmas!

There are lots of things you can make and you can turn it into a family affair. Last year we made some DIY Christmas swags. It’s super easy! Even if it’s a total Pinterest fail, the memory of how awful it was will become one of those funny family stories. It’s all about making memories. Here are some things you can try:

  • Handmade Christmas cards
  • Homemade gifts
  • Make Ornaments
  • Gift Tags
  • Paint nutcrackers
  • Christmas sign
  • Make a Wreath or Garland
  • Hand stamped wrapping paper
  • Festive Decor

Look At Christmas Lights

This may not be a new one for you, but I’m including it because I think it is underestimated at times. Since we’ve been married, my husband and I have made this an annual tradition. Neighborhoods are fun to explore, but we enjoy a local commercial light display even more. We go to Santa’s Ranch, which is drive-thru property full of more than 1.5 million lights.

We bring lots of warm, cozy blankets and hot chocolate in a thermos, Christmas cookies, and sweets. Then pile in the car with Holiday tunes on the car radio. We always ask friends or family to come with us. It’s such a fun way to spend a frosty evening!

Additionally, some places to a live nativity. If you’ve never been to one, it’s impressive! These are often done by churches. They use sets, live people and animals to recreate scenes from the nativity story in the Bible. Normally you either walk or drive through the scenes. It’s so beautiful! Simple pleasures spent together are often the memories we cherish.

Christmas Eve Boxes

If you haven’t heard of Christmas Eve boxes, I’m excited to tell you. Christmas Eve boxes are curated boxes you give to family members in anticipation of Christmas. Think of them almost like gift baskets filled with everything they need for Christmas Eve night.

Some people only prepare them for the kiddos while others treat the adults to the fun-filled Christmas box too! Because, we’re all kids at heart, right? Traditionally, the boxes include pajamas, snacks, a Christmas book, and or a movie.

You don’t have to necessarily put them in boxes. I know someone who stuffs stockings with all the goodies. You can find my full tutorial on how to make Christmas Eve boxes here. I have lots of ideas on what to fill them with.

Make Christmas Magical

I hope you’ve enjoyed these 10 Beautiful Christmas Traditions to Start. Be sure to PIN this post for later and share it on social media to inspire others. Also, before you go be sure to subscribe to my blog for FREE printables, giveaways and other fun goodies. Have a Merry Christmas!

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50 Acts of Kindness for the Holidays

50 Acts of Kindness for the Holidays you can do by yourself or as a family to bring the magic of Christmas to the hearts of others.

50 Acts of Kindness for the Holidays
Courtesy of Unsplash

I try to do acts of kindness throughout the year, but during the holidays I’m especially mindful to do them. As my kids get older, it’s a tradition I love to do with them. I want to instill the habit of doing good in the world.

As a Christian, I believe we are supposed to be a light in a dark world. We should be an ambassador for Christ, showing his love through acts of love, kindness, and mercy. Even if you aren’t a Christian, you can’t deny the affect that kindness has on the world. Whatever the motivation, the holidays seem inspire random acts of kindness.

Choosing What Not To Do

Save Your Judgement

Now before I list some of the things my family does, I want to preface it. Kindness doesn’t have to cost anything. Kindness is as simple as paying someone a compliment or holding the door open for someone. Maybe it is returning someone’s cart or giving someone your place in a long line. Sometimes kindness isn’t what you do, but what you choose NOT to do.

For instance, the next time you see something you disagree with on Facebook, choose to extend mercy by scrolling by instead of hammering someone with your opinion. In fact, one of the places in most desperate need of kindness is social media. Everyone is so quick to judge and condemn others. The world doesn’t need your opinion about everything. Instead, commit to being a peacemaker and withhold your sanctimony. After all, you and me are incredibly flawed. Choose to be kind instead of being “right.”

