Festive joy lists :)

A step by step guide to making a festive joy list and tons of suggestions for festive fun. Enjoy 🙂

Download your free printable festive joy list here.

Time seems to speed up at this time of the year 😳 And it’s easy to get bogged down in the to-do list and forget to enjoy yourself. 

Instead, let’s get intentional with a festive joy list so you can focus on fun and remember what you love about this season.

So, I hear you say… 

What is a joy list? And how do I make one? 

I wrote a post all about joy lists a couple of years ago, you can read that here. But in a nutshell, joy lists are…

…a collection of all that comforts and that cheers.

Now doesn’t that sound festive?

Joy lists are a note to self of what you love to see and do, your passions and interests and your favourite ways to spend the day.

Making a joy list focusses the mind on what you love. It sets the tone of your day and of your life. Looking for joy is a powerful act of self-care and it benefits everyone around you too. 

Joy is contagious and we want it to spread.

I like to think of our joy lists as small, but significant steps in making the world a better place for us all 🙂

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How to make a festive joy list?

Let your family know you want to make this festive season the most fun ever.  

Suggest they give some thought to what they love about this time of year and how they’d like to celebrate.

Agree a time and day, and mark it on the calendar.

Give yourselves the gift of a clean canvas with a 5 minute room rescue.

Get comfy and cosy with festive music, sparkly lights and freshly baked cookies. 

And if you’re a fan of festive fashion, hit the charity shops early to grab some winter wonders. Or rent Christmas sweaters online so you can mix and match all season long and give generously at the same time.

Grab your free printable festive joy list to write down your plans.

And let’s get to it…

What to include in a festive joy list?

Places to go and people to see

First off, some big decisions. Map out the key events of the season.

Think about who you want to see, and how that might happen. Make sure the calendar’s up to date and everyone’s on board with this year’s plans.

Some ideas to consider –

You don’t have to do what you’ve always done. If there are family traditions that no longer fit, let them go. Each year is a fresh opportunity to consider what works and change it up if that’s what feels right for you. 

Now we’re all a bit more relaxed with video calling, how about adding in a zoom call or quiz to connect with far-flung relatives, or those you’re unable to see in person.

If you’re not that comfortable on camera or worried you’ll run out of things to say, keep it casual and call while cooking, watching, walking or wrapping (just make sure the camera doesn’t reveal all 🎁) 

Cards and gifts

While wrapping’s on the agenda, let’s talk shopping. Or maybe you prefer to make-your-own?

Of course, you’re bound to have separate lists for these two. And be rocking those lists by now 😉 

But planning your festive joy list, is the perfect time to review your progress and share wish-lists and present ideas with the rest of the family.

Some ideas to consider –

Allow plenty of time to make-your-own 🙂

While shopping, keep your options open, can you buy used, ethical, sustainable, recycled, virtual, or local?

Take the opportunity to support your favourite creators and causes. Or some of ours 🙂 Heartcure, Plant-based cards and Survival all sell cards and gifts for all occasions.

Or ditch the the cards and gifts altogether and give the money, or time you’ve saved, to a good cause on behalf of everyone you love.

Crafts and decorations

Are you early decorators or holding back, planning to to swoop in with short but stunning displays to delight the neighbourhood?

Maybe card and present making is a festival all of it’s own in your house, and hopefully well under way.

Or maybe you’re looking for some new ideas? We’ve got you covered…

Some ideas to consider –

Keep it simple with paperchains, salt-dough and snowflakes 🙂

Enjoy a snow day with Maddie and Greg, the first in a trilogy of Let’s Go Live holiday specials. And if that’s not enough to keep you busy, Maddie’s got you covered for a very curious Christmas with festive fun and seasonal science from around the world.

Check out even more festive themed activities at Nurturestore and Little Bins for Little Hands.  

Watch and playlists.

Being together is the best part of any festive season. And a wonderful chance to make memories you’ll treasure forever. Shared experiences bring us closer together, cementing bonds and deepening connections.

Let’s have some fun and games 🙂

Some ideas to consider –

With so much available on-demand, poring over the tv schedule to make sure we catch our favourite show isn’t quite the same these days. But planning our festive viewing can still be a real treat.

Plan a family movie night, and don’t forget the hot chocolate, mulled wine and tasty treats. How about a movie marathon – all the Star Wars movies back to back? Binge watching your favourite series? Or some classic quiz shows and some friendly competition?

Why not host your own family festive challenge? In the past we’ve enjoyed table tennis and darts championships.  This year we’re having a photo Christmas Challenge – each day in December we’re taking pictures inspired by the date and the following day everyone gets to vote for their favourite. Who will be the winner this year?

Festive food and treats

Take the chance to canvass ideas on what the family would like to eat this festive season. Happy with the old favourites, or looking for new recipes to impress?

As we’re mostly vegan, with a couple of vegetarians in the mix, we usually take our own dinner to family events, making sure there’s plenty to share.

Some ideas to consider –

Once you’ve gathered ideas, consider meal planning, batch cooking and prepping ahead as much as possible.

Plan some fun baking sessions. A batch of cookies, or a gingerbread house, anyone?

Maybe you enjoy Stir Up Sunday? A bit late for that this year, I know. And we’re not even fans of Christmas Pudding. But listening to The Archers on their Stir Up Sunday, it’s a family tradition and reminds me of my Grandad every year. Such a joy. And as I’m always playing catch up with my favourite podcasts that joy is still to come 🙂

Rituals and routines

And talking of traditions, predictable rituals and routines give us a sense of comfort in times like these. Celebrating the festivities with family and friends might be some of the highlights of your year. But they can be super busy and stressful too.

Having some familiar rituals and routines connects us together, bringing a sense of peace and calm in an often chaotic time, and allows excitement to build around regular anticipated events. When you know at least some of what’s coming, you get to plan, prepare and look forward with joy.

Some ideas to consider –

Advent is all about anticipation and there are so many creative ideas on the web for calendars, and challenges, jars, boxes and envelopes. We’ve rounded up some of our favourites here.

For the third year running we’re enjoying The Nutcracker Art Experience, it’s already started but this year you can grab a backstage pass so you can catch up and enjoy at your leisure.  

Reading aloud is always a favourite round here. And festive read-alouds are the best. Right now, we’re enjoying these Read Aloud Christmas Stories by Alice Griffin, gorgeous 🙂

A festive readathon or a Jolabokaflod are great ways to smash your annual reading challenge. I’m reading classic Dickens with my book club, this year. What about you?

How about a festive poetry teatime, or two? So many options. Explore poems and festivities around the world and back in time.

And in-between all that reading, let’s get active.

Ice-skating, stargazing, dark walks to see the lights, climbing up your nearest hill, and sledging down again. What’s your favourite?

If like us, you’re somewhere cold – okay, I know it’s not really really cold in the UK, but y’know for us 🙂 – bundle up warm and focus on how wonderful it feels to come home after a bracing walk in the elements. Try an outdoor hours challenge or join 12 days wild for gentle reminders to get outside. 

But if you really can’t face it, or it’s just not possible… Enjoy a walking workout at home, bouncing on a mini-trampoline, or a relaxing yoga session with the wonderful wanderingalice.

And if you’re looking for even more ideas, you’ll love Sara’s post on Making Christmas Magical 🙂

So, what are you waiting for?

Whatever you celebrate. a festive joy list is a great way to get intentional and make the most of the festive season.

A word of warning: Don’t let perfectionism get the better of you. If there’s a risk that waiting for the perfect moment means you never get started, do it now…

Grab your free printable, start chatting with the family individually, or en masse. Make a list of ideas, and put it on the fridge. Then add more ideas as they come.

Job done. Let the fun begin 🙂

And remember this is about what brings you joy, not what you think you should be doing. Our festive joy list this year, is all about staying cosy and close to home. We’re looking forward to lots of festive music, movies and dance parties in the kitchen. 

How about you? 

I’d love to know what’s on your festive joy list, leave a comment down below or join us over on Instagram. 

If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, or in a place where joy feels a long way away, these might help –

Self-soothing checklists : the secret to raising our mood and energy levels fast

Soothing quotes for scary times

And if you’d like more ideas about taking a kinder path to the festivities, you’re in the right place.

Anxious about seeing friends and family who might not share your parenting and education choices, have concerns about the S-word (not shopping, Santa!) and want to stay calm, respectful and kind this festive season?

Check out 20 Reassuring resources for respectful parenting at Christmas (and the whole year round).

Don’t forget to grab your free printable 🎄

Wishing you all the most joyous and kind festivities, and thanks for reading x

This post was originally published in December 2020, updated in 2021 and again in 2023 🙂

Keep reading:

4 steps to getting ahead for the holidays, and maybe, even forever 🙂

20 Reassuring resources for respectful parenting at Christmas (and the whole year round)

Dealing with conflict at Christmas : taking a kinder path


  1. Oh, I appreciate this and I feel like the timing is so good for us. We got our ideas together in mid- November and have been having lots of fun, but we’ve also had a lot of appointments and work commitments the last few weeks that have now slowed down as of yesterday. Yay🙂. I feel like we’re ready for the next level, lol, and really have an emptier slate for the next while so these ideas were great for a reset!

    1. Hayley says:

      Thanks Erin, so glad you liked these ideas. Hope you’re enjoying your quieter time and getting in lots more fun stuff. Wishing you all much joy this festive season 🙂

  2. I adore this! In particular this really sang to me, “Facetime family and friends while preparing a meal or watching a show.” It’s such a simple but brilliant idea! I find it exhausting sitting at the screen, we need more “everyday interaction”—I’m definitely going to implement this one! So many ideas here Hayley. I love it. And imagine my surprise when you mentioned reading my stories! Honestly—totally touched. Thank you. It’s wonderful to be connected x

    1. Hayley says:

      Thanks Alice, glad you like that idea, it works for us so well.

      A post about festive joy – of course I had to link to your stories, they’re bringing us so much joy right now! ‘Christmas cake, lemon drops, Mrs Santa never stops’, although we were thinking those poorly elves could’ve done with a nap really 🙂

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