Last year, in one of my Facebook groups a mom cried out for help because according to her, she had “dropped the ball for Halloween” and that her family was losing the magic of the holiday seasons. When I commented on the post, I let her know that I usually create a bucket list of ten things for each holiday and/or season to keep things special (even during Covid when so much was closed down) and this technique seemed to be appreciated by quite a few! So – I’ve made it a habit to share our own bucket list in hopes that I can help you plan yours. They don’t always have to be new activities – sometimes we enjoy doing the same thing year after year – but just getting out there and doing stuff is well worth it.
Watch the Nutcracker
A couple of years ago when we moved to Pennsylvania, after many years of thinking about it, I finally signed Audrey up for dance (namely ballet). I have always been interested in dance and often find myself falling down a rabbit hole of Instagram reels watching people dance (it’s honestly the main reason I refuse to download TikTok), and I wanted Audrey to share that same love. Unfortunately, ballet was never particularly the dance I was interested in watching because for some reason I thought it was on the more boring side? That is, until I watched Emma and Styles on World of Dance back in 2020. YouTube them. You’ll understand. Seriously chill inducing. Anyway, after that I sort of fell down a rabbit hole of just ballet. The Snow Queen. Swan Lake. The Nutcracker. However, because this was in the midst of Covid, we were unable to actually go see a live performance. Well, that’s changing this year! As we will be watching the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet perform The Nutcracker over at the Hershey Theatre and to say we are excited is an understatement.
Create a Holiday Themed Cheeseboard
I remember growing up and walking around the local mall around the holidays and obsessing over the Hickory Farm kiosk that popped up for the season. Or receiving the Hickory Farm’s catalog in the mail and scrutinizing over every single gift box, ensuring it had the best selection of summer sausages, multiple cheese options, a flavored mustard, a variety of jams, candies, popcorn, etc… Bigger was most definitely better – even if those sets cost well over a couple hundred dollars. In my mind, it was totally worth it even if my parents never actually bought one. I mean, it’s probably what started my passion for cheeseboard creations. Hickory dang Farm. But now I walk right past those pre-packaged charcuterie gift sets and spend my time viewing the cheese selection at Aldi. And creating a cheeseboard around Christmas has never been easier since Audrey’s birthday dinner request is always that: a cheeseboard. This year we’re going a little less Christmas themed and a taking a trip to Hogwarts for my Harry Potter obsessed little one’s birthday.
Breakfast with Santa
This is one of those activities that we do year after year. Especially since we found the Country Barn Market. This 10-acre farm not only has a farm to fork breakfast, but once you’re finished eating and grab your photo, you can head outside to enjoy more activities: an elf scavenger hunt, Christmas crafts, train rides, and Christmas tree picking.
Head to a Christmas Market
If you caught my most recent blog post, I talked about visiting the Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, although it was rated as one of the 20 best Christmas Markets in the United States by TravelMag, it’s not one of my favorites. I, on the other hand, may have been slightly spoiled growing up in Mifflinburg where for the past 33 years we’ve had our own outdoor Christmas market. So, this year, we’re heading back to my hometown to enjoy one of my absolute favorite Christmas activities: Christkindl!
Have Christmas Photos Taken
Being a single mom it’s not often that I get photos with all of us in them. Sure, maybe I’ll snap a selfie here and there and occasionally we may have a passerby ask us if we’d like to have a photo with all of us in the shot, but more often than not – the photos are just of Audrey and Prince. So, I make sure to schedule a Christmas photo session with my favorite photographer to ensure I get a family photo at least once a year!
Christmas Train Ride
I blame the Polar Express for this one. And my desire to find the most perfect holiday train ride. You know – one where I’m traveling through the snow-capped mountains coming across magical Christmas towns fully lit up in a warm glow from all the sparkling lights. Sipping hot chocolate in the warm cozy cabin while the best-looking Santa makes his rounds to all the kids asking what they’d like for Christmas. Unfortunately, what we have experienced thus far hasn’t been the train ride of my dreams, so we will continue our search until I find the most perfect one!
Go to a Light Show
Prior to moving back to Pennsylvania, I had actually never been to a light show. I was pretty content with just walking around the neighborhood looking at all the Christmas decor put up. And don’t get me wrong – I’m still 100% fine with doing that, but now I also enjoy watching more than 5 million lights twinkle and move along to the tunes of famous Christmas carols. So far, we’ve seen Koziar’s Christmas Village and Hershey Park’s Christmas Candylane. Maybe this year we’ll head over to Knoebel’s Joy Through the Grove or York’s Christmas Magic.
Eat all the Holiday-Inspired Food
If you don’t follow my Instagram, chances are you aren’t aware that each month we learn all about a certain country: what their climate is, animals that live there, famous landmarks, national dishes, etc. and then the last weekend of the month, we cook up a meal consisting of just that country’s cuisine. We’re on pause for the holidays, so I figured what better way to spend that pause than to find out what other countries eat on Christmas and try my hand at making those dishes myself. Up first: tamales, as this has been on my list of dishes to make for years!
Ride on a One-Horse Open Sleigh
This may make an appearance on my bucket list each year (thank you, The Santa Claus) and we still have not checked it off of our list. Well hopefully we will change that! A local fire department hosts a Winter’s Night event with horse drawn sleighs, photos with Santa and food trucks.
Visit the Christmas Story House
As a family who moves a lot, I’ve realized that we seriously need to minimize the amount of “stuff” we have and with Audrey having a birthday on Christmas day, she can seriously get overloaded with the gifts. So, we’ve decided that for our birthdays we are going to travel instead of open presents! I gave her three options: a cruise, Pigeon Forge Tennessee, or Cleveland Ohio to go see the Christmas Story house. She chose the third option – which I’m completely fine with. We’re going to spend our time doing a bunch of winter activities that I hope to share when we get back – so stay tuned!
What do you have planned for the Christmas season??