The holidays can be relaxing, but many of us just don’t feel right about spending so much time without accomplishing anything. If you are looking for activities to make you feel like you accomplished something, you’ve come to the right place.
We’re going to look at tons of productive things you can do over the holidays!
We’ve broken down our humongous list into several subsections, and there’s a little something for everyone here. Whether you are a crafty person, an exhausted parent, or a small business owner who simply can’t imagine sitting still for a single day, you will find inspiration here:
- Crafter’s Paradise
- Home Business Buffing
- Parent’s Corner
- “Home” Remedies
- Get a Jump on Life
- Doing Nearly Nothing (a List for Everyone)
- Pet-lovers on Parade
There’s something for everyone, even in sections that may not seem to be a perfect fit for you, so let’s get started!
Do you have a thousand crafting supplies or closets bursting with “someday” projects? The holidays are a perfect time to get to doing what you’ve been planning for, well, a long time. Or is your garage full to bursting with “I’ll get to it, eventually” things to do?
We collected some fabulous inspiration from other crafters and creatives to help you narrow down your project possibilities so you can get started. Also, you can complete most of these in a decently short amount of time, so you can feel you accomplished something for real.
Make Your Own Wrapping Paper
There are so many ways to do it! Making your wrapping paper isn’t just fun; it’s creative and can help you use up some of those random supplies you have lying around. Not only that, though.
Making personalized wrapping paper for gifts gives them a boutique feel, as well as showing the intended recipient how much time you are willing to spend on them. You don’t have to be super-artistic, just dedicated to making it happen with the time to pull it off.
This video has a few great ideas, using paint pens, markers, newspapers, paper bags, and regular printer paper.
Upcycling That Box of Stuff Sitting in Your Closet
Ready to make some gifts, or just hack your junk to make your life easier? That junk you are sure you’re going to do something with, someday, doesn’t have to wait any longer. You have time, and want to do something, so why not dig in and get started?
Anything, from old picture frames to plastic bottles are fair game. Something as simple as a coat of spray paint can take any decor and change it completely. If you sew, you could transform old clothes, turning them into cute baby clothes, or a new look for you.
If you need the inspiration to choose the perfect project for this holiday season, we’ve included a video below with a few projects.
Tie Some Knots
Are you eyeing that yarn in the crafting stuff? What better time than now to try that new “Baby Yoda” pattern? Ok, well, if you aren’t fast enough to complete one of these over the holidays, no worries!
Whether your process of choice is knitting, crochet, macrame, or even needlepoint, there’s no better time than now. Hooking or knitting a quick homemade hot pad or scarf is a fast, easy, and fun activity.
It can be even quicker if you use a loom-knitter to speed up your projects.
Speaking of a loom knitter, that’s a project that’s easy enough to do in an afternoon, with kids, or a friend over a glass or two of wine.
Turn Last Year’s Cards into This Year’s Project
There are so many great projects to do with that collection of old cards you have. It’d be a shame to miss out on this project. You can turn them into gift tags, small boxes, and many other cool creations. Best of all, then they are just sitting in a box or being thrown away.
There were so many ideas of what to do with these cards that we found one video with 12 different projects to inspire you.
Organize Your Crafting Supplies
Not really in the mood or don’t have the time to get through a real project?
How about going through that mountain of supplies and deciding what it’s time to part with? You know there are dried up markers, uselessly small pieces of fabric, and at least a few things that you thought you’d be interested in, but just weren’t.
Crafty people tend to collect a ton of odds and ends and cram them all into their creative space. If that sounds like you, lightening the load, and making it so you can tell where everything is will make you feel accomplished.
Home Business Buffing
As an entrepreneur, you are busy. Not just now, but all the time. If it’s not spending time hustling for good clients, it’s working through complicated scheduling or trying to get a leg up on the next deadline. However, it’s the holidays, and you need to think about you, too!
Here’s a list of things that are productive and will help you hit the ground running after the season is over.
Get a Jump on Tax Paperwork
Have you been keeping all your paperwork, receipts, and invoices correctly filed and your records up to date? If you have, great job! Many of us, though, are just a bit behind.
Even if you have, the job you are about to face is going to be time-consuming. You already know, tax time comes for us all.
Take an afternoon to get a jump on that work so that when the time comes, you are that much closer to finishing the task the moment you start. This is a great time also to locate any leads that may have been shuffled under other papers on your desk and send them a nice note.
Send Handwritten or Self-Designed Holiday Cards to Clients
The handwritten touch is one that larger businesses can’t have without paying someone to do it. However, it’s the holidays, and you have a little extra time, which you want to use well. Take a few hours and hand-address some envelopes, write some letters, or design a custom card for your clients.
They will love the personal touch, and you will feel great knowing you did something that helped your business and used your down-time well. You can even hand write your address on envelopes for future use.
If handwriting isn’t your scene, create a newsletter for your customers, making them feel like family. Whatever it is you do, make sure that it’s done well, and takes your particular client base’s feelings and beliefs into account.
Google Yourself and Your Business
Googling your name and your business name can help you to see where you are in the search engine world. You may find some things out there that you want to correct, like search pages that have your business name, but bad contact information.
This will also give you the opportunity to check out any feedback on yourself or your business that may be damaging, or praises you hadn’t seen yet.
Googling yourself can be a rabbit hole, a project you start, and it seems to suck you away from everything else for a long time. However, since you’re already on your holiday vacation, that will be time well spent.
Schedule Time for This Important Thing
Remember, productivity requires down-time, too. In fact, you need to waste some time to really get to your full potential. Block some time off during the holiday that is 100 percent not about your entrepreneurial self.
