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Create the perfect recipe for your holiday bucket list

“He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. Maybe Christmas, he thought... doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps...means a little bit more!” -How the Grinch Stole Christmas

We all know that the joy that’s meant to be inherent to the season can get a bit lost from time to time. We hear an endless refrain of: Frazzled. Busy. Overwhelmed. Overextended. Over-budgeted. NOT ENOUGH TIME! Could it be that the joys of the season have become yet another thing on the “To-do List”? Perhaps. But maybe, just as we have adapted the recipe for mama’s magical Sugar Cookies over the years, we simply need to tweak our “recipe” for the season itself.

With a dash here and a sprinkle there, we invite you to pick and choose your way through our ingredient lists to create the perfect recipe for your Holiday Bucket List.

The Out & About Ingredient List

  • Lights, Lights, and more Lights! – If taking in all the twinkling and sparkling lights is high on your priority list, then you’ll certainly want to start with the Billings Christmas Lights Facebook page to guide you along your way. For a one stop dazzle, see the calendar for ZooLights information. SFM reader, Holly Sebastian, also points to “Billings North Pole” as a must-see Christmas lights experience.
  • Ho! Ho! Ho! – Looking for the big guy in red? Well, there are ample opportunities around Billings for your littles (middles and bigs) to catch up with the man in charge of the Naughty and Nice List. Check the calendar for the whens and wheres!
    • Share your favorite Santa snaps with us on social media!
    • Look for this in the calendar for easy-to-spot Santa Sightings!

  • Christmas Strolls – If your aim is to get lost in that small-town kind of vibe, wrapped up in all the festive things, then the Christmas Strolls are where it’s at. You can keep things close to home with Downtown Billings’ annual Christmas Stroll, or you can take the show on the road, capturing actual small-town charm with strolls in Laurel, Red Lodge, Worden, and more! (They happen early in the month, though, so take note for next year, too!)
  • Winter Wonderland – Whether it’s taking your brood on the road to find your favorite hill, zipping along on your sled, or building a snowman or snow fort in your backyard; sometimes hitting the pause button and heading outside for some good old-fashioned fun is all it takes to hit the reset button on your holiday humdrums.
  • Unique Shopping Experience – For some, the Holiday Craft Shows and Bazaars are the places to round out your holiday shopping adventures. If you’re looking for unique specials for those on your list, then these are the places for you!
  • Magical Moments – Whether it’s Billings Depot’s Polar Express (a hot-ticket happening!), the Arctic Art and Playland in the midst of The Family Tree Center’s Festival of Trees, or HoliZOODays at ZooMontana, there are magical moments in the making for your kiddos all month long!

Look for this little tree in the calendar to pinpoint the aforementioned events.

The Outside of Ourselves Ingredient List

  • The Gift of Time – During the holiday season – and beyond – there are a plenitude of opportunities for families and individuals to give of themselves within our community. We talked extensively in the November issue about how to be the village, but just to drop a couple on you here, check into: Salvation Army’s Community Table (M-SA, 4:30-6:30pm), St. John’s Lutheran Ministries has an incredible variety of volunteer opportunities, but it’s worth noting, you could be a Wii Bowling Host. I mean, come on.
  • Center the Season – Catching a Live Nativity (at Faith E or the Open Bible Christian Center, among others) is a great way to strip away some of the crazy and re-center on the joys of the season. And if you can catch a Sunday school’s Christmas program, well…Let’s call that, cup runneth over.
  • Sounds of the Season – While there are a spectacular variety of musical opportunities that you can be a passive (if dazzled) participant in, why not take your own talents and share them amongst the community? Gather family and friends and bring caroling back in style.
  • Under the Christmas Tree – Add a little something special under someone else’s Christmas tree this holiday season. Adopt a senior through Big Sky Senior Services (and/or reach out to various senior living homes), adopt a youth/family via Family Services, Inc (teens are especially in need of attention, just FYI). Let the kids lead the shopping for Toys for Tots.  
  • Love Thy Neighbor – Have a handy snow-removing helper? Be the hero on your block and help clear the way for your neighbors.

The Nestled Snug in Our Home Ingredient List

  • Sweet Start – If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then it’s no wonder that baking days are a key ingredient to the holiday season. The holidays are generally steeped in tradition, but this most tasty tradition has the potential to be the center to some of the greatest memories made. I personally recommend going beyond just you and the kids in the kitchen and make it a full-on family and friends baking extravaganza. Odds are it will only happen when the kids are littles, so soak it up, mamas.
    • Pop by SFM’s blog throughout the month for a roundup of some of our favorite recipes.

  • Movie Marathon – Whether you literally hold yourselves a movie marathon over the course of one weekend - or every weekend in December – be sure to add some oldies but goodies into the rotation. It goes without saying, but maximize the snuggles, blankies, cocoa, and sweet treats. And if you straight up need an escape, three words: Hallmark Christmas Movies.
  • Lost in Literature – So many magical holiday books to get lost in throughout the season, you could absolutely hop on board the “25 Books of Christmas” trend, you could also just plan to add one to your collection each year or use the library to your advantage. One of our personal favorites? Santa is Coming to Montana. Of course, it doesn’t have to be all about the kids, Debbie Macomber has a plethora of Christmas books for you to decompress the stress away.