50 Bucket List Ideas to Keep You Cozy This Holiday

With the holidays in full swing, we’ve entered major cozy mode. We’re all about making every day merry and bright—with cookie-baking afternoons, holiday movie marathons, and more all on our winter bucket list. While we live with the intention of making the most of every day, the holiday season is a special time of year meant to be savored. Of course, with the flurry of festivity, it’s easy to get swept up in all there is to do. That’s why a winter bucket list comes in handy: it can help guide your days, making sure you do all the things that are important to you.

Because let’s be real. As much as we try to be intentional about the days between November and December, the flurry of activity can send our internal compass spinning. If in years passed, you’ve woken up on New Year’s wondering where the last couple of months have gone, you’ve come to the right place. Ahead, discover 50 ideas to inspire your winter bucket list.

Featured image from our interview with Kate Arends by Suruchi Avasthi.

50 Cozy Ideas to Add to Your Winter Bucket List

Bucket lists function as a nice little roadmap to inspire presence and intention in all of our days. They help us step outside of our comfort zones every so often to experience the unfamiliarity of a life beyond our own rituals, rhythms, and routines. As you move through your winter bucket list, the goal is to experience growth—small, but significant change.

I was careful to design this winter bucket list so that it remains in tune with the season, honoring the coziness and comfort that’s ours to soak up before spring.

I invite you to join me in checking off the 50 winter bucket list ideas below. Each will help you make the most of the cozy season—and scare off any SAD vibes that come your way.

Creative Winter Bucket List Ideas

1. Send letters to loved ones. Whether it’s holiday cards or you just want to drop a loving note. Pick up some cute stationary, stock up on stamps, and send thoughtful notes to friends and family.

2. Tour a museum. I live in Chicago, and if you’ve been here before, you know it’s one of the best museum cities in the country. I have lots to check off on my list—and winter’s the best time to make it happen. I highly recommend following my lead. There’s little that inspires me more.

3. Create an affirmation jar. Gather the positive affirmations that resonate with you or get inspired to create your own! Write them down on paper, cut them out, and put them in a jar that you pull from each morning.

4. Learn to crack an egg with one hand. The easiest way to instantly become the coolest person at the party. It’s a skill worth bragging about.

5. Skip the small talk. At every gathering this winter, let these conversation starters inspire meaningful questions. They’ll help you get to the heart of who people are, what they care about, and how they connect best.

6. Map out your best 2023 yet. Vision boarding is a key part of making your dreams a reality. Let this vision board kit guide your journey.

7. Find your new favorite journal. The easiest way to make journaling a habit that sticks? Getting a journal you love. Browse these guided options.

8. Build up your self-confidence arsenal. Looking for ways to feel fearless in 2023? These strategies are instant confidence boosters.

9. Get addicted to Shelf Life. ELLE.com knows a compelling series when it sees one. Shelf Life dives deep into our favorite celebrities’ favorite reads. Aubrey Plaza, Misty Copeland, and Celeste Ng are just a few of my faves.

10. Buy a paint-by-numbers kit. Even if you claim not to have an artistic bone in your body, the result will almost always be gorgeous. Start with this kit—she’s a stunner.

11. Design your dream house. Curl up with Remodelista in Maine. No book captures the down-to-earth, rustic New England style better, and there’s no other activity that inspires our wanderlust more.

Delicious Winter Bucket List Ideas

12. Picnic indoors. I have the Barefoot Contessa herself to thank for this tip. She loves hosting what she calls an “indoor picnic” (for her fabulous, “dear” friends, of course). Make a charcuterie board, pour some wine, and add a soup to the mix. You’re welcome to eat at the dining table, but I love the casual, picnic-y vibes of gathering around the kitchen counter.

13. Bake your heart out. Not sure about you, but when the temps reach above 70, my kitchen is officially closed for the season. Make the most of the cold weekend days indoors with this definitive list of the best things to bake when you’re bored.

14. Celebrate winter comfort food. Because in just a few months’ time, you won’t be dreaming of warm and cozy meals. Make the most of winter eating with these healthy(ish) comfort food recipes.

15. Perfect your favorite cuppa. In the morning, the afternoon, and post-dinner—you can always catch me with a warm cup of tea. Relatable? I thought so. This is the Masala Chai recipe to make on repeat.

16. Share holiday cookies with neighbors. Our holiday cookie book is the best place to get inspired. Box them up with cute ribbon and share with everyone in your neighborhood.

Self-Care Winter Bucket List Ideas

17. Get a spa treatment. Massage, facial, cupping—whatever your body and mind currently crave. Book your appointment today, your future self will thank you.

18. Reorganize your fridge. Is there anything more satisfying? For Camille’s expert advice, see here.

19. Try one of the hottest nail trends. From Micro-French to Chocolate Brown—find your new go-to mani.

20. Join Open’s Mindfulness Challenge. It’s a supportive way to start the daily habit. Nourish your mind and connect deeper with your emotions—learn more here.

21. Try out a new perfume. There’s no better time to find a new scent. Consult our guide to the best clean fragrances.

22. Listen to the Normal Gossip podcast. If you miss office chats or just like to indulge in juicy stories about people you’ll never meet, you’re in for a treat.

23. Add more leafy greens to your diet. An easy way to boost your immune system and your mood this winter? Trying these nutritionist-approved tips for getting your greens.

24. Refresh your space. Don’t wait for spring cleaning to make your home a relaxing, inspiring haven. Looking for a place to start? There’s nowhere better than the bedroom.

25. Clean out your closet. Along the lines of refreshing your space, take some time to go through your clothes to prioritize the pieces you love most.

26. Get enough sleep. The holidays have a way of wearing us down. Make sure you’re getting 7-8 hours of quality, restorative sleep.

27. Say no. We know: it’s harder than it seems. Particularly during the holidays when there’s so much to do and so many ways to help. Be realistic about what you can do without stretching yourself too thin. And remember: it’s important to protect your peace.

Cozy Winter Bucket List Ideas

28. Watch a series from start to finish. Arguably not one of the most challenging ideas on this list. But I know that once spring comes, I’ll be spending more hours outside than in. There’s never a better time than the present to binge-watch a new fave.

29. Create a signature scent scape. Scent is perhaps the most overlooked sense, but it’s also one of the most transformative. Get expert tips on how to make your home smell amazing.

30. Cozy up by a fire. With a book, knitting, whatever—just not your phone. Don’t have a fireplace at home? Find a cute coffee shop or bar in your city that does.

31. Find a new throw you can’t stop snuggling up with. You know the one. It’s unbelievably soft, warm, and exactly what you want when you’re craving cozy and comfy vibes. This is the one I’m wrapped up in at all times.

32. Find your new favorite winter candle. It’s the best way to set the mood no matter what you’re up to. These are our favorites.

33. Have a pajama day. On a Saturday or Sunday this winter, make pancakes, watch movies, binge your favorite reads, and indulge in the joy that’s wearing your comfiest loungewear all day.

34. Go on a bookstore date. With your partner, a friend, or yourself! Browse the shelves and pick something outside of your typical genres. There’s nothing like the new year to expand your horizons.

35. Do a puzzle. It’s a great winter bucket list ideas that doesn’t involve any screens. Ordinary Habit makes the sweetest puzzles

36. Make a gingerbread house.

37. Host a family game night. It’s such a cozy way to spend time with your loved ones. Get our ideas for hosting a memorable game night.

38. Curate a holiday playlist. I love curling up on the couch with a cup of cocoa while listening to my holiday favorites. Get inspired with our go-to songs.

39. Do a random act of kindness. It’ll make you feel warm and cozy inside and does a world of good for whoever you share your kindness with. These are our favorite ideas for spreading some joy.

40. Wrap presents. Sure, it needs to be done. But if you give yourself enough time, it can be a fun process. Play some holiday music, make a few Christmas treats, light a candle, and settle in.

Active Winter Bucket List Ideas

41. Have a ski weekend. Is there anything more wintry than driving out to the mountains and hitting the slopes? Even if you’re not a skier, you’re still welcome to indulge in the après-ski vibes.

42. Explore a new neighborhood in your city. Every weekend, my partner and I make a point to get out of our neighborhood and see what the surrounding areas have to offer. You’ll happen upon new restaurants, shops, and perhaps even discover where you want to live next (I have!).

43. Try rock climbing. Adventure, indoors. Sign up for a beginner’s class at your local climbing gym. Once you start, it’s hard to stop. Bonus: It’s even more fun with friends!

44. Subscribe to a gardening podcast. If you can’t wait until spring, start cultivating your green thumb now. The American Horticulture Society offers a whole library of podcasts on different gardening topics with expert guests. Learn about the Slow Flower Movement, how to support natural wildlife, and the importance of teaching kids how to garden.

45. Look at Christmas lights. Pile the family in the car or bundle up for a walk. It’s such a lovely way to soak up the holiday magic.

46. Make snow angels. If you’re lucky enough to have snow where you live, embrace the childhood joy of jumping in the snow.

47. Go ice skating. It never gets old. In the same vein: sledding!

48. Try cross-country skiing. It’s an amazing workout and a great way to take in the snowy scenery.

49. Do a cold plunge. You know it’s good for you—and in the winter, you don’t have to have one in your backyard to make it happen. Gather a group and go for a dip in a local lake. Trust us, it’s fun.

50. Visit a Christmas tree farm. If you usually pick up your tree from a store, change things up and cut one down at a farm. Bonus: It makes for great holiday pictures.

This post was originally published on January 3, 2023, and has since been updated.


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