Make family memories with our holiday Bucket List
From Christmas experiences kids will never forget to all the Champaign-Urbana holiday family fun you’ve been waiting for: Don’t miss a thing with our holiday Bucket List.
Here is our list of holiday “bucket list” to-dos, customized for Champaign-Urbana area families. Pick one, do all 35, or something in between, but whatever you do, have a wonderful holiday season making festive memories with your crew.
35 fun things to do this holiday season in Champaign-Urbana
1) See The Nutcracker at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, with shows Dec. 2-5. This isn’t any old performance of The Nutcracker and it certainly qualifies as a Champaign-Urbana holiday tradition. Recommended for ages 5 and up.
2) Catch a holiday classic at the Virginia Theatre or watch a holiday TV show. Extra points awarded if it is one you watched as a child.
4) Go on a Hot Chocolate date. Bonus to scoop up some favorite C-U holiday treats while you’re out!
5) Encourage your budding design gurus to make a Gingerbread House. Pick up a kit at the opening night of Night Lights in the Garden (but sign up ahead of time to ensure you get one).
6) Learn to play a new board game during family game night.
7) Check out holiday books from a local library. Stick around for a holiday-themed story hour or party.
9) Go caroling in your neighborhood. If that isn’t your thing, attend a local Christmas music sing-a-long or holiday concert.
11) Take your little ones to a kid-friendly shop so they can do their own shopping. Crisis Nursery won’t be holding its shop this year, but we have heard of at least one other popping up.
12) Take the family to see a live Nativity scene; we have a list for you coming soon. They are all happening in December this year.
13) Put the kiddos in the jammies and drive around to look at holiday lights. Up the fun ante with our Amazing Holiday Lights guide, coming soon. For more of a drive, check out our Central Illinois Lights Trail.
14) Write a letter to Santa, or register for a free phone call or letter from Santa.
15) Get in the Christmas spirit and take in the twinkling lights at the Festival of Trees.
16) Create a new tree tradition! Pick out a live tree or cut your own at these locations around Champaign-Urbana. Want to really get adventurous? Head to the Shawnee National Forest, where you can chop one down Griswold-style for just $5.
17) Donate a toy during our local toy drives, volunteer at the Eastern Illinois Food Bank, or find a “bless a family” opportunity and shop for them.
18) Visit the IDEA store to source materials to make you own paper, make your own snow globe, make your own presents, make a paper wreath, and make some fun!
19) Watch a Christmas Parade. Bring some blankets and a Thermos of hot chocolate!
20) Take the family to see a special holiday movie at the Staerkel Planetarium. Santa’s Secret Star and Season of Light (covering many different winter holiday traditions) are on the calendar this year.
22) Paint a Pottery Gift with your little ones. Include a handprint or footprint. Make this an annual tradition to see how your kids grow.
23) Have a photo taken with Santa. Sensory-friendly Santa photos are already on this year’s list and pet-friendly photos will be added soon.
24) Walk through Prairie Farm for its inaugural holiday lights walk-through experience AND come to our “Twinkling Lights and Cocoa” event we have planned, presented by Christie Clinic.
25) See the reindeer at Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch.
26) Take your kids on a trolley or carriage ride. Check our calendar for more information.
27) Shop Local for a Christmas gift for your partner with the kiddos.
28) Dine with Santa. Breakfast or brunch – so many options!
Bonus Activities: Snow Required!
30) Make snow angels on the Quad.
31) Go sledding at Homer Lake.
32) Make a snowman in the yard. Paint him or her orange and blue.
33) Have an epic snowball fight after building a snow fort.
34) Catch a fresh snowflake on your tongue.
35) Go for a snowy walk at Meadowbrook Park.
Everything Holiday Season In and Around Champaign-Urbana
- Where to Find Santa Claus in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- 50+ Experience Gift Ideas for Kids in Champaign-Urbana
- Amazing Christmas Lights Around Champaign-Urbana and Beyond
- Live Nativity Displays in Champaign-Urbana
- Holiday Lights at the Zoo: Where to Drive From Champaign-Urbana
- How to Chop Down Your Own Christmas Tree in the Shawnee National Forest – For $5 (or Less)
- Home for the Holidays: Shopping and Eating Locally in Champaign-Urbana
- Botanical Garden at Lake of the Woods to Illuminate during Holidays for First Time
- 8+ Great Places to See Holiday Lights in Central Illinois
- All Aboard: Polar Express Fun (Beyond the Train) in Champaign-Urbana
- Champaign-Urbana Area Holiday Events and Activities
- Where to Buy a Live Christmas Tree Near Champaign-Urbana
- Christmas Parades near Champaign-Urbana
- German Christmas Market Returns to Riggs Beer Company in Urbana
- What You Need to Know About the Walk-Through Holiday Lights at Allerton Park