The Ultimate Winter Bucket List for You and Your Little Ones
Please note this article was written prior to COVID-19. Life’s big and little moments deserve to be celebrated even during a pandemic, but please keep the CDC’s safety guidlelines in mind as you plan your celebrations.
Drawing up a summer bucket list for the family is easy-peasy. It’s warm out, the park and playground are free activities and kids want to frolic and get their wiggles out. Creating a winter bucket list, however, is much trickier. The chilly temps, icy conditions and all those drippy noses can make curating fun and memorable winter activities for kids much harder. Lucky for you, we’ve gone ahead and pulled together our 50 favorite must-dos of the season to add your family’s winter bucket list.
1. Build a Snowman
Or woman. Or dog. Or car. Better yet, write down a bunch of silly choices and have everyone in the family blindly choose which snow-thing they’re tasked with making.
2. Start a Family Read-Aloud
Grab a chapter book (maybe one you loved as a kid yourself) that the whole family would enjoy and start a new habit.
3. Go Cuckoo for Cocoa
Punctuate any and all winter activities for kids with this A+ it’s-cold-outside beverage. Extra points if you get whipped cream, marshmallows and/or peppermint sticks to toss in too.
4. “Elf” Someone
Secretly leave a basket of treats at a neighbor’s door, ring the doorbell and run. Don’t forget to leave a note that encourages the family to keep the fun going.
6. Create a Holiday Feast for the Animals
If you live outside the city, decorate a tree in your yard or the woods with edible ornaments, like peanut butter-covered pinecones and cranberry garlands.
7. Make a Gingerbread House
And let the kids eat it all up! Pro tip: Gingerbread House kits are super-cheap after Christmas. Scoop them up and turn them into sweet winter cottages all season long.
8. Have a Disney Marathon
It’s Walt Disney’s birthday on December 5th. Why not celebrate with a Disney movie marathon? (Mickey ears for all is a must in our book!)
9. Make Snow Angels
Meaning you too, Mom. Everyone on the ground!
10. Donate, Donate, Donate
Gather clothes and gently used toys to give to charity, non-perishables to food pantries and used blankets and towels to animal shelters.
11. Make Homemade Gifts
Cookies, candies, breads, popsicle stick picture frames—it doesn’t matter what it is, it only matters that your kiddo used their hands to create it.
12. Have a Winter Picnic
Like, outside. You’ve got a Thermos and a beach blanket. Use them.
13. Host a Cookie Exchange Party
Encourage all the kiddos to bring their own no-bake cookie options to trade.
14. Visit the Holiday Lights
If you can, drive around gawking while the kids are in their jammies and munching on some holiday popcorn.
15. Go Sledding
Don’t just take pictures—get on the actual sled. The kids will love it.
16. Tackle a Giant Puzzle
Commit to taking over the dining room table for a several days and ask for everyone’s help. (Kids are great at finding edge pieces.)
17. Make Ornaments
No matter if it’s salt dough ornament or made from the kits you get at the craft store, it’s a sweet tradition to add to your annual winter bucket list.
18. Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Take a photo of an icicle! Collect three pine cones! Find animal tracks! You get the idea.
19. Celebrate the Winter Solstice
The shortest day / longest night falls on December 21st. Celebrate by making luminaries and lanterns.
20. Go Snow Bowling
Fill some water balloons with colored water and freeze them, then peel off the balloons and use these ice balls for a round of outdoor bowling. (Use empty cans and plastic bottles for the pins.)
21. Have a Beach Party
A winter activity for kids that’s sure to melt the winter blues! Pull those sand shovels and buckets out of storage and make snow castles in the yard.
22. Stay in Your PJs All Day
A must on any winter bucket list. Resist the urge to put on real pants. Instead, enjoy the coziness of the season—perhaps in matching family PJs.
23. Write Thank You Notes
Start teaching kids about gratitude early on by having them write (or dictate) thank you notes to friends and loved ones for all those holiday gifts.
24. Take a Train Ride
All aboard Amtrak! You’re technically indoors and the kids get to get their choo-choo on. Win, win!
