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Happy New Year!
This January bucket list is dedicated to the best of what the month has to offer – a fresh start and an invitation to embrace the slower pace that winter offers.
With the magic and merry making of the holiday season behind us, the winter months can prove tough for mental health.
To fight the winter blues, find meaningful forms of self-care and schedule some things to look forward to. Without further ado, here are some ideas!
January Bucket List – Celebrate New Year’s Day
Eat good luck foods.
Here’s a list of good luck foods – find a favorite that becomes your family’s New Year’s Day meal tradition.
Host an open house brunch.
Invite friends and family to ring in the new year with an open house brunch. Throw a couple make-ahead egg bakes in the oven and provide drinks. Have your guests bring sides like muffins or fruit.
Eat at a new restaurant.
Start the new year with a meal out at a new-to-your-family restaurant.
Do a polar bear plunge.
It’s Polar Bear Plunge Day for any brave souls willing to jump into frigid water! (NOT IT.)
Watch college football.
Two semifinal games, the Rose Bowl and the Allstate Sugar Bowl, take place on New Year’s Day in 2024. Turn the day into a football watching party.
“Begin as you mean to go on.”
Whether it’s taking more walks, eating dinner as a family, or having more local adventures, spend the day in a way you’d like to continue throughout the year.
January Bucket List – Get a Fresh Start
There’s no better time for new beginnings than the start of a new year.
Start a yearly reading log.
I love the fun reading log templates available at Everyday Reading. You can use one to track individual family members’ reading, or you can keep one for your family read-aloud books.
You might also consider keeping a family reading journal – I wish I’d started something like this years ago!
Start a family calendar.
Even if you keep your personal calendar electronically, consider keeping a separate physical calendar to record family events and outings.
It’s an easy way to set kids’ expectations for the day and week ahead. My kids love knowing what’s on the agenda and what they can look forward to.
Start a new weekly ritual.
Whether it’s deciding that Saturday means pancakes 😊, Tuesday means tacos, or Friday means family movie night, a weekly ritual nurtures your family’s connection and offers kids a source of happy anticipation.
➡️ Here are ten reasons why traditions are one of the best investments you can make in your family.
Start a new daily ritual.
Think of daily family rituals as scheduled moments of love. You might start the day with an inspiring quote, create a morning playlist, or start reading aloud 15 minutes together each evening (kids of ALL ages enjoy being read to!).
Make a family vision board.
If you didn’t do this as part of your family New Year’s Eve celebration, here’s a good tutorial. It’s a fun way to dream together and start the year on a positive note.
Pick a word of the year.
Have each family member reflect on the past year, then pick a word that encompasses their focus for the upcoming one. Here’s a guide.
You can also try to pick a word as a family – travel? Kindness? Community? What will your year be about?
Dream about the year.
Through a vision board, a word of the year, or just some open-ended questions, do some dreaming.
Ask your kids what they’d like to do more of. Pose follow-up questions. Jot down notes. Together, decide on some new intentions. More on that next!
Set intentions versus resolutions.
As you contemplate making changes in the new year, consider setting intentions instead of resolutions.
I love Wendi Cherry’s explanation of the difference:
“Resolutions are a firm decision to do or not to do something. They’re strict, with no wiggle room. You either stick to them or fail, which is why most of our resolutions are distant memories by February.
An intention is a practice that requires us to be present rather than stuck in the past or too focused on the future….
Simply put, intentions define the actions we take today, while goals and resolutions are future focused. These concepts are great in theory but cause significant stress, especially when we ‘fail’ to achieve what we’ve set out to do.”
Intentions can point you in the direction of change without the black-and-white, fail-or-succeed mentality inherent to resolutions.
Take on a 30-Day Challenge.
With so many different 30-day challenges to choose from, January can be a great time to jumpstart healthy habits with the support of a community.
Consider a daily challenge that feeds your spirit — spending a minimum of 5 minutes outside, reading a chapter in a novel in lieu of scrolling on social media, or drinking a cup of tea to relax at the end of each day.
Start a family journal.
