I love the Holidays. Not only is it a time to celebrate togetherness, but it’s also a great way to introduce and practice memorable holiday traditions. The beauty of traditions is that every family has their own, unique to them. And every year you can experience the same tradition in a brand new way.

christmas cookies

I can remember it now. The smell of Christmas morning as I walked into the living room. Egg brunch and cinnamon rolls baking in the oven. The third pot of coffee brewing in the kitchen for my parents to wake themselves from the dead — being a parent myself, I now know this need, especially on Christmas morning.

Smells, for me, have always brought about feelings. And Christmas morning was definitely one of those good smells that brought about even better feelings.

As a child, I always loved Christmas.

It was my favorite time of year. Not just because I got presents, but because my parents took extra steps to make it memorable with unique traditions, delicious and unhealthy holiday foods, and special activities that brought us together. I wasn’t blessed with a good memory, but the little I do remember from being young center around the holiday season.

Now, having kids of my own, I truly understand the thought and sometimes stress that comes into planning a Christmas that your kids will always remember and think back fondly on. And I’m grateful to my parents for being a good example in implementing certain things that paved the way for the environment I wish to create for my own kids today.

christmas tree

Traditions are a vital part of that. They can be anything from oyster stew on Christmas Eve — not one of my favorites, sorry mom — to decorating the tree while listening to Christmas music and drinking eggnog. These traditions shape how a child views the holidays and associates them with either good or bad feelings.

For our family now, we usually try a new tradition almost every year. Some stick, some don’t.

A few years ago, we ended up going to the Broadmoor (a famous hotel here in Colorado Springs) to look at the beautiful Christmas lights they put on the huge fur trees surrounding the nearby lake. To get to the lake, you have to enter the hotel lobby, where they’ve decorated two GIANT gingerbread houses and multiple Christmas trees, which is always fun for the kids.

After a chilly walk around the lake, we get warmed up in the cozy hotel bar with a glass of red wine or spiked cider while the kids sip on hot chocolate. It has since become my favorite holiday tradition we do with my parents every year.

But along with traditions comes stress, especially for the parents. It’s hard work to make Christmas special for your kids. And even though I thoroughly believe it’s a child’s right to experience a special Christmas, I also feel bad for the parent’s tireless efforts in doing so.

christmas bucket list

Makin’ a List, So Moms Don’t Get Pissed 🎶

So what helps with stress around the holidays? Well, any mom will tell you—a LIST.

I used to hate lists. It stressed me out to make them. Lists were for planners, and planners are boring people. Planners don’t wake up and say, “What do I feel like doing today?” They say, “What do we have on the schedule for today? Even though I don’t feel good, we gotta stick to the schedule!”

Nope. I’ve always been a more “Fly by the seat of your pants” gal.

My grocery shopping experiences have always been, “Just get what sounds good, and you’ll figure it out.” I always do. Figure it out that is. But along with age comes maturity. And along with maturity comes lists.

Yes. Even I have succumbed to them. They are helpful for a time such as this. A holiday time. A time filled with underhanded, hurtful comments from your mother-in-law, Christmas cookies made with salt instead of sugar, unattended holiday parties due to sick kids, and tipped over Christmas trees thanks to Bob, our cat, who woke up from his catnap and decided to ruin Chrismas.

Christmas can go wrong REAL fast. So in an effort to make things a little less stressful and a little more enjoyable, women (I believe) invented a little thing called a LIST.

Lists are not just for boring people or Santa Claus, I have realized. So what could be better than the ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS BUCKET LIST?

This list has all of the things you wish to do with your family this Christmas. Forget gifts. That’s for another list. This list is DEDICATED to making sure you accomplish those special traditions. Because we all know that December 20th will swoop in faster than a baby comin’ out of the oven and make you realize you’ve done NOTHING, tradition-wise, and all the plans you sorted out in your head got pushed to the back burner along with buying your in-laws Christmas gifts.

Don’t do that this year. Create a Christmas Tradition Bucket List!

In fact, I believe in this list SO much that I’ve made one for you and it’s a printable! Just print it out and stick it to your fridge. When the first day in December rolls around, you can look at your list and say to your family, “What bucket list tradition should we check off today?!”

Within the printable are the ideas below. What makes the printable on your fridge so much fun is that your kids can see it, too. They will love to get in on the fun and decide what tradition to accomplish. I guarantee it will make your family’s December one to remember.

A December to Remember – A Family’s Christmas Tradition Bucket List With FREE Printable

  • Make Christmas cookies for your friends and neighbors
  • Drive around and look at Christmas lights
  • Volunteer at the soup kitchen with the whole family
  • Sponsor a child or do operation Christmas child
  • Have a Christmas music dance party
  • Buy ugly sweaters at the thrift store and take your family Christmas photos
  • Make homemade ornaments
  • Go ice skating or go on a winter hike
  • Decorate the tree while drinking eggnog and listening to Christmas music
  • Have a Christmas movie marathon (I recommend “it’s a wonderful life” as one of them)
  • Decorate cookies and/or a gingerbread house
  • Go to the woods to chop down a Christmas tree. Bring a picnic!
  • Go on a sleigh ride or make a snowman together
  • Read a different Christmas story every night before bed
  • Do an advent calendar with encouraging notes about your kids (You are…because…)
  • Make Christmas cards and notes for the elderly in nursing homes
  • Draw names for someone in your family you make a Christmas gift for
  • Go out and get holiday drinks at the bar with your spouse
  • Make Christmas eve dinner together

Get the Ultimate Christmas Tradition Bucket List Printable for FREE!

Author

Hillary Gruener is a wife, mother, writer, and musician. If she's not at her desk writing content on family life, she's adventuring the world with her husband and two boys.

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