I’m writing this bucket list cuddled up on the sofa, early on a Sunday morning. Nobody else is up yet, the autumn/winter sun (my personal favourite kind of sun) is coming through the window and I’m thinking I need a peppermint tea to make this truly cosy. I also have a folky Winter playlist on (I’ll link it here), because if I start listening to Christmas music before December then I’ll never stop. But, we’re still going to start talking about Christmas, because hey – it’s only one more day until December! All of the blog’s December content is going to be seasonal so I thought I’d kick it off with a classic bucket list, shall we?
I always love bucket lists. They might just be a list of silly things to celebrate the season, but I feel like they give me a chance to write a little more creatively and to spread some love and appreciation for the season. Find the rest of my bucket lists here.
Quickly! This is the first festive post of the year, but every blog for the next month will be Christmas themed so make sure to follow my socials or join my newsletter so you don’t miss any!
“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
Of course, this comes high on the priority list. From what I’ve seen online, it looks like most people have already ticked this one off, but if you haven’t yet – it’s time to get decorating! I feel like there’s something so warming about a day spent decorating. The smell of attic dust, the littering of Christmas tree spikes on the floor, the rustle of tinsel – yes. Accompanied by some Christmas music and a film, some good food and a couple of drinks (whether you opt for warming and comforting or something a little spicier).
I can’t go home to decorate with m family this year, which does make me very sad, but I’m also excited to get some of my own Christmas decorations and to decorate with the boyf.
This is a joyous season for food. The cold evenings and days call for the sweet, warming scents of baking. There are so many traditional bakes to go for: mince pies, gingerbread, Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, truffles, cookies, yule logs, fruitcakes, biscotti, panettone, the list could go on.
Write Christmas cards
I know it’s a massive waste of paper and I know it’s something not a lot of people do anymore, but this year – not being able to see people as much, I think Christmas cards could be a really sweet way of saying the Merry Christmases you can’t say in person. I’m definitely going to be sending them to the family I can’t see.
Winter Walks & Hunt for Christmas Lights
Yes, I know I put this in every bucket list ever, but I really do think there’s something special to appreciate about every season’s weather. I love a winter’s walk. Sure, sometimes they’re a little too cold, but going out early afternoon before the dark sets in can be really nice, especially when the ground hardens up a little more. There’s something cosy about wrapping up, hat, scarf, gloves and all, and braving the winter chill that feels so right, and so rewarding when you cosy up when you get home. Not to mention it keeps us all active during the sitting-down season.
One way to distract yourself from the cold of a late evening walk is to hunt for decorations. You can also do this in the car, going out looking for the best decorations in town.
This is one of my favourite Christmas things to do. I love locking myself alone in a room, surrounded by colourful paper and all the gifts I’m excited to give everyone. I always leave wrapping pretty late, because I love wrapping all in one go and I don’t think I’d be able to contain my excitement otherwise.
This can be so many things, a gift, a decoration, a game, a food, whatever you feel inspired to make. Personally, I always love a little handmade gift – normally something edible, I’m not very arty – and I try to make a big batch of something every year. In the past, I’ve done chutneys, hot chocolate, biscuits, mince pies. This is a great activity to do with loved ones, as well as by yourself, and especially good with kids. During the busyness of the season, it can be nice to take a break and focus on making something for an afternoon. The internet is full of inspiration so get out there and find something to make!
Have a games day
It’s the season to be a kid again and how better to do that than by spending a day playing games? This could be your classic board games, cards, videogames (‘tis the season to smash everyone at Mario Kart), trivia – whatever games you love. I recently got the Xbox Game Pass on my Xbox and have been trying out a ton of new videogames. But, I’ll be sure to play some board games too – you can’t beat the classics.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the ice rinks will be able to open safely this year. I’ve only been a handful of times, but ice skating has become one of my winter traditions. Sure, you end up with some injuries, but I love nothing more than being out on the ice. I always think the evening is the best time to do it when they turn on all the colourful lights around the rink. My nearest rink, in Brighton, is set in front of the Brighton Pavillion, which is a pretty building without the lights and Christmas music, but with, it’s perfect.
Connect with an old friend
The nature of the festive season is always a good reminder to catch up with old friends. My old school friends and I have an accidental tradition of getting together every Christmas when everyone comes back to our home town. Make sure to reach out to some old friends and to relatives you haven’t seen in a while.
