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.
If you are on Pinterest, you’ve seen those “Holiday Bucket List” pins. They are a list of fun activities to see, do, or complete with your kids during the holiday season. You could think of them as a laundry list of more things you need to fit in during the holiday season, or like us, you can pick and choose from the events listed to add more local fun to your celebrations and, ideally, less stress.
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. 1-4. 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, like Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966), or watch a holiday TV show. Extra points awarded if it is one you watched as a child.
3) Go ice skating at the U of I ice skating rink, or any of the other rinks near Champaign-Urbana for ice skating and any number of places to watch a hockey game.
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.
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.
8) Throw a Polar Express Party. Not really your idea of fun? Take your little one to watch the trains around Champaign-Urbana instead.
9) Go caroling in your neighborhood. If that isn’t your thing, attend a local Christmas music sing-a-long or holiday concert.
10) Walk in a Winter Wonderland: Go on a winter hike at a Champaign County Forest Preserve and don’t miss Night Lights in the Garden at the Lake of the Woods Botanical Garden!
11) Take your little ones to a kid-friendly shop so they can do their own shopping. Crisis Nursery has one of our favorites, returning this year in a NEW space!
12) Take the family to see a live Nativity scene; 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. 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) Wander through the traditional German Christmas Market at Riggs in Urbana.
19) Watch a Christmas parade, like Champaign-Urbana’s very own Parade of Lights. 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.
21) Head to Flesor’s Candy Kitchen in Tuscola for some Central Illinois candy or a soda fountain treat.
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 and pet photos are already on this year’s list.
24) Walk through Prairie Farm for a 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 gift for your partner with the kiddos.
28) Dine with Santa. Breakfast or brunch – so many options!
29) Make your favorite Christmas cookies. The official Christmas cookie of chambanamoms.com: the chocolate crinkle.
Bonus Activities: Snow Required!
30) Make snow angels on the Quad.
31) Go sledding at Homer Lake, or one of the many other hills nearby.
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.
Looking for more? Subscribe to our Home for the Holidays Newsletter. Want more ideas for holiday (or everyday) fun? Check out our Events Calendar.
Everything Holiday Season In and Around Champaign-Urbana
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- Champaign-Urbana Area Holiday Events and Activities
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