This Holiday Bucket List Is the Best Way to Treat Yourself Right Now

published Dec 4, 2023
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist Jesse Szewczyk

There’s a lot to love about the holidays: sweater weather, amazing food, friends and family. But the end of the year is also notoriously hectic, between wrapping up projects at work, coordinating who’s going where for the holidays, and trying to get everyone’s gifts on time. 

Honestly, it’s time to put the “I” back in “holiday.” 

This year, instead of solely focusing on your holiday to-do list, treat yourself by chipping away at this holiday bucket list. It’s filled with solo seasonal activities you can do during festive nights in spent enjoying your own company. 

1. Create a photo album or scrapbook.

Do you have meaningful photos you’ve been meaning to organize? Put together an album or scrapbook over the course of a few evenings. Brooklyn-based mental health counselor Anya Dangora says engaging in a creative project that gives you a break from screen time can be a great way to spend your evening. 

2. Color in a holiday-themed workbook.

Tap into your artistic side. Coloring is a meditative activity that’s known to reduce stress and promote relaxation, according to the Mayo Clinic, so order a seasonal adult coloring book and start shading in.

3. Build a mini-snowman.

Even on a night in, it’s nice to quickly pop out for some crisp air. If there’s snow where you live, breathe in that freshness while rolling and stacking a mini snow buddy. 

Credit: Anna Blazhuk/Getty Images

4. Stir up DIY hot cocoa. 

It doesn’t get much better than settling in with a warm cup of cocoa. Get fancy and make yourself that hot chocolate — or even go for hot chocolate bombs or spiked hot cocoa. Don’t forget the whipped cream!  

5. Make a phone date with a friend or family member.

Sometimes, you can’t see everyone you want during the holidays. Get all the benefits of catching up with your favorite person without needing to dress up for a party — win-win! 

6. Build a themed gingerbread house. 

Making a gingerbread house is an essential part of the holidays. Skip the fuss of baking cookie pieces yourself and build this hassle-free, iconic Barbie dreamhouse. If you’re feeling extra inspired, spring for the Barbie camper van, too!

Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez Hart; Nails: Mamie Onishi; Rug: Courtesy of Aelfie

7. Write in a gratitude journal.

Expressing gratitude can provide mental and physical benefits, according to Mayo Clinic. In fact, feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood, and even immunity, per the health system. Here’s a prompt to get you started: What is one quality about yourself that you appreciate the most?

8. Crochet a DIY blanket.

Making your own chunky knit blanket is an extremely rewarding way to spend evenings with yourself. What’s great about this beginner-friendly tutorial is that you can make it without any tools, and it requires no knitting experience. Plus, you can start and stop it whenever you wish — this is a project you can return to throughout the holiday season. 

9. Spread some seasonal scents.

Research has long shown the potential benefits of essential oils, like improved sleep. Dangora says using scents to create calm could improve your mood, as well. So add your favorite essential oils to your diffuser, or light your favorite holiday-scented candle for some additional merry-making.

Credit: PeopleImages/Getty Images/iStockphoto

10. Go all-in on holiday movie night. 

Who doesn’t appreciate a holiday movie? Now think bigger. Give yourself the gift of a holiday movie marathon, or marathon your favorite TV show’s holiday episodes. 

11. Try a new (and simple) cookie recipe.

Holiday baking can often feel more like work than celebratory, but lean into the pleasure element with this three-ingredient cookie. Bonus: Your house will smell like freshly baked cookies.

Credit: Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

12. Soak in a snow-scented bath.

Keep yourself warm on a chilly night with a snow-scented bath bomb, like this “Snowdrift” option from Lush. A long soak with scents like eucalyptus, peppermint, and lemongrass should leave you relaxed (and Lush bath bombs are known for being particularly aesthetically pleasing as well). 

13. Give yourself a holiday spa night.

After you’ve soaked and scrubbed, brighten up your fingertips with some festive nail polish or stick-on nails. Don’t forget a peppermint face mask and foot scrub.  

14. Order yourself a lavish treat you normally wouldn’t.  

Put in that takeout order from that great bakery nearby you’ve been meaning to try, or request that boba tea order you normally can’t justify for delivery. 

Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez Hart; Nails: Mamie Onishi; Blanket: Courtesy of Happy Habitat

15. Read or listen to a book from your TBR pile.

Make a dent in that pile of books on your nightstand that you’ve been meaning to read. Feeling decision fatigue when you try to select a book? Just close your eyes and point to this no-bad-choice list of the best books of 2023, according to Barnes & Noble. 

16. Design a holiday bouquet with store-bought blooms.  

Creativity for the win (again!). Curate your own festive centerpiece using grocery store flowers for a cheer boost that lasts for days. 

17. Listen to your favorite holiday album.

Take the time if you’ve got it to queue up your go-to seasonal tracks and listen to them all from start to finish. Cuddle up under a weighted blanket, close your eyes, and listen to your favorite seasonal playlist. If you don’t know what to play, Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas is a crowd-pleaser. 

18. Dig into an advent calendar.

Count down to the holidays by cracking open an advent calendar full of things you love, or even a self-care advent calendar. Enjoy a little luxury each night all season long. Or, open a few in one night — who’s gonna know? 

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy as part of Holiday Night Off, presented by DoorDash. See it there: This Holiday Bucket List Is Filled with Little Ways to Treat Yourself