My 2019 Holiday Fun List

I love my lists. My seasonal fun lists (see summer, late winter, or the 2018 holiday list) nudge me to brainstorm what adventures would make each season memorable.

That’s particularly important around the holidays, which are all about conjuring up special feelings. Longtime readers know — as we head into Thanksgiving next week — that I’m not into simplifying the season. Indeed, to me, Christmas is a great occasion to consciously make time feel a little more full and rich. Much like the season’s cuisine! I’m especially cognizant of that this year, when January will bring a newborn who — for all his cuteness — will make going out in fancy clothes more complicated.

A side note: We have a fair amount planned because we are not traveling anywhere this year (due to the impending arrival of said newborn). The kids are out of school for 8 days or so, and we have been making daily plans to avoid going stir crazy.

So here’s what’s on the holiday fun list this year:

Matching family pajamas! I bought these but we have not tried them on yet. I got winter-themed ones so we’ll get some post-Christmas use out of them. And I bought an 0-3 month size one! He’ll be part of the family, so why not make it official?

Learn to play Linus and Lucy. I’d put this on a previous goal list and not done it. I finally ordered the sheet music for the Charlie Brown Christmas show. I’ve played it through a few times. Kind of tricky, as I’ve not done jazz piano before. But I’m enjoying a new challenge, especially now this year when I have a real piano!

Build the Lego Gingerbread house. My 10-year-old and 8-year-old are assisting on this project. Next year we will not be able to leave small Lego pieces in accessible places, so this is the year for putting together the 1000-piece sets. There are 200-plus steps, and we’re at about 50, so this may take all the way to Christmas.

Put candles in the windows. We have done this (electric candles, of course), and it really makes the house look welcoming as dark comes early.

Philadelphia Zoo LumiNature. We have tickets for the zoo’s new winter light show. I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve done with this.

The Choo Choo Barn. This train display in a small strip mall store in Lancaster was honestly one of my holiday highlights last year. We’ll likely go over Thanksgiving, and may also stop by the PA Railroad museum, and possibly Dutch Wonderland for their lights.

Sing in my choir’s Christmas concert in mid-December, and on Christmas Eve (7:30 p.m. service). I can see from upcoming music lists that we’re singing “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree,” which is one of my favorite pieces. The concert also features the Brandywine Brass. I don’t think I’ll sing in the midnight service, lest that result in Santa skipping our house, but I love singing Christmas music, and I’ll be doing a lot of that this month.

Go on a festive “baby moon” with my husband. It’s more of a mini-moon, but we plan to go to New York City, possibly take in an art museum, go out to eat, sleep in a hotel, and do brunch the next day.

See the Nutcracker. This is a holiday tradition at this point. My three older children, and my mother-in-law (who is visiting for the holidays) will accompany me to the PA Ballet’s production.

See the Morris Garden Railway. Another holiday train display! We may have gotten tickets to just about every holiday light show in the greater Philadelphia region….

Longwood Gardens Christmas lights. We normally do breakfast with Santa, but I never saw anything about that this year. So, instead, I got tickets to walk around and see the lights after dark.

Host my extended family holiday party. Now that my parents have moved to the East Coast, we’re all within two hours from each other. I know tradition calls for a Christmas dinner ham but the truth is…I don’t like ham. Maybe I can supplement with something else. Tenderloin?

See the kids in the church Christmas pageant. All four of them are now old enough to be in it!

See the Cirque du Soleil Christmas show. Another one we got tickets for in order to get the kids out of the house. We’ve got cousins visiting for a while too, so we’re also looking at Disney on Ice, Elmwood Park Zoo’s Wild Lights…

Purchase gifts in a calm and orderly fashion. My husband and I have made a pact to really think through what we’re giving each kid, so we can avoid realizing late that we’ve forgotten something, or one kid is getting a lot more than someone else, and so forth. In general, it’s better to shop early and thus preserve the option to triage later, rather than being forced into gifts you aren’t thrilled about. The goal is happy faces on Christmas morning, without a lot of junk that doesn’t get played with.

What’s on your holiday fun list this year?

12 thoughts on “My 2019 Holiday Fun List

  1. Other options for dinner: Leg of lamb? Rib eye roast? I like ham, but only when glazed with my mom’s honey/orange glaze which I don’t know how to make. We love the rib eye roast and have been doing this for several years now. Expensive, but DELICIOUS.

    Thanks for the Longwood Gardens tip! I’d forgotten about that, and I think we will buy tickets now!

    Also thinking about Disney on Ice and the Philadelphia Zoo. Husband may take daughter with a friend since only cousin lives in Italy.

    I also need to plan the Christmas haul. I have to buy stuff for a new au pair who will be arriving soon before the holiday so she doesn’t feel left out. Daughter wants more Playmobil. I feel like we always buy at the last minute and then go overboard, like you said. Maybe I can be more proactive this year and avoid that!

    1. Leg of lamb is our Christmas tradition!! With parslied potatoes, peas and carrots. It’s actually a super easy dinner but feels and looks festive.

  2. I actually like to include the shopping around as part of my list! I find it’s nice to think about what someone might really love. I do want to avoid that last minute panic feeling too, especially with my office staff who I feel can be difficult to shop for but whose efforts I really appreciate!
    I love your idea about the candles and might try that this year!

  3. I don’t think ham is a Christmas thing. My family has roast beef for Christmas. And I feel like in books you are always hearing about people having a goose for Christmas. But really, if you are hosting, you could have whatever you want! Create a new tradition!

  4. My Australian holiday list includes :
    1. An outdoor Christmas movie
    2. Breakfast picnic & an early play at the park
    3. Baking Belgium biscuits
    4. The all-in competitive friends & family gingerbread house decorating day (which involves 20+ people and an enormous amount of sugar)
    5. Going for a walk around the city to see the Christmas lights trail

    Plus we have all the end of the school year Christmas concerts, carols & class parties….

    My goal for gifts this year is to buy local from neighbourhood shops as much as possible and minimise on-line shopping.

  5. It’s so interesting how people’s assumptions of holiday menus can differ. I’d never think of ham for Christmas—my family always had roast turkey (again) or chicken for Christmas and ham every Easter. Recently I’ve been making rib roast for Christmas dinner (a la the roast beast from The Grinch!) and it’s delicious. I recommend this recipe very highly. https://www.wegmans.com/meals-recipes/meals/main-course/garlic-studded-rib-roast.html

    Enjoy your Christmas activities!

  6. I always love your seasonal fun lists!
    On an unrelated note, I just want to mention that something on your podcast about making Sundays more fun has really changed my weekends. I think it was your or Sarah’s idea to plan something fun on Sunday nights? It really makes the weekend feel longer and makes Sunday night not such a drag. Last week my husband and I planned dinner out on Sunday, and today we went to a concert. It has made me look forward all weekend to the “highlight” on Sunday. So, thanks so much for that tip!

  7. Am I the only weirdo who thinks lasagna is an amazing Christmas dinner? You can prep it ahead and just bake it day of, and serve with salad, green beans, bread, etc. It’s usually a crowd-pleaser, too. Long live carbs! 🙂

    1. @LD – I had not considered lasagna, but you are correct that just about everyone likes it. I’m currently leaning toward a tenderloin, but we shall see!

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