Forgiveness

Just recently, I’ve seen some horrible acts of unkindness. In one instance, a man at a craft store couldn’t tell where the line started and accidentally cut in front of someone. The woman he cut off, went up the counter and started slamming her fist and screaming at him. The man apologized and explained, but she was unmoved by his apology and continued yelling inches away from his face. The man left broken and shamed.

Another time, I saw an older man come into a parking lot and nearly clipped someone. He parked beside me. The woman he cut off, parked her car directly in front of his, blocking him from getting off and entering the store. She then proceeded to get out of her car and yelled obscenities at him through the window. It was an accident and it’s not like he crashed into her. It was a near miss, but she was determined to draw blood for it.

Things aren’t going to go our way sometimes and when that happens we have a choice. We can respond with kindness or viciousness. Over the years, I’ve learned most people don’t intentionally set off to ruin our day. They’re busy, distracted, or simply make a mistake. Give someone the benefit of the doubt. One way to spread kindness is simply by extending someone forgiveness. Show someone undeserved love. It’s that kind of mercy that inspires others to be kind. It has a ripple effect.

50 Acts of Kindness for the Holidays

  1. Leave a basket of treats to thank mail carriers
  2. Let someone cut in front of you in line at a store
  3. Organize a group to sing carols at a nursing home / retirement community
  4. Offer to babysit a friend’s kids so they can get a date night out
  5. Bring a crossing guard or traffic directing police officer coffee or hot chocolate
  6. Donate canned food to a food drive
  7. Give a stranger a gift card
  8. Donate a toy towards a toy drive like Toys for Tots
  9. Put up Christmas lights for an elderly neighbor
  10. Make a Christmas care package for a far away friend or relative
  11. Let someone know you’re thinking about them with a holiday card.
  12. Give to a charity
  13. Donate pet food at a local pet shelter
  14. Donate blood or plasma (it saves lives)
  15. Volunteer at a shelter
  16. Surprise someone with scratch off lottery ticket
  17. Donate blankets or coats to a shelter
  18. Volunteer at a food bank
  19. Return shopping carts in parking lots during the busy shopping season
  20. Tape coins to a vending machine and treat someone to a snack
  21. Help an elderly person with yard work
  22. Donate change for bell ringers
  23. Give a server a generous tip
  24. Walk a neighbor’s dog
  25. Pay off a school lunch debt
  26. Host a book drive for Operation Paperback
  27. Donate used toys to a battered women’s shelter or orphanage
  28. Pet sit for a family who is out of town for the holidays
  29. Say a prayer for someone
  30. Hide a dollar in the toy section of a dollar store
  31. Drop off treats to a fire or police station
  32. Volunteer at church
  33. Donate your wedding gown to a baby who has died
  34. Gift diapers to a family with an infant
  35. Pay for a strangers meal or coffee
  36. Give someone your parking space
  37. Invite someone with no family to spend Christmas with you
  38. Let someone go ahead of you in traffic
  39. Send a thank you note to a soldier
  40. Hand out gloves and mittens to the homeless
  41. Pay for someone behind you at the drive through window
  42. Babysit for a single mom
  43. Take a homebound or elderly person to church
  44. When you disagree with someone on social media, choose to stay kind instead
  45. Bring in your neighbor’s trash bins
  46. Call an old friend
  47. Do something unexpected for your spouse
  48. Bring in goodies for your co-workers
  49. Pick up trash
  50. Give up your seat

Being kind is fun and it makes you feel good. I hope you enjoy doing 50 Acts of Kindness for the Holidays. PIN this post for later and share on your Facebook wall to get others involved.

Take a look at some of my other Christmas activities in The Ultimate Christmas Bucket List. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season!

Retro Sequin Ball Ornaments

Learn how to make beautiful retro sequin ball ornaments in this DIY tutorial

diy retro sequin ornament christmas craft handmade ornament

Every year, our family makes ornaments as part of our Advent calendar. Our Advent calendar is filled with holiday centered activities that we do as a family. It’s a fun way to take time out of the busy holiday season and actually celebrate and experience Christmas. My family has grown to love it and each year we each choose our own ornament we’d like to make. This year, I choose retro sequin ball ornaments.

