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This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Absolut x Kahlúa, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.

7 Festive Things to Check Off Your Holiday Bucket List Before the Season Ends

woman, fireplace, espresso martini, sheet music"
woman, fireplace, espresso martini, sheet music
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider

For a holiday-loving girlie like myself, I start getting antsy around early August about what color tinsel to put on my tree and which type of garland I’m going to hang. In my book, it simply is the most magical time of the year. It also happens to be a particularly busy time period as well, one that is packed to the hilt with shopping errands, social engagements, and travel arrangements.

With such a hectic schedule, it can be easy to let this fleeting season fly by without enjoying some of its merriest moments. Enter: the holiday bucket list. It’s my way of ensuring that I’m not left with a whole lot of FOMO at the end of the season. By keeping the list short and sweet, it doesn’t overwhelm me, and it’s completely manageable to squeeze at least one festivity in each weekend. Here are the seven things that I make sure not to miss during the holiday hustle.

1. Host a holiday cocktail hour

The best thing about hosting a cocktail hour versus a full-on dinner party is that you get to mix and mingle without having to sweat about serving your guests an entire meal. Set out a nibble board and some drinks, and you’re good to go. One way that I like to elevate the occasion is by serving a signature holiday cocktail. It feels really festive, and it also cuts down on having to stock a full bar.

My go-to signature drink is the espresso martini. With two parts Absolut vodka, one part Kahlúa, and one part espresso, it’s sweet but not too sweet while also feeling a bit decadent (read: my idea of a good time). The smell of espresso in the air definitely perks up a crowd, and if you’ve ever wanted to bottle up the romantic, espresso martini scent, Absolut x Kahlúa has you covered with their new Blend No. 83 fragrance, which has hard launched me into espresso martini season. One spritz of the dark chocolate, sugarcane rum, and Arabica coffee medley, and suddenly I’m texting “espresso martinis and chill?” to the group chat.

It’s available for pre-order now, and I, for one, plan to be at the top of the list—and I’m secretly hoping the limited-time-only crystal flacon bonus comes back, which was inspired by the iconic shape of the espresso martini’s coupe glass. Blend No. 83 starts shipping early December, and you won’t want to miss it!

Woman taking lid off crystal flacon next to espresso martini
Source: Absolut x Kahlúa

2. Decorate holiday cookies

Is it even the holidays without cookies shaped like gingerbread men and snowflakes? Pulling out the cookie cutters and smearing royal icing *everywhere* is one of the most highly-anticipated moments of the year for me. My sisters and I love to go all out for the occasion by wearing our ugly sweaters, blasting holiday music (A Very She & Him Christmas is an all-time fave), and making enough cookies to feed an entire NFL football team. If you’re not a baking queen, just grab some pre-sliced sugar cookie dough from the market and some pre-packaged icing instead. In the words of Ina Garten, “Store-bought is fine.”

3. Watch a few holiday movies

Since your wintertime plans will likely include logging a lot of hours cozied up on the couch, this bucket list item takes the least amount of effort. Well, unless you consider popping popcorn a strenuous activity. Because my list of favorite holiday movies is mind-bogglingly long (anyone else?), the key for me is to prioritize three or four films to watch that season—everything after that is just gravy. And if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you could catch an outdoor holiday movie at a winter cinema or drive-in.

Watching Home Alone at Christmas
Source: Игорь Лушницкий

4. Drive around to look at lights

While I consider myself to be a highly festive person who tends to go a little overboard on the indoor holiday decor, I am not one who puts very much effort into hanging lights outside. That’s why I have to get my fix by driving around to see other people’s lights. There’s a neighborhood near me that puts on a stunning wonderland of lights that you can drive through while tuned into a radio station playing Christmas music. It’s the highlight (pun intended) of the holiday season.

5. Stroll around a holiday market

Nothing beats bundling up in your chicest winter coat and strolling around a bustling holiday market with a warm cup of mulled wine in hand. When the lights are twinkling and the mood is merry, it kind of makes me forget that I can’t feel my face, ya know? My favorite things to shop for at these kinds of markets include candles, pottery, and jewelry. It gives you a chance to support your local artisans and makers while also crossing a few gift items off your list.

Woman in winter coat at holiday market
Source: Ross Sneddon

6. Catch a live holiday performance

If ever there’s a time of year that calls for getting dressed up in a gown, finally wearing that red lipstick, and going out to the theater, the holidays are it. Personally, the can’t-miss show of the season for me is The Nutcracker, which I’ve loved ever since I saw it as a kid. But if ballet is not your thing, there’s always the symphony, a holiday concert, or a live theater show. And if you just can’t be bothered with a box-office event, listening to Christmas carolers totally counts, too.

7. Sip on hot cocoa in front of the fire

Okay, so I saved the best for last. You simply cannot let the holiday season pass you by without enjoying a hot cocoa-by-the-fireside moment. Consider it mandatory, full stop. If you don’t have a fireplace, you can always queue up a Yule log on Netflix instead. Grab your book, put away your phone, and settle in front of the crackling fire with your biggest mug full of hot chocolate. Just don’t forget to garnish it with a candy cane.

Woman holding a mug of hot cocoa
Source: Karolina Grabowska
Absolut vodka and Kahlua logos

This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Absolut x Kahlúa, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.