holiday bucket list 2021.

Whew.

This has been a whirlwind of a holiday season! Last year was a little hit-or-miss with our holiday list due to COVID, but this year we are more than making up for it!

1. Get Holiday Photos Taken: We try to get family photos taken each year around the holidays, so it’s something you’ll see on my list year after year. I decided to use the same local photographer that I used last year because one – I love the special family moments she captures in her photography and two – she does unique set ups each year so we aren’t doing the same thing each time.

2. Go to a Christmas Market: I am SO glad to be able to add this one to the list. I grew up in a small town in central Pennsylvania, and for as long as I can remember, we would head out the second weekend of December to go to the town’s Christkindl Market. Last year was the first time in over three decades that they had to cancel the market, so it was definitely a must-do for this year. Unfortunately, I think the vendors were ill-prepared, and we drove an hour to find out (at 6 pm) that most vendors were sold out of their items. Fortunately, we’re heading to Christmas City on the 18th, so hopefully we’ll have better luck at that market!

{photo from Magic and Wonder show website}

3. See a Holiday-themed Magic Show: If you follow along with our bucket lists, you’ll remember that this summer we went to the Turkey Hill Experience. Well, we spent a little extra to do the hands-on taste lab where you create your own Turkey Hill ice cream flavor (totally worth it, by the way) and ended up receiving a golden ticket (free admission) for one child to attend the Magic and Wonder holiday show. I thought this was a great way to get us out there and enjoying the holiday season, so as soon as tickets were available for myself, I booked us a table. And we absolutely loved it! I have video of some of their tricks and Audrey just laughing away beside me. I would totally recommend it for a family outing.

4. Attend a Dinner Theatre: I was super bummed about not being able to do this last year because of a Pennsylvania order that restricted dine in patrons that went into effect right before the holidays, making this another one of those “at the top of my list” activities for this year. So, when I was booking the rest of my holiday events, I checked to see if there were any Christmas themed shows worth attending and came across the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre. I was so excited to see that the show this year is Miracle on 34th Street, so I quickly reserved us seats for the evening of the 23rd before they could sell out!

5. Bake Christmas Cookie Boxes for Family & Friends: Last year we put together cookie boxes filled with some of my favorite cookies and handed them out to our neighbors (and gave some to our immediate family). I wanted to do that again this year, but since we’ve been trying to discover new dishes from all over the world, I decided to do “Around the World” cookie boxes – filled with twelve different Christmas cookies from all over the globe. We had Swedish pepparkakor, German vanillekipferl, and Hungarian kiffles to just name a few. I definitely think these are going to be a hit this year!

6. Visit a Small Town: As I mentioned in our Autumn bucket list this year, we are going to try to explore the local area a bit better – heading to a small town each month! I want to take these trips to be able to experience something historical, go on a tour of some sort, and I want us to be able to try all the foods. This month we’re heading to Christmas City: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania! I want to check out the second oldest bookstore in the world: The Moravian Book Shop, take a Christmas City tour, and visit some of the Christmas markets for delicious food! Hopefully if I get my time management skills together, I can talk all about our smalltown travels. I still have so many other travel destinations I haven’t gotten around to sharing, though… (Mexico, Rhode Island, and Lititz, PA…)!

7. Attend a Christmas Tree Lighting: I’m not quite sure what I expected with this. Maybe a larger tree? Maybe more singing? Who knows? Maybe I set my heights too high with all my Hallmark movie watching, but I was hoping for some more Christmas carols, some hot beverages (although I believe I did see some people with hot cocoa), and a dang spectacular view. I guess I just wanted more. What I got was this (image above). It’s definitely no Rockefeller Center tree, that’s for sure. But, eh, I also don’t live in New York City. Or anything close to resembling its grandeur. Maybe next year?

8. Go See a Christmas Light Show: Last year we visited Koziar’s village, and while it was enjoyable, I’m always interested in going someplace new. So, while we’re spending the day over in Bethlehem, we may head over the Lehigh Valley Zoo for their Winter Light Spectacular – they have over 1.2 million lights! Or we may head down to York for their Festival of Lights. Or even head over to Hershey’s Sweet Lights. There’s just so many to choose from, I can’t imagine going to the same place again and again.

9. Eat Breakfast with Santa: This was another one of those missed activities last year – although prior to Covid, it was something we did year-after-year. I’m so happy we were able to enjoy the activity this year and I absolutely love the fact that I stumbled on Country Barn for this event. Especially because it wasn’t just breakfast with Santa. I mean, we did do that – with a breakfast made from the food they grow right on the farm, but afterwards Audrey was able to have her photo taken with Santa (which was included with each adult ticket) and then we could head outside to their Barnyard Kingdom to slide down giant slides, create Christmas crafts, and go on an elf scavenger hunt!

10. Do a Random Act of Kindness: I tell Audrey over and over again how blessed we are to have what we have and do what we do. And while this is something I would want her to think about all year, I feel like around the holidays is when we think about this a bit more. Whether it’s donating non-perishables to a local food bank, paying for the person behind us in a drive-thru, leaving a gift out for the delivery truck drivers, etc. I want to show her that it’s important to give back.

Welp, that about wraps up the activities that we have planned for this holiday season. I’m definitely loving creating these bucket lists and then marking off each item each season to get us out and about. I hope these also help you each season as you plan fun-filled activities that help you get out and explore!

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