Making this ornament is fairly easy, just time-consuming. Surprisingly, I found it to be a relaxing exercise! I hadn’t made one of these in years, so I was a little rusty. So I’ll share how I made these and what I learned from the mistakes I made!

SUPPLIES

  • Wire, approx 3-4″
  • Styrofoam ball 2.8″
  • Small pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Sequins
  • Craft pins
  • Ribbon / String / or Ornament Hook

handmade ornament supplies diy sequin ornament

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Before you begin, take a wire (in a pinch you can use a large paper clip). Insert the wire in the top of the ball ornament. Push straight through the center. You can do this at any point. However, I’d recommend doing it before you put sequins on. If for some reason you don’t go strait on your first attempt, you may destroy the hard work you’ve done. Therefore, I recommend doing it before you begin decorating. This will create a way to attach an ornament hook or string for hanging.

2. Once through, trim wire on the top and bottom to about a centimeter.

3. Using pliers, curl each wire end into a loop. This stops the wire from sliding on either end and will allow you to hang it.

4. When it comes to sequins, you can choose any that you like. I choose silver and gold since one of my trees is themed that color. You can choose different size sequins as well. I recommend putting them in ziplock bags or containers to control the mess or if you may need to clean off you workspace before you’re finished.

5. You’ll need craft pins. Some come with a decorative head and others have a flat head. I used short pins, but I recommend using larger ones. I found that using short pins are easily pulled out. The longer the pin, the more reinforced it is.

6. You decide on the design and how many colors you use. I did opposing triangle shapes surrounded by gold. If you need to, you can draw an outline on the styrofoam it will eventually be obscured by the sequins.

7. If you’ve never used sequins before, you want the sequins to be placed with the facets facing upwards. This allows for maximum shine. You can choose to layer the sequins as I did. I put the smaller ones on top of the big ones for added interest and texture.

8. Next, add your sequins, making your way around the ball trying to close any gaps you see, to the best of your ability.

9. Once done, add your ribbon or ornament hook. It’s now ready for hanging!

If you’re looking for more fun things to do at Christmas time, see the post The Ultimate Christmas Bucket List

Retro Sequin Ornaments first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

Hot Chocolate Bar

A Hot Chocolate Bar is a fun way to entertain and feed your guests at the same time. It’s always a huge hit at my holiday parties. Today, I’m sharing how to create an awesome hot chocolate bar your guests will love. 

Hot chocolate bar

I love entertaining. I love creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere for family and friends to flock to. But even more specifically, I love when people are actually excited to come. When they start asking me months in advance if I will be hosting something, I know they enjoy it. For the last 6 years or so I’ve done a hot chocolate bar during the holidays. I’ve been shocked to learn how much guests love this. They’re talking about it even weeks after the event. So today I’m going to share how I create a hot chocolate bar.

I will share all the things I’ve learned through (mistakes and) the years. Guests naturally want something to do. They enjoy being entertained. Guests also typically wait to be served and even being the first one to slice into a dish can be awkward. So giving them something that they can’t wait to dig into is a great ice breaker. The hot chocolate bar also get your guests to serve themselves and be happy about it! It takes the pressure off you to constantly refresh drinks. I have found the hot chocolate bar is a total win all the way around! Let me show you how to do it!

How To Set Up Your Hot Chocolate Bar

Slow Cooker Recommendations

I recommend using a slow cooker to keep your hot chocolate warm over several hours. The size of the slow cooker is dependent upon how much you are serving.

There are 4 cups to a quart. Consider that one cup is about 8 ounces. Most mugs and disposable coffee cups are typically around 12 ounces which is greater than a cup. Also consider that guests may have more than one cup. Here is what I recommend:

  • 3-4 qt slow cooker for 8-12 cups
  • 5-7 qt slow cooker for 12-20 cups
  • 8 qt slow cooker for 20 or more cups

The slow cooker can hold more than I’ve recommended, but when the contents are piping hot, it is best not to fill the slow cooker to the rim. Always use caution when leaving hot appliances around your guests.