Make festive food & drink
Besides baking, there’s a wealth of other Christmas foods and drinks to make. Hot chocolate (in all the fun festive flavours! If you need a vegan recommendation, the Cadbury’s mix that says to ‘add to milk’ is a great everyday hot choc!), roasted chestnuts, mull your own wine and cider, make popcorn, festive cocktails and roast everything edible in sight.
Perfect your Christmas playlist
I may or may not have started doing this already (no… definitely not an excuse to listen to Christmas music early). You don’t want to be faffing with music on the big day, so make sure you spend some time collecting all of your favourite Christmas tunes into one playlist.
Attend a Christmas themed event
There are tons of events around designed to put you in the Christmas spirit. Whether it’s a Christmas light lighting ceremony, a pantomime, a nativity or a show, cuddle up in your warmest clothes and head out for the evening to soak up the Christmassyness.
Do something charitable
It’s always been a tradition in my family to make sure you do something charitable for Christmas. My personal favourite charity to donate to at this time of year is Great Ormand Street Hospital. You can donate and write a message on a stocking to be hung up in the hospital. I suppose it’s because Christmas is a time with children as its focus that I choose Great Ormond Street, but whatever your chosen charity, consider doing something for them for Christmas.
Full list of charitable Christmas ideas coming next week!
Go Christmas shopping
Yes, it’s pretty easy to do everything online now, but there’s something about the bustle of the shops before Christmas that is a must-do for me. I also think it’s the source of so much spontaneous gift inspiration. Wrap up, face the shops and soak up the festive atmosphere.
Grab a Christmassy outfit
You can take this down whichever path you’d like to – be it the sparkly, sequined flashy Christmas outfit, the ugly Christmas jumper or a festive pair of pjs. Even go the extra mile, a festive pair of slippers, do your nails and makeup a festive colour, or refuse to wear anything but red for the season.
One of my favourite things to do at Christmas is snuggle up with a festive film. I found out this year that my boyfriend has barely seen any Christmas classics so I’ve made a long list of the films we need to watch over the season. Polar Express is my family’s Christmas Eve tradition, but there are so many classics: The Grinch, Nightmare Before Christmas (a Halloween film? Christmas film? Both?), A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street.
Christmas film list coming to the blog later this week!
We couldn’t not talk about books, right? Admittedly, I’ve never read a Christmas book, but I’m making an effort to read one this year. A Visit From St. Nicholas (commonly, The Night Before Christmas) and A Christmas Carol are obvious classics, but there’s also a ton of modern Christmas books too.
Have a holiday party
Even if you can’t go out and socialise too much this Christmas, make an effort to have a Christmas party at home. I love a good Christmas do, getting dressed up all sparkly, braving the cold, Christmas festivities, decorations, food, drink and gifting.
Visit a Christmas Market
The perfect weekend afternoon activity, visit a Christmas Market, treat yourself to a mulled wine or cider, and wander the stalls. This can be a really great place to find unique Christmas gifts for your family and friends and a great way to support small businesses.
Host a Secret Santa
One of the best things to do at Christmas with your friends! This is a great thing to get going at work or within your friend group. We do one annually with our friends and it always means a lovely festive filled day and a very entertaining gift-giving ceremony.
Head out for a Christmas meal
Especially here in the UK, I think escaping to a warm, firelit pub for the night is the perfect treat for a cosy Winter’s evening out. Go for classic hearty pub grub, a warming mulled drink and soak up the cosy atmosphere. Check out this list ✨
Make the most of the weather
For most of us, this’ll be chilly walks and enjoying the rain (from the safety of the sofa), but if you’re lucky enough to get some snowfall, make the most of it! Break out the sledge, have a snowball fight, build a snowman and spend the day outdoors, before seeking refuge in the cosiness inside.
Come up with a new tradition
These ideas are all great, classic Christmas things to do, but I think the best traditions are the ones individual to each household. My family always walk down to our local pub on Christmas Eve for a drink by the fire, before coming home and watching Polar Express. My mum and I make a day out of doing the Christmas decorations, aided by very loud Christmas music (and the attached singing) and lots of snacks. Last year my family challenged each other to make a homemade gift each – we had mishmashes of home videos, photo puzzles, snacks and homemade games that made the day really fun.
Of course, some of these things are a little tricky this year, but don’t let that crush your Christmas spirit! Make the effort to recreate your usual traditions at home, facetime family and friends, make cards for those you’d usually visit, wrap up and have a conversation through a window – whatever it takes to stay safe and still appreciate and enjoy the holidays.
Merry Christmas, one and all. Love, Ella-Rose xx