There is so much pressure on moms to create baby books, vacation photobooks, etc. It’s time-consuming and labor-intensive, and one more way to feel like you’re not living up to the gold star standard.
That’s why I love Bernadette Noll’s idea (as written in her book Slow Family Living) to instead create a family journal.
Grab a sketchpad or 3-ring binder, some fun pens, and, if you want to divide your journal into sections, some divider tabs.
Then use the journal however suits your family. Write down when your kiddo learned to ride a bike, the funny thing someone said at dinner, how you had so much fun on vacation.
It’s the perfect way to create a wonderful family heirloom while also ditching the guilt and responsibility of being sole memory keeper. Win-win.
Pick an impactful book to recenter yourself each January.
There are certain books that fundamentally alter how we think and act, others that elicit such warm feelings we grieve when we read the last page. The month of January is the perfect time to revisit such a book.
January Bucket List – Enjoy the Great Outdoors
Scope out deals on winter gear.
Paradoxically, it’s when temperatures really start plummeting that all the snowpants and mittens start going on clearance.
Take advantage of this weirdness! Get high-quality winter gear that allows you and your family to enjoy being outdoors even on the most frigid days. As the Scandinavian saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”
Enjoy the winter weather.
Whether it’s ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, a winter hike, or just a snowball fight and snow angels, find fun things to do outside to enjoy winter.
➡️ Check out The Ultimate Winter Bucket List for lots more outdoor fun ideas.
January Bucket List – Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day
As a family, pay tribute to the legend of this civil rights hero.
Honor the day with service.
Volunteering in your community honors the wishes of King’s widow, Coretta Scott King: “The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrated the holiday by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others.”
Here’s a printable list of 100 random acts of kindness for kids from Coffee Cups and Crayons.
Celebrate his words.
Jot down one or two of MLK’s famous quotes and tape them on your front door or in your window, or use sidewalk chalk to write one on a public sidewalk (if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where sidewalks aren’t covered with snow and ice!).
Here are a few favorites:
- “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
- “In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
- “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
- “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
- “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Listen to King’s “I Have a Dream Speech.”
Here’s a recording of the address. The entire speech is less than 7 minutes, yet contains some of the most well-known phrases in American history.
Read about King and his life.
Many titles are listed in this compilation.
January Bucket List – Bring on the Coziness
Find your favorite fireplace.
Reading a good book by a crackling fire is always a good idea at this time of year. If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, you’re all set!
If not, consider it a personal challenge – check out coffee shops and building lobbies near you in search of the best fireplace.
Stop at the library ahead of time to pick out new books, then grab a hot drink and settle in for one of the greatest pleasures of the season.
Decorate with pinecones, evergreens, and candles.
Taking down the Christmas tree and putting away the holiday decor shouldn’t mean losing all the homey seasonal touches. Here’s the best way to decorate after Christmas without lots of clutter.
For more ideas on seasonal decorating and hosting, check out Welcome Home: A Cozy Minimalist Guide to Decorating and Hosting All Year Round by Myquillyn Smith or A Lovely Life: Savoring Simple Joys in Every Season by Melissa Michaels.
Declare a movie marathon on a bad weather day.
When the weather is frightful, movies are delightful! Grab a pile of quilts, some good snacks, and settle in. Here’s a list of movie marathon ideas available with a Disney+ subscription.
Play board games.
Family game nights are a great way to spend quality time together.
Buy fresh flowers or a new houseplant.
Bringing home some plant greenery is a great way to raise your spirit during the drab, cold months.
Hygge is a Danish word that translates roughly to coziness and comfort, and it’s a great thing to turn to when the days are gray and chilly.
If you haven’t read The Little Book of Hygge yet this season, now’s the time to do so.
Besides being full of good ideas on getting comfy, cozy, and connected, this little book features a beautiful design that makes for great décor.
➡️ Check out The Ultimate Winter Bucket List for lots more cozy hibernation ideas.
What are your family’s new year traditions? Any rituals to brighten the mood when the days are cold and gray and the holiday season is over? Comment below!