The Hot Chocolate

You may have your favorite hot chocolate recipe. However, if you’re struggling to find a good one, look no further. I have the best hot chocolate recipe you will ever find! It’s creamy and decadent. It’s absolutely delicious and always has rave reviews from my guests. I’m always asked for the recipe, so I’ve shared it here.

I’m going to give you a great tip: Reynolds Slow cooker Liners are the best invention ever! Okay, maybe not the best like electricity or running water, but still amazing. I don’t use a lot of disposable things, but I highly recommend these. They make cleaning your Crockpot a 30 second chore. They fit all slow cookers. No scrubbing or soaking your dirty slow cooker. Just put the liner in like you would a trash bag on a trash can. When you’re done, gather and toss in the trash. Easy! You can find the in the store near the Reynolds wrap and sandwich bags.

Cups and Mugs

For small get-togethers I recommend using glass cups or mugs. In an intimate setting, actual dishes create a cozy, personal atmosphere. Don’t be afraid to pull out your beautiful china that rarely gets used. If you’re saving it for the Queen, I hate to tell you this, but she’s never coming. Don’t save it. The time is now.

Disposable cups are great for large parties. Otherwise you will need to keep a constant supply of fresh cups. If you don’t have many, you’ll end up spending the evening chasing down used cups for washing. After many years of hosting I can tell you, people set their cups down and can’t remember which one was theirs, so they simply grab a new cup. It creates endless work for you if you’re hosting a large party.

If you’re hosting, particularly a large party, prepare yourself for spills. They can and will happen. I highly recommend doing what you can to minimize spills and the ensuing damage they cause. That means, getting disposable cups with lids! They actually do help. I also recommend getting sleeves for cups, because even though everyone knows hot chocolate is hot, burns still occur. Do your part as a host to make things safe. I’ve inserted a link on this page to the ones I use. They aren’t fancy, but the neutral color means I can use the unused cups for any other parties during the year.

Toppings

This is where the fun begins. For whipped cream, I just put the can of spray whip in a bowl with ice. The really fun part is watching your guests pile on chocolate mints, peanut butter, or marshmallows. Cherries, nuts, butterscotch and caramel are all great additions. Adults love when you provide liquors along with the toppings. Great options are rum, coconut rum (Malibu), Irish Cream (Baileys), Raspberry (Chambord), Hazelnut (Frangelico) and Coffee (Kahlua). In my Hot Chocolate Bar Printable, I’ve included different pairing recipes!

Here is a tip: I put the toppings in mason jars. This is especially helpful if you’ll be using your hot chocolate bar for several events. Fill your jars with toppings. Label them, so people don’t have to guess or taste test. Make sure to provide spoons or some utensil for serving and to avoid cross contamination. When not in use, pop the lid on and put it away or just leave it on the set up (if it doesn’t need refrigeration).

Decorations

The theme you do is totally up to you. My personal favorite is galvanized metal, buffalo plaid, and kraft paper, but feel free to try things out. If you are super uncreative and have no idea how to pull it together, look no further. I’ve made a Hot Chocolate Bar Printable to help you! Buy it and follow the instructions. Print the sign on photo paper and put it in a document frame or trim it down to size and put it in an 8×10 frame. Print out the labels on full sheet sticker paper. Then cut out and stick them to your favorite container. Pair with red napkins and accessories.

