It's truly the most wonderful time of the year, and although winter doesn't technically start until December 21, I decided to get a head start on the whole holiday spirit thing and complete a basic winter bucket list.
Everyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love the holidays. There's nothing I don't like about the months of October, November and December. I try to do seasonal things year-round, but the last three months of every year I'm in seasonal overdrive. In October, I'm getting spooky, going to pumpkin patches, picking apples (mostly from the produce section at Ralphs, but whatever), watching "Hocus Pocus" on repeat and making scary-delicious treats. In November, I'm cooking savory, hearty dishes, giving thanks and decorating for the holidays. Yes, the holidays. As in Christmas. That way, in December, I can enjoy everything that Christmas and winter have to offer without spending a chunk of my time rushing to get everything done for the holidays.
This year, I got an extra head start on all the items on my winter bucket list. Yes, I do live in North Hollywood, California, where the weather is definitely … not winter weather, but I tried my hardest to channel my Detroit roots and put my best winter-boot-clad foot forward with all of this. Some of the things I definitely wanted to accomplish included:
Those were just a few of the items on my basic winter bucket list, and I'd like to think I succeeded in accomplishing them as best I could for living in California. Scroll through to see the other items I was able to check off my winter bucket list!
1. Buy an Ugly Christmas Sweater
First things first: I needed a new ugly Christmas sweater. The one I have from last year is in the closet of my old room at my parents' house, and I figured I should start my own little tradition of getting one every year. I found this one at Target (sponsor me, please) for $19.99 in the men's section. It's actually not that ugly, if you ask me.
2. Play Holiday Music Nonstop on My Record Player
It's hard not to get into the Christmas and winter spirit when there's holiday music playing, am I right? To be honest, I consider the She & Him Christmas album waaay more of a classic than Michael Bublé's Christmas album, but to each their own. I still get down to Michael; I just don't have his album on vinyl.
3. Decorate My Tree Two Weeks Before Thanksgiving, Obviously
I love Christmas and the holidays in general. I waited as long as I could, but the Christmas decor bug bit me pretty hard, and I had to put up my tree a couple weeks before Thanksgiving.
Not that I have to justify my reasons for putting up a tree as early as I did, but I like the ambiance, and it makes my house feel even cozier!
I also moved some of my records and books to other cubbies in my room divider and set up those holiday houses everyone's mom and grandma collects. They're adorable, and I'm really a 73-year-old trapped in a 29-year-old's body, OK?
4. Put Up Christmas Lights on My House
Last year, I skipped out on putting up lights on the outside of my house because I had just moved in and was still getting situated. This year, though, I decided to go all out (well, as much as I could; I'm one person here) and buy some old-school multicolored bulbs and string them around the front of my house and patio.
Also, I love how the lights perfectly frame the French doors and show off my beautiful multicolored Christmas tree. It's beginning to feel a lot like winter up here, especially since the temperature is dropping to a frigid 58ºF at night!
5. Bake Festive Little Appetizers
I could've gone the easy route and made Christmas cookies, but this is supposed to be a winter bucket list, not just a Christmas bucket list (although, that's basically what it turned into; I'm pretty limited in winter activities in Los Angeles).
The best thing about these appetizers is that they work for any holiday gathering and are also perfect, bite-sized morsels to snack on while cozying up in front of the fire with a good book.
To make these, I took premade pie crust, rolled it out a bit, then used a medium-sized circular cookie cutter to punch out the dough. Then I gently pressed each piece of dough into a mini muffin tin, added a 1-inch square of brie, and topped it with either cranberry sauce and chopped rosemary or apricot filling and chopped walnuts. I popped them in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees—and voilà!
6. Enjoy a Cold Night by a Warm "Fire"
I don't have room for a fire pit or even a heat lamp on my patio, nor is there really a need for one since it's cold for only a few months out of the year, and mostly just in the morning and at night.
So, naturally, I went with the next closest thing: a winter-themed lantern with a peppermint scented candle on the inside.
Hey, I'm tryin' here, OK?
7. Get My Dog Into the Holiday Spirit
My pup, Jones Pickle Copernicus, absolutely loves the holidays. He gets to see his grandma and grandpa more often, he gets extra treats (and lots of cheese, because nothing says the holidays like cheese, am I right?), and he always gets a few winter- and Christmas-themed toys that he treats like his babies.
He is also memorialized in lawn decoration form at my parents' house, which he loves posing next to. I like to think he thinks it's his "real dad," but I'll never know for sure.
8. Build a Gingerbread House
I hadn't decorated a gingerbread house in probably 20 years, so this was a bit of a struggle. But the Winter Bucket List Show™️ must go on. I think it turned out pretty good, right?
9. Spot Reindeer in the Wild
In no way, shape or form do I live anywhere near the woods, but I was able to spot some gigantic wild reindeer on my parents' neighbor's lawn. That counts, right?
10. Walk Around and Look at Christmas Lights
I was really disappointed with the lack of Christmas lights up in the neighborhood, but then I remembered, It's November and not everyone decorates for the holidays weeks before the actual month of December.
I really liked the lights around this house's door, though. It looked very grand.
11. Drink a Hot Toddy by the Fire
Yes, I know I look like the hipster version of Elf on the Shelf, but let me live my life. I don't have a real fireplace, so I forced my mom to turn on the one in her room while I made myself a hot toddy and sipped it in front of the "fire."
12. Outfit My Bar Cart With Christmas Decor
As I said, I don't have a fireplace, so outfitting my bar cart with Christmas and winter decor is the next best thing. I used command hooks to hang my stocking and Jones' stocking (how cute is his tiny little J stocking? OMG), along with my gingerbread apron and an adorable wooden sign that says "Get your jingle on."
I swapped out my Halloween and fall goblets for wine glasses featuring Santa, Mrs. Claus and reindeer dressed in winter apparel. Then I added some pine cones, birds who are all bundled up for the cold that I got—where else—at Target and a Spiced Apple Toddy candle from Bath and Body Works, and I changed the saying on my light-up sign from "Hocus Pocus" to "Santa Baby." I also filled my gigantic Mason jar with pine cones and fake red berries and added a few more random items to fill it out.
13. Play in the "Snow"
Look, this is the closest we're gonna get to having snow in LA this year. It's the biggest (rain) storm of the season, so I had to get bundled up in whatever winter attire I could find and pretend that the tiny pellets of ice-cold water attacking my face were actually light, fluffy snowflakes gently kissing my cheeks.
14. Enjoy a Glass of Wine Outside Because It's November and I Live in California
Finally, I did what every Los Angeles and Southern Calfornia resident does in the winter: drink wine outside because it's 70 degrees and sunny.
I tried my best to complete a winter bucket list, and I think I did a pretty good job, considering I don't live in a part of the world where it's winter, ever. I was still able to channel all the cold-weather energy I could, and it's safe to say I will be in the winter—and Christmas—spirit well into 2019.
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