25. Start a Crafts Bin
Take the scissors to the holiday card pile, gather gift ribbons and wrapping paper and toss it all in a box to be used for kid crafts throughout the year.
26. Paint the Yard
When your backyard piles up with snow, fill spray bottles with water and food coloring and channel your inner-Picasso.
27. Make S’Mores
Roast them over a fire pit in the yard, in your fireplace, over the gas flame of your stove or in the microwave—it tastes delicious any way!
28. Host Family Game Night
Invite family friends over and make kid-friendly board games the shared activity of choice. A classic addition to your family winter bucket list.
29. Go on a Sleigh Ride
See if there are any farms, resorts or festivals in your area that offer them.
30. Check out a Polar Plunge
You don’t have to run into the icy cold water yourselves (brr), but it’s pretty fun to watch.
31. Make a New Year’s Wish List
Ask everyone in the family what they wish for the group in the coming year, write it all down and hang it up for a feel-good reminder. Talk about #goals.
32. Take a Festive Family Picture
Mark your calendar to do it the same time next year, and the year after that, and so on. As a perennial winter bucket list item, it’s a fun way to see your little ones grow over the years.
33. Try a Winter Sport
Ice skating, snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, hockey—pick one (or several) and give it a go. Team family!
34. Make Candy Cane Dust
Crush up all those leftover candy canes, toss them in some Tupperware and use them to add flair to frosting, ice cream, cake batter or really anything.
35. Create Paper Snowflakes
Fun winter activities for kids don’t always have to happen outside. Dust the snowflakes with glitter afterward for some seasonal magic.
36. Go Swimming
Find a nearby indoor pool or water park and spend a day cannonballing to escape the winter cold.
37. Blow Bubbles and Watch Them Freeze
Instead of using your summer bubbles, mix 3 cups water, 1 cup dish soap and a 1/2 cup light corn syrup—and blow, baby, blow. Make sure it’s below freezing outside.
38. Spread Smiles
Go for a walk and use your fingers to draw smiley faces on all the snow-covered car windshields you see.
39. Have a Pooh Party
Need some more winter activities for kids? Take a glance at the calendar: It’s Winnie the Pooh Day on January 18th. Why not have a tea (with honey!) party in his honor?
40. Make Snow Cream
With a wooden spoon, fold a 10-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk and a teaspoon of vanilla into about 10 cups of freshly fallen snow (key word: fresh), and enjoy!
41. Host a Winter Olympics
Gather the neighbors, make some medals out of cardboard and play all your favorite snow sports.
42. Go Camping in the Living Room
Break out the sleeping bags, build a huge fort and take turns telling “campfire” stories. Extra credit if you’ve got the fireplace roaring.
43. Have a Snowball Fight
A real one that involves hiding behind snow shelters and sneaking up on kids. Make sure the “Bellies, Bums and Backs Only” rule is in play from the get-go.
44. Make an Indoor Sandbox
Find a long, shallow plastic bin (with a lid), fill it with play sand and let the kids go to town. Just remember to have the vacuum at the ready.
45. Take a Snowy Hike
You can’t leave an outdoor adventure off your winter bucket list! Bundle the kids in snowsuits, and don’t forget the Thermos of hot chocolate.
46. Play Tic-Tac-Toe in the Snow
Grab some sticks, head to the park or backyard and play a big ol’ game of tic-tac-toe in the snow.
47. Go Snow Tubing
It’s not the same as sledding—it’s better. You can do it at most ski mountains.
48. Have Super Bowl Dinner
Even kids love bar food. While your family watches the big game, enjoy a dinner feast of wings, seven layer dip, pigs in a blanket and more. You can load up on veggies the next day.
49. Bring the Snow Inside
Too cold to play outdoors? Fill a plastic bin with snow, put it in the tub and let your kiddo play away. Winter activities for kids don’t get much easier than this.
50. DIY Your Valentine’s Day Cards
Because heartfelt messages feel extra-special when presented in a handmade card. Grab that crafts bin you prepared and let your little ones unleash their creativity.
Save some of our favorites with this winter checklist:
Published November 2018