In the Hot Chocolate Bar Printable, I’ve included

  • A Buffalo Plaid Hot Chocolate Bar Sign
  • Labels for Toppings
  • Adult and Child-Friendly Recipes (to encourage creativity)
  • Shopping List

Other Stuff

  • Use a spoon rest to minimize sticky counters. (If you don’t have a spoon rest, a bowl or bread plate works just fine)
  • Always place napkins at your bar. Spills and drips happen.
  • Place coasters where your guests congregate to minimize damage to furniture. (Liquid and heat damages wood)
  • I suggest using stirs for people to stir their mix-ins. They create much less waste than disposable spoons.
  • Paper straws or wooden spoons also add a special touch.

That’s it! I hope this post inspires you to do something fun! I’d love to hear what fun things you do at your parties!

Learn more about the Best Hot Chocolate Recipe you’ll ever find!

If you’re looking for other tools to help you at Christmas, try my Christmas Planner Printable
Continue reading “Hot Chocolate Bar”

The Best Crockpot Hot Chocolate

I’m making you a promise. This is the best Crockpot Hot Chocolate you’ll ever make. It’s super rich, chocolatey, and creamy. Best of all, it stays hot in the crockpot so guests can serve themselves all night!

Crockpot Hot Chocolate

Christmas isn’t Christmas without hot chocolate. Today I’m sharing one of my most favorite recipes. I make this all the time during the holidays. Sometimes just for us, but mostly, I make it for parties and get-togethers. It never fails. Someone always asks for the recipe. It’s that good. I promise that this is the last hot chocolate recipe you’ll ever use. This Crockpot Hot Chocolate is very rich because it’s made with milk and heavy whipping cream. Semi-sweet chocolate chips are melted into the hot milk and it’s sweetened with condensed milk. The result is steaming cup of chocolatey goodness.

Later this week, I’ll be sharing how I set up a Crockpot hot chocolate bar to entertain your guests (Sshh….it also gets them to serve themselves – don’t tell anyone). I’ll show you how to set up toppings so that it is a fun, entertaining activity that gives your guests something to do. Here is a preview to my Hot Chocolate Bar Printable available for sale on Etsy and in my blog store.

 

 

Crockpot Hot Chocolate

The best hot chocolate you'll ever make, this easy recipe is made in the crockpot - perfect for entertaining or crowds. 
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 5 mins
Course Dessert, Drinks
Servings 12 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Condensed Milk 14 oz can
  • 1 1/2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 Cups Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 6 Cups Milk
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract

Instructions
 

  • Combine all ingredients in to a slow cooker. 
  • Heat slow cooker on low setting. Cover and let chocolate melt.
  • Stir frequently until chocolate chips and condensed milk are fully incorporated. Allow 2 hours to reach full temperature
Keyword chocolate, crockpot, entertaining, hot chocolate, slowcooker

The Ultimate Christmas Bucket List

Get into the Holiday spirit, by completing the Ultimate Christmas Bucket List.

The Ultimate Christmas Bucket List
This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.
(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

When my husband and I got married, we decided to start a tradition. We started an activity Advent calendar. Instead of stuffing our advent calendar with sweets or small toys, we fill it with activities. This has really helped us bond as a family. It creates memories for our children and encourages us to spend time together. Starting December 1, we do a Christmas or Holiday themed activity every day as a family.

It’s a wonderful way to get you out of your rut and into the Christmas spirit. We use an actual advent calendar with the activity written on little slips of paper. These are easily moved around if our schedule changes. Every year, I rotate a few of them out. If you don’t have an advent calendar, you can simply write them on your calendar. Alternatively, you can put the slips of paper in a jar or you can use the FREE Christmas Advent Calendar printable I’ve made for you. Just cross them off as you complete them. I’ve listed 75 different activities you can do to complete the Ultimate Christmas Bucket List. Some require planning, while others can be done in a moment’s notice.

