Thirty-degree weather? Check. Heavy coats, gloves, hats, and scarves? Check. Cup of hot chocolate to warm your hands while you walk to class/work because you forgot your gloves? Check. Winter is basically here — fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you feel about the cold. I totally wanted to create a fall bucket list earlier this semester but then I got caught up in other blog posts and class work and all that other fun stuff, so I’m making it up by creating a super fun winter bucket list! Bucket lists usually motivate me to get things to done that I really want to do, and they’re a great way to organize ideas for fun outings and activities. If you’re intent on not spending your winter recess with Netflix and a blanket (as amazing as that sounds) add these ideas to your bucket list.
1. Make a gingerbread house.
Not only do gingerbread houses look cute on Instagram, but they also make for a cute girl’s night or family activity. This is a holiday tradition you can’t pass up, and there are so many ways to get creative with it. I suggest looking up gingerbread house decoration ideas on Pinterest. But if you don’t have the patience or the architectural skill to build a gingerbread house, you can never go wrong with holiday cookies! Just the other night my friend and I baked literally mountains of cookies in the midst of finals week!
2. Have a secret santa exchange with friends.
I have always been a fan of secret santa exchanges because you don’t have to buy a gift for every single person in your friend group, which means you can save a lot of money and put more focus and thought into one gift for one person. Of course, what usually happens is we all get that one big gift that our giftee really wants and then we get something small for everyone else in the group, like homemade cookies in treat bags or tiny bundles from Bath & Body Works. This is a super fun exchange and you can even make it into an event with dinner and hot cocoa.
P.S., if you need gift ideas for EVERYONE in your life, be sure to check out my Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide!
3. Have a winter-themed photoshoot.
Over the past year, I have really come to love taking pictures of things — college events, my food, selfies, nothing in particular — and I often grab my suite mate or my camera savvy bestie and take photos of me outside doing things to use for blog posts (like the one below!). Photos are really fun ways to look back on the things you’ve done, so this is a great idea for your bucket list. Get your friends and grab someone’s phone and get creative. There’s also a lot of photoshoot inspo to be found on Pinterest.
4. Send holiday cards to friends.
Travel back in time to when email didn’t exist and a text message was basically like a dream. Sending holiday cards feels so much more personal than a quick text message. I’m not shitting on text messages (they’re still really thoughtful) but if you want to go the extra mile and show your friends and family that you’re thinking about them, invest in a pack of holiday cards and fill each of them with your favorite memories from the last year, things you love the most about them, etc. I have never sent holiday cards to people but this year I really want to. My relationship with stationery went from love to obsession in a few months time, so this is a great excuse for me to purchase cute cards, pens, envelopes and embossing tools that I don’t actually need.
5. Have a hot cocoa night with family or friends.
Seeing as this is a winter bucket list, something related to hot cocoa has to be on here. Or maybe it’s because I recently got a new Keurig and have been making peppermint hot cocoa in my room everyday for the last few weeks…Anyway, hot cocoa making is the perfect indoor activity on a dreadful day. This would be a great time to sit down in front of the tv with family and just chat and enjoy each other’s company. I know I won’t have much face time with my family this winter recess because I’ll be off to Europe to study abroad as soon as January begins and I’m coming back two days before the start of my spring semester. And of course, I also want to have as many hang outs with friends — old and new — before I leave, so this one is definitely on my bucket list.
6.Have a good, long talk about college, your relationship status, and other awkward things with your parents.
Well, this is probably inevitable, but maybe hot cocoa will make it less awkward (see above). Your parents and family members will ask questions about your last couple of months of school, so you might as well get it out of the way. If the person you’re dating is not a topic of conversation you’d like to have, some other ideas include the classes you’re taking next semester, how far along you are in your degree program, which professors were the absolute worst this semester, and how many all-nighters you pulled (a little sympathy is nice sometimes).
7. Discover a new place to eat in your area.
This could be a cafe, restaurant, deli — anything, really. While I do have some favorites that I wouldn’t mind revisiting over and over again, I also love trying out new places to get food. I usually look to Instagram and websites like Cosmopolitan and Popsugar to tell me which New York City eateries are dishing out the hottest new Instagram food craze, then I make it my mission to go out and try it for myself. If anyone knows any must-visit eateries in New York City, do let me know in the comments! I’d love to visit them this winter!
8. Pet a reindeer.
My reasoning behind this one is simply that I just really want to pet a reindeer. Honestly, I’m not even sure if there are even farms or places where you can pet reindeer. I’m not even sure it’s safe to pet reindeer, as they’re probably really sensitive animals and you wouldn’t want to scare them. I’m not a reindeer expert, but that would be my guess. I do know, however, that you can pet tons of cute kitties in New York City thanks to the cat cafe! It’s called Meow Parlour and it has been on my bucket list all semester! But if you manage to get to pet a reindeer, though, you should totally take a picture and tag me on Instagram so I can cry tears of joy and be jealous at the same time.
9. Learn how to crochet.
I’ve been crocheting for maybe five or six years now and it’s definitely one of my favorite pastimes during winter. I always feel so inspired (and motivated) to crochet warm beanies, scarves, and headbands to wear out. Once you’re in the zone, it’s so easy to crochet for hours on end while you sit in front of the tv. So cozy (and a bit addicting!). Did I mention that crocheted items also make beautiful gifts for friends and family?
10. Reflect on your semester.
This is a very college thing that everyone should do at some point before they return for the spring semester. Reflecting on your semester allows you to see where your strong points were, where your weaknesses were, where you ended up by the end of the semester, and where you want to be by the end of the next one. It is essential to setting new goals because how do you know what to aim for if you don’t know where you stand? In order to have a fruitful reflection, I suggest getting a small journal to record your thoughts on your semester. You can even turn it into some type of bullet journal to make it prettier and more fun to look at. I know it’s easy to just want to put the semester behind you (I’m not even home yet and I already want to put this semester behind me) but taking time to think about things can help you be on top of your game next semester and avoid making any mistakes that were made during this one.
11. Check up on your bank account and other financials.
This may not be very fun — especially if you ran out of meal points during the semester — but, like the previous point, it’s definitely an essential. I’ll admit that throughout the semester, even though I said I would be diligent about my financial tracker and my expense tracker — I certainly wasn’t. In fact, I completely forgot I had made one. So I like to save the winter break for cleaning up and reorganizing myself financially. Plus, if I need to run to my bank for any reason, I have enough time to take care of everything because I’m at home.
Related: 13 Tips For Saving Money In College
12. Ride a ferry boat.
I rode a ferry for the first time last winter and personally, I thought it was magical. I had never been on a boat before so the feeling of gliding over water, the wind in your hair, and the seagulls swooping overhead was so cool and surreal. Like, it literally gave me life. I know that not many people would see it that way, but if you’ve never traveled over water before, use this winter to do so. Of course, the cold weather isn’t ideal for standing on deck with the seagulls (I learned that the hard way) but nevertheless, it’s still pretty fun. You can read all about my experience on the Staten Island Ferry here.
13. Go to an animal shelter and keep the animals company.
Socializing animals is a fun way to spend the day. Many of them are happy to be petted and played with (if the shelter allows you to take them out of the cages and hold them — ask first!!!). By the way, this is a super cute and unique date idea for the winter time! Making your furry friends happy is always so heart warming. Always make sure you call up your local shelter first to see if you’re allowed to come in and pet the animals or bring them treats.
14. Go on a carriage ride.
Last but not least, add a carriage ride to your list. This may not be a super unique thing to do during the winter because literally everyone and their mother is going to want to try to take a stroll through the city by horse drawn carriage in the spirit of the holidays, but it’s certainly worth doing if you haven’t done it yet. This is definitely on my winter list alongside going on a bus tour around the city.
What’s on your winter bucket list?