Festive joy lists :)

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

You might be wondering, what is a joy list? And why do we need 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 our very own note to self of what we love to see and do, our passions and interests and our favourite ways to spend the day.

Making a joy list focusses the mind on what we love. It sets the tone of our day and of our life. Looking for joy is a powerful act of self-care and benefits those around us 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 πŸ™‚

How to make a festive joy list?

Give everyone in the family a heads-up. Let them know you’d like to get together soon and plan how 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.

Make the space even more cosy and inviting with some festive music, pretty lighting and some freshly baked cookies. And don’t forget the festive sweaters πŸ™‚

Grab some paper and pens 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. This year, more than ever, there might be complicated logistics, legal restrictions and health and safety issues we’ve never considered before.

Make sure the calendar’s up to date and everyone’s on board with the plans.

Some ideas to consider –

We don’t have to do what we’ve always done. If there are family traditions that no longer serve us, this year is a great opportunity to examine what everyone wants and change it up a bit.

Enjoy a zoom call or quiz to connect with far-flung relatives, or those you’re unable to see in person.

Facetime family and friends while preparing a meal or watching a show. No need to stare at a screen worried you’ll run out of interesting things to say. Get on with your day and take a loved one along for the ride. We’ve done this a lot with our daughter while she’s away at Uni, and it’s a joy πŸ™‚

Cards and gifts

Let’s talk about 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 πŸ™‚ But planning our festive joy lists, is the perfect time to review our progress and to share our own wish-lists and present ideas for everyone else.

Some ideas to consider –

Allow plenty of time to make-your-own πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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

We’re just coming out of our second lockdown here in England and many people took the opportunity to get their deccies up super early.

Maybe the annual Christmas card and gift 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 πŸ™‚

Check out the festive themed activities on Nurturestore, Little Bins for Little Hands and The Swanburne Academy (currently offering 30 days free, a gift indeed).Β 

If you’re worried about waste and want to keep this festive season as kind to the planet as possible, check out Sarah’s Top 12 tips for less waste and less stress at Christmas.

Watch and playlists.

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

Let’s have some fun and games πŸ™‚

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 in some family movie nights, 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 competition? Here, we’ll be enjoying many game nights – cards, board games, video games and quizzes are all on the table. And speaking of tables – our table tennis championship will be kicking off very soon πŸ™‚

A festive puzzle always goes down well here too. But for some of us, this can be a dangerous one, who knows how long we’ll get sucked into the abyss?

Festive food and treats

Take this opportunity to gather ideas on what the family would like to eat this festive season. Happy with the old favourites, or looking for new recipes to try out?

As we’re mostly vegan, with a couple of vegetarians in the mix, we usually take our own dinner to family events, while making sure there’s plenty to share. Good motivation to keep looking out for new and yummy dishes to impress πŸ™‚

Some ideas to consider –

Once we’ve gathered everyone’s ideas, we can meal plan, batch cook and prep 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 πŸ™‚

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 our year. But they can be super busy and stressful too.

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

This year events may have been cancelled or altered almost beyond recognition. Maybe we won’t be able to follow some of our usual rituals and routines but what a wonderful chance to build in some new ones.

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 made these DIY Lego advent calendars a few years running and we love them.

Reading aloud is also 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 πŸ™‚

Join a festive readathon. A great chance to smash your annual reading challenge and check out some classics. I’m up for some Dickens this year, fancy joining me?

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, venturing up your nearest hill, and maybe sledging down.

If like us, you’re somewhere cold – okay, I know it’s not really really cold in the UK, but y’know for us πŸ™‚ – bundle up warm and focus on how wonderful it feels to come home after a bracing walk in the elements.

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 taking turns on the Wii Fit or Ring Fit Adventure.

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

So, what are you waiting for?

With Diwali and Samhain behind us, Advent in full flow, and Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas and Hogmanay to come. For many of us, the festive season is well under way.

But whatever your celebrations of choice and wherever you might be in the planning process, a festive joy list is a great way to get intentional and make the most of the festive season.

Just don’t let perfectionism get the better of you, been there and done that πŸ™‚ If waiting for the perfect moment means you never get started on your festive joy list, just start now…

Grab a piece of paper, start chatting with the family individually, or en masse. Make a list of everyone’s ideas, and put it on the fridge. Then add more ideas as they come.

Job done. Let the fun begin πŸ™‚

If you’re already feeling stressed and overwhelmed by Christmas, these posts 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 resources around respectful parenting and the festive season, 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?

I’m gathering some great resources just for you. Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss it πŸ™‚

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


  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. YayπŸ™‚. 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 πŸ™‚

  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”β€”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! Honestlyβ€”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! β€˜Christmas cake, lemon drops, Mrs Santa never stops’, although we were thinking those poorly elves could’ve done with a nap really πŸ™‚

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