advent calendar
Our Advent Calendar

The Ultimate Christmas Bucket List

1. Bake Gingerbread Cookies

2. Watch Home Alone

3. Trim the Tree

4. Make a Christmas Wreath

5. Take a Family Christmas Photo

6. Make Christmas Candy

7. Watch It’s a Wonderful Life

8. Build a Gingerbread House

9. Make an Ornament

10. Visit Santa

11. Read the Polar Express

12. Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas

13. Go to a Holiday Party

14. Drink Hot Apple Cider

15. Go Sledding

16. Visit a Christmas Market

17. Build a Snowman

18. Watch Elf

19. Read Twas The Night Before Christmas

20. Bake and Decorate Sugar Cookies

21. Enjoy Eggnog

22. Go Christmas Shopping

23. Send Christmas Cards

24. Watch A Christmas Story

25. Wrap Gifts

26. Listen to Christmas Music

27. Attend a Performance of The Nutcracker

28. Make Paper Snowflakes

29. Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater

30. Watch Love Actually

31. Drink Hot Cocoa

32. See Christmas Lights

33. Go Outside and Make Snow Angels

34. Make a Popcorn Garland

35. Watch The Polar Express in Your Pajamas

36. Host or Attend a Cookie Exchange

37. Mail a Letter to Santa

38. Hang Mistletoe

39. Watch White Christmas

40. Go Ice Skating

41. Find a Fun Way to Display Christmas Cards

42. Give Gifts to Your Neighbors

43. Make a DIY Gift for Someone

44. Watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

45. Cuddle by the Fire

46. Read the Nativity Story from the Bible (Luke 2 & Matthew 1)

47. Do a Random Act of Kindness

48. Watch or Read How the Grinch Stole Christmas

49. Attend a Tree Lighting Ceremony

50. Watch or read A Christmas Carol

51. Make Sugar Plums

52. Send a Care Package to Someone in the Military

53. Watch Miracle on 34th Street

54. Roast Marshmallows

55. Donate to a Toy Drive

56. Go Christmas Caroling (find carol lyrics here)

57. Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas

58. Thank a Mail Carrier

59. Hang Stockings

60. Volunteer at a Homeless Shelter

61. Watch Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

62. Make Mason Jar Snow Globes

63. Attend a Holiday Party

64. Attend or Host a White Elephant Gift Exchange

65.  Make a Christmas Centerpiece

66. Create an Advent Wreath

67. Watch Christmas Chronicles 

68. Attend Christmas Mass or Church Service

70. Research and Share How Other Countries Celebrate Christmas

71. Make Fudge

72. Watch Jingle All the Way

73. Cut or Choose a Christmas Tree

74. Make Your Own Gift Wrap (kraft paper & paint)

75. Decorate Your Porch for Christmas

Printable Preview

Struggling to Get Organized for the Holidays?

Then you need my Printable Christmas Planner! 25 Pages of Organizational pages. Track your budget. Create a Black Friday Wishlist. Use the Online Order Tracker to make sure all your gifts arrive. Save recipes. Keep all our travel info on one page. And more!

Christmas Planner Printable

The holidays are so chaotic. Staying organized can be a real challenge! Today, I’m offering a great tool to help keep you sane and keep you on task with all the things you have to do during the holidays. My Christmas Planner printable will make your life so much easier this Christmas!

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Get organized and control chaos this holiday season. This planner will help you stay on task of holiday hosting, traveling, baking / cooking, as well as shopping and gift-giving.

WHAT YOU GET:

24 Planner Pages!

GIFT GIVING / SHOPPING:

– Gift Idea List
– Stocking Stuffer Ideas
– Christmas Budget Worksheet
– Gift Idea Profile (for those who are hard to shop for)
– Gift Tracker, Long Version
– Gift Tracker, Short Version
– Online Order Tracker
– Black Friday Wish List / Tracker

MEAL PLANNING:

– Menu Plan with Grocery List
– Recipe Page

EVENT PLANNING

– Christmas Eve Daily Planner
– Christmas Day Daily Planner
– Party Planning Worksheet

OTHER:

– Planner Covers – Bar Style
– Planner Cover – Open Wreath
– Planner Cover – Full Wreath
– Undated November Calendar (Use this planner every year!)
– Undated December Calendar
– Christmas Card Tracker
– Christmas Decoration Inventory
– Travel Plans Itinerary
– Christmas Bucket List
– To Do List
– Notes Page

FORMAT: Letter Size (8.5″ x 11″) in PDF – You’ll need Adobe Acrobat 5.0 or later or some other .PDF viewing software.

** THIS ITEM IS AN INSTANT DOWNLOAD. NO PHYSICAL ITEMS WILL BE DELIVERED **
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Order Now CHRISTMAS PLANNER PRINTABLE

OR order through my Etsy store My Beautiful Mess Blog Etsy Store

THIS PLANNER IS UNDATED ~ USE IT YEAR AFTER YEAR AND NEVER BUY AGAIN!

Disclaimer: Colors vary from printer to printer and also very slightly from web to print.

The Best Fall Bucket List: 50 Fun Ways to Celebrate Autumn

Crackling fires. Football. Chilly nights. Pumpkin spice everything! Welcome Fall with The Best Fall Bucket List: 50 Fun Ways to Celebrate Autumn.

The best fall bucket list

My husband and I started a tradition when we got married. We have a Christmas advent calendar. For 25 days, we celebrate Christmas by doing something Christmas or winter related every day. I can honestly say, it absolutely gets us out of our rut and into the spirit. It’s a great way to spend quality time together and to make memories.

So this year, I decided to do the same thing with fall. It’s been so much fun and the kids love it too. Here are 50 ideas that you can do to get that into the Autumn mood.

Also, I’m giving away a free printable to help you plan your fun-filled Autumn Calendar. You’ll need to make sure you have Adobe Acrobat or other pdf viewing software to view and print it.

The Best Fall Bucket List

  1. Take a Nature Hike
  2. Make a Fall Wreath
  3. Decorate Pumpkins
  4. Watch a football game
  5. Drink Spiced Pumpkin Latte (my recipe here)
  6. Go Black Friday shopping
  7. Visit a Haunted House
  8. Make a Costume
  9. Make & Drink Hot Apple Cider
  10. Decorate Your Porch for Fall
  11. Go Camping
  12. Stargaze in Your Backyard
  13. Plant Fall Flowers
  14. Bake Pumpkin Bread
  15. Watch a Scary Movie
  16. Go Apple Picking
  17. Visit a Pumpkin Patch
  18. Build a Bon Fire
  19. Read a Scary Story
  20. Try a New Fall Recipe
  21. Explore a Corn Maze
  22. Roast Pumpkin Seeds
  23. Light a Fall Candle
  24. Look at the Fall Foliage
  25. Plant Fall Vegetables
  26. Go On a Hayride
  27. Start a Gratitude List
  28. Make a Fall Floral Arrangement
  29. Decorate Your Mantle for Fall
  30. Visit a Farmers Market
  31. Roast Marshmallows in the Fire
  32. Read by the Fireplace
  33. Play Touch Football
  34. Make Carmel Apples
  35. Bake Fall Themed Sugar Cookies
  36. Plan a Fall Family Photo Shoot
  37. Bake a Pumpkin Pie
  38. Play In the Leaves
  39. Attend a Fall Festival
  40. Make S’mores
  41. Attend a Halloween Party
  42. Go Trick or Treating
  43. Have Fun Apple Bobbing
  44. Bake an Apple Pie
  45. Visit a cemetery
  46. Learn the Thriller Dance
  47. Listen to Halloween Themed Music (playlist here)
  48. Build a Scarecrow
  49. Make Caramel Corn
  50. Try a New Fall Craft

Thank you for reading. Don’t forget to PIN this post for later and share it on your Facebook wall. Also, before you leave please subscribe to my blog for future posts, giveaways and FREE printable every month.

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Christmas in our New House

Christmas decorating is always my favorite. I have several trees in every room. Even though its just the two of us, I think its important to make an effort to be festive and make traditions.

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