Johnson Holiday Bucket List

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are upon us again. Despite the 70 degree weather outside and lack of snow on the ground in Colorado, we are getting ready to spend our 9th Christmas together with Emma. Traditions are what my immediate family is known for (people mention we should write a book), so holiday bucket lists are top on our list. Here are some of our go to ways we like to celebrate the season!

Cutting down our tree in Buffalo Creek

Cut Down Our Tree in the Forest

Every year, we grab a tree permit (available online through and head to the national forest to cut down our own Christmas tree. Some years we have had snow on the ground, and some years it has been dry. Sometimes we make just a day of it. Sometimes we make a weekend of it. This year we are headed to Winter Park to find a tree and also get in some skiing with friends. We always decorate the tree at night while watching A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Holiday Tea at the Hotel Boulderado

Holiday Tea

We aren’t the fancy dress type of family, but we love to pick a holiday event every year where we can get dressed up. This year, we are attending tea at the Hotel Boulderado where sounds of the season will fill the air provided by Traditional Victorian Holiday Carolers. Each day of tea features different musicians and entertainment from the Nutcracker Ballet to pianists. They still have reservation openings if you would like to add this to your list this holiday season.

Olivia the Good Deeds Elf

Olivia arrives just before Thanksgiving to help our family spread good cheer throughout the season. We do all kinds of fun things from paying for the car behind us in line to donating toys to toys for tots. This is one of our favorite ways to enjoy this season.

One of the 24 books we read

24 Books of Christmas

Every night leading up to the big day, we read a holiday themed book. It’s a great chance for the family to connect and slow down over a cup of tea or hot cocoa. Sometime in November, I gather the books and we go through them to see if there are any we would like to replace. There are always the classic we read like Frosty and The Night Before Christmas on the 24th. We have added a few fun new ones in the past years including Home Alone (based on the movie Emma loves) and The Christmas Owl.

Hike to the Boulder Star

The Boulder Star (sometimes called the Flagstaff Star) is lit every year around Veteran’s Day. The star has been a favorite symbol of the holidays since 1947. In the past, you could hike up to the star. Erosion and COVID-19 have caused the area to be closed off for the past two years. But, we plan to go see the star from a parking lot below it this year and have a picnic like dinner.

Watch Christmas Movies

Who doesn’t love a quiet and snuggly evening at home in pajamas with the fire place roaring? We ALWAYS plan a Christmas movie marathon day where we just stay home and watch movies. We also have evenings where we sneak in a movie with dinner since there are so many good ones. This year, we even went to the drive-in at Red Rocks to watch Home Alone. I think the holiday drive-in will be a new bucket list item for us. Last year, we went to see Christmas Story in a parking lot by a movie theater.

Visit With Santa

While sometimes we just do a simple Santa visit, some years we do something a bit more exciting. A few years ago, Emma climbed to the top of the wall at Neptune Mountaineering to visit Santa. This year, she is going to climb the wall at G 1 Climbing and Fitness and meet Santa up on portaledge.

Headed out for a light scavenger hunt on bikes

Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt

There are many lists for Christmas light scavenger hunts you can find on Pinterest. We print off a new one every year. We typically do two hunts- one via bike and one via car.

Zoo Lights/ Blossom of Lights

Every year we like to go to at least one walk through light display. In the past, we have done Zoo Lights and Blossom of Light. This year, we will be headed to Zoo Lights again a few days before Christmas.

Additional Bucket List Ideas:

Holiday Parade

Ice Skating

Make Cookies

Charades and Holiday Theme Game Night

Fire pit and S’mores Night

Winter Picnic

Decorate a Gingerbread House

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