holiday bucket list.

If I had my shit together you’d probably have had this a month ago.

But as I’ve stated over and over again, time management is the thing I excel the least at. So, now you get to see how we navigated the holidays this year through Covid, and possibly get a few ideas for your holidays next year.

1. See a Christmas Light Display: This year I really wanted to see an extravagant Christmas light display and Koziar’s Christmas Village was at the top of our list. Starting in the 1940’s, William Koziar began to decorate his home and surrounding areas for his wife and children. Locals began to refer to his home as the “Christmas House” and by popular demand, were granted access to his property for a closer look. Today the village has grown to become one of Pennsylvania’s top ten travel destinations and while I’m super glad that we were able to experience the village, it’s probably a one-time visit for us. The village was insanely crowded, especially given the circumstances – and it was quite a trek for us to go to. Next year, if Knoebles is still hosting their “Joy Through the Grove”, we may try to see that – especially because it had such rave reviews!

2. Go on a Sleigh Ride: This seems like such a Christmas thing to do – especially with holiday movie scenes like in the Santa Claus 2 when Scott Calvin takes Principle Newman on a horse-driven sleigh ride and uses the majority of the last of his magic making it snow. Or in the last scenes of one of my favorite Hallmark movies, “With Love, Christmas”, where the male leading character gifts a sleigh ride to the female leading character in a Secret Santa exchange at their office. So when a local fire department posted that they were having a sleigh-riding night, I was completely on board! Unfortunately, due to Covid, the whole extravaganza was cancelled, so it’s definitely something that I have on my bucket list for next year.

One thing that we were able to do was attend another drive-in. When the sleigh ride was cancelled, the local fire department hosted a viewing of The Santa Claus. So, Audrey and I ordered a pizza and drove to the fire station to watch one of our favorite holiday movies. I’m really starting to enjoy this whole drive-in thing, and I hope to make it a regular activity during the summer months!

3. Go on a Christmas Train: This is something that has been on my list for years. Fortunately, Audrey and I finally moved close enough to a train station that we were able to catch one of the Christmas rides. Strasburg Rail Road has a variety of Christmas trains to experience, from “The Night Before Christmas Train” where passengers get to dress up in their pajamas for a 45 minute train ride while a reader dressed in a nightshirt and cap reads “The Night Before Christmas” and they all enjoy milk and cookies to a “Christmas Tree Train” where the passengers get to choose a pre-cut Fraser Fir tree and have it delivered back to the station so they can take it home and decorate it. We hopped on “Santa’s Trolley”, so that we could enjoy Santa, cookies and milk, and a scenic train ride, but I’m so excited to catch another one next year.

4. Go to a Christmas Tree Lighting: I believe my affinity for Hallmark movies brought on this next activity. It seems like every holiday movie that has some sort of Christmas extravaganza (which is almost every single movie) is kicked off with a tree lighting. My town hosted theirs towards the end of November, but unfortunately this year we were unable to attend. While I wanted to enjoy the holiday festivities, I still wanted to remain safe during current times and was uncertain how the crowds would be or if they would abide by state regulations to stop the spread of Covid-19. So, we’re hoping to enjoy this next year!

5. Eat Seasonal Treats: This seems quite obvious, especially given my love for all things gingerbread, peppermint, and eggnog. I started off early by pre-ordering these holiday nut mixes during their Christmas in July special – they delivered them right before Thanksgiving – and then proceeded to drink a massive amount of peppermint mochas topped with these marshmallow mug toppers. Not only that, but I decided that I wanted to create Christmas cookie boxes this year to give as gifts to our new neighbors. I wanted to go on an edible journey – to satiate my desire to travel – so they were filled with cookies you’d find all around the world. Needless to say, I think we nailed this task on our bucket list.

6. Take Holiday Photos: I try to get our family photos done each year around the holidays, so it was definitely something I wanted to do again this year. I remember seeing a local photographer do a holiday session with a baby alpaca last year and I totally wanted to do that this year especially because it sounded so unique. Luckily for us, the farm that she photographs at just had another baby alpaca, so I booked right away! But unlucky for us, my fluffy little nugget was scaring the sweet little baby and it started bucking. So, to ensure our safety, we were able to have one photo with all three of us and the alpaca, but the rest of the photos that included the alpaca were just of Audrey as I stood off to the side with Prince.

7. Attend a Dinner Theater: I’ve always wanted to participate in one of those murder mystery dinners, where during the course of the dinner, you’re given clues on who killed the victim. It sounds like such a fun, interactive evening. However, I could settle for a dinner with something a little less interactive as well. So, when I saw that Mount Hope Estates & Winery was hosting a dinner theater where they would perform A Christmas Carol, I quickly added it to my holiday bucket list! However, due to Pennsylvania orders that were presented on December 11 restricting patrons dining in, the location had to cancel all remaining performances. So, while we didn’t get to attend one of the performances this year, it’s definitely on our list for next year!

8. Watch the Nutcracker: Recently, I have become quite interested in the performing arts. I mean, I’ve always been a fan of musicals and plays, but this year Audrey and I have been enjoying dance as well. Dancing has always intrigued me – it’s just something I lack all skill in. For Christmas this year though, I bought Audrey the “Nutcracker” book which is based on George Balanchine’s version, and she absolutely loved it. So, I wanted to show her the actual ballet, rather than just reading about it. I would have loved to have taken her to see a live performance of the Nutcracker, but obviously that wasn’t going to be in the cards this year. However, nearly every ballet company was providing a virtual performance – so we rented one on Marquee TV and enjoyed it with a lovely nutcracker inspired cheeseboard.

9. Eat Breakfast with Santa: This is something that has been on our list year-after-year, and I wasn’t quite sure how locations would host such an event this year. And the way the did it? By not hosting it at all. So, while we skipped it this year, eating breakfast with Santa will definitely be on our bucket list for next holiday season.

10. Drink Holiday-Inspired Cocktails: My holiday-inspired drink to kick of the season wasn’t actually a cocktail, but a stout. See, I had heard that Guinness was coming out with a gingerbread stout, so I went on a search for it, when one of the local grocer’s recommended Hardywood’s Gingerbread Stout. And while I didn’t get the chance to find the Guinness variety, this one was super good and highly recommended! Then we enjoyed some holiday cosmos mixed with Pinnacle’s spiced cranberry vodka, Pennsylvania Dutch Eggnog, some White Christmas cocktails, and copious amounts of gingerbread White Russians (are you noticing my obsession with gingerbread yet?). Unfortunately, I didn’t make my yearly batch of coquito, but there’s always next year!

As you can see, a few of the activities that we had hoped to do this holiday season were either altered or cancelled altogether due to Covid-19, but we still had a very enjoyable season! I’m hoping to use the bucket list we used this year to go off of, and possibly grow, for next year. Hello, Christmas markets. And travel.


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