A Holiday Bucket List

Once school starts my fall/winter season pretty much goes like this . . .


Then, I get to January and realize that not only am I exhausted but that I pretty much crabbed/yelled/sighed my way through the holiday . . . all in an attempt to have a holiday season that could be featured on the cover of _______________ (insert any home and garden magazine title here).

(Side note: Anyone else ever greet their husband/partner at the front door so mad you can hardly see straight because he put gifts with green curling ribbon under the Christmas tree when you clearly were only using red wrapping paper and natural colored raffia this year per Martha Stewart’s last Christmas magazine?  No?  Yeah, me neither.

Or how about the screaming fight you had last year about putting the Thanksgiving turkey in a roaster in the garage, instead of the oven in the house?  You know, the fight so epic that every once in a while your kids will still say to each other  “Remember that time Mom yelled at Dad about putting the chicken in the garage?”—nearly 10 months after the fact?  Just me?  Really?)

Then, on top of all of that, these cute little holiday bucket lists start popping up all over the internet, and you being the glutton for punishment that you are, go ahead and pin them to your Pinterest board and feel guilty every time you don’t do something on said list.

Well, guess what?  I’m proposing a new type of holiday bucket list this year . . . I hope you enjoy!

Holiday Bucket List

1.       Decline the invitation to 1 holiday party—even though you’re free that night.

2.       On a night you have enough time to make dinner at home, double the recipe & put the second helping in the freezer.  Save it for a night when you have 2 holiday open houses and a choir concert to get to . . .

3.       Buy the powdered hot cocoa mix at the store—let your kids mix the hot cocoa & your husband/partner/oldest child clean up the mess while you watch your favorite show/take a bath/go to the bathroom by yourself.

4.       Don’t feel guilty about the fact that your holiday cards may arrive after the holidays are over (if you send holiday cards)—surprise mail is the best kind of mail anyway.

5.       Let your kids help you wrap presents (and don’t rewrap them after they go to bed).

6.       Use store-bought treats for one of the many holiday parties you’ll be going to this year.

7.       If you choose to make holiday treats with your kids, limit yourself to 1 or 2 quick and easy treats—a few of my favorites are these and these.

8.       Give the Elf on the Shelf guy a break one night after he arrives at your house.

9.       Go to Whitey’s and eat their peppermint Oreo ice cream while it’s in season (sorry this one isn’t really about giving yourself a break this season .  .  . the ice cream is just really good!) and eat said ice cream while checking off your Target shopping list.

10.   And speaking of Target . . . stay out of the holiday aisle—trust me, you do not need the paper Christmas straws this year (even though they are really cute!)

11. In the midst of running here, there, and everywhere take a deep breath and try to be thankful for the chaos that is your life . . . even if that means looking back into the rearview mirror of the car only to see your children fighting with each other.

12. Oh, and don’t kill anyone over mismatched wrapping paper and cooking a turkey in the garage–its kind of embarrassing and really not worth it (or so I’ve heard)!

Most importantly, try to relax and enjoy this upcoming whirlwind of a season…and if you’re feeling adventurous, try out this cute Holiday Bucket List!

Kate lives in Iowa City with her husband (Matt) and three kids, ages 7, 5, and 2. She works at the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Iowa. She earned her PhD in Curriculum and Supervision in 2012. Prior to working at the University, she taught high school mathematics at many public schools in Iowa. Kate has also coached junior high and high school cheerleading squads for 10 years. Kate has a personal blog http://katedegner.wordpress.com . . . stop by and relive your junior high and high school mathematics classes! (without the anxiety or the homework :) )


  1. This is just what i needed to read!!! when i saw the title of the post in my inbox, i almost deleted it. i thought–i can’t read another bucket list of things i need to do.

    thank you so much for writing!!!

  2. That stupid Elf. Last year ours would stay in the same place for days and days and days. I gave myself a pass because I think the accompanying book is creepy and riddled with themes of guilt and shame, lol.


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