Take a nap, sleep in past 7:30, or simply stare out your window. Find something you love, but can’t do when you are hustling, and do it.
Whether that be as simple as snowball fights with your kids, spending an entire day binging the Harry Potter series, or actually handwriting your parent or best friend a letter.
Whatever you do over the holiday season, make sure that you take a little time for yourself, and your family, not just your business. Dedicate yourself to spending the time you schedule for this 100 percent “in the moment,” it will pay dividends in mental health benefits for you later.
Parents have unique challenges in life. From trying to figure out what substance is on the bathroom wall, to supporting kids through cyberbullying, you’re busy and probably tired. The holiday season isn’t always as relaxing as we’d hoped, either.
Ok, that’s less than honest, it can be super stressful. Parenting, mixed with holidays and often cabin-fever from being stuck inside with kids who have too much energy, is tough. However, if you find great activities, you can create a win-win situation for you and your offspring.
Here are some great ideas for productive things to do over the holidays when you have kids.
Make Heirloom Decorations
Think about those great decorations that kids make in preschool, and even grade school, every holiday? They have a school picture and are usually made of construction paper and Popsicle sticks.
They are treasured possessions, especially when your rug rats become young adults.
Right now is a perfect time to freeze your family in time to create holiday memories for years to come. You can do the standard handprints. Or decorate picture frames for your family members and gift them to your loved ones.
We suggest making the next suggestion every year.
Take a candid photo, and create a fun frame for it that can be packed away with your decorations and used to create a “memory garland” to hang on your wall each season. You can make it from colorful yarn or twine, or buy a craft chain and use hooks to attach new photos each year.
Here’s a great video that shows a twist on the memory garland:
Teach Responsible Generosity
Go through your kids’ rooms with them, and teach them how to remove clutter with a side-dish of giving. This project can be fun, especially with preschool kids. Simply grab three boxes, and label them “keep,” “trash,” and “donate” and go on an adventure in generosity with your child.
Using the three box method, help them sort things out that they don’t use any more. If the item is gently used, then someone else may benefit from having it. If it’s already given its best life to your youngster, the trash is a good home. The last step is the best, though.
Go to your local homeless shelter, food kitchen, or even Goodwill, and have your child donate it. It’s great to have a lesson that pays it forward, not to mention a cleaner room.
Not Above Bribery
Use extra screen time as a trade to finally get that bathroom sparkling, or in trade for any appropriate tasks, which you really want to get done. There are some parents that will never resort to bribing their kids but consider this:
Bribery has its place in parenting, much like learning to offer your employees great incentives to get them engaged does in business. If it’s good enough for Microsoft, it’s good enough for me.
It’s their time off too, so a few extra hours of video games over the vacation isn’t going to hurt anything in the long run. That said, getting one extra thing accomplished off of your “todo” will help you. Choose wisely and spend that time well, and you may just find yourself winning.
Bake With The Kids
Christmas cookies, hot pies, gingersnaps, or even fresh-baked bread are great projects to do with your kids. If you’re not great at baking, you can buy premade dough and decorating supplies to give the whole experience without the guesswork. Your kids will love the project and the goodies they make.
Baking and decorating can be a great time, especially if you can leave the phone on your counter for everything but taking pictures. Leave posting them until after you can tell people how delicious the kids baked goods were, to really be in the moment with them.
We have so many demands on our time, sometimes things at home slip a bit. Even when they don’t, there’s always a project demanding attention we don’t have. Below you’ll find great things to do around the house that will give you that “productive” feeling you want.
Deep Clean Your House Before Decorating
If cleaning is where you find your zen, why wait for spring? As you prepare to pull out the decorations, take the time to deep clean the rooms you are about to decorate. Your entire holiday will be even more relaxing, looking at the perfection you have created.
In the kitchen, pull out the stove and refrigerator if you can, and clean the sides of counters and appliances. The back of your microwave, under the kitchen sink, and behind every garbage can don’t always get the same attention as your counters, so hit them with some elbow grease.
Get rid of it, if it doesn’t make your soul happy. Go to each room and find things that you don’t want, or haven’t used for over a year, and post them on an app like Let Go, or simply donate them. Every closet, bathroom, and even your kitchen has stuff in it that you probably don’t need.
As you move through the house, concentrate on things that are gathering dust, but aren’t making you smile. That’s a good way to tell that you probably won’t miss it when it’s gone.
The act of purging what doesn’t serve you anymore is cathartic, kind of like primal screaming where no one can hear you (but it doesn’t hurt your throat so much). Once you have a box or two, if you are going to donate, put it in the front seat of your car and go donate it.
That way, it won’t be staring at you from the corner of your room after the holidays are over.
Finally Fix That Leaky Faucet (Or Call Your Landlord)
If you have a couple of days off, this is finally the best time to replace the bathroom faucet. Well, any of the projects you’ve been putting off, really. If you are a homeowner there is no end to them, but also for renters. Isn’t it about time to call the landlord about that annoying drip?
Whether it’s finally replacing the bathroom towel rack, or spraying WD40 on that squeaky porch screen door, you’ve got the time to handle it. Most of us have a list of small things that make our daily lives just a little bit annoying, target those quick fixes to feel like you’ve done a lot in a short amount of time.
Rearrange Your Most-Used Room
Something as simple as changing the way you have your furniture and decorations can make your entire house feel refreshed. You can use an app to help you decide where things will go, or you can just move things around until they feel right.
Either way, you are going to love how it feels when you’re done.
If you are having trouble getting started, or have no idea what you want to accomplish, there’s tons of advice out there to get you rolling. The best advice is to look for “pain points” in your room, areas it’s hard to navigate or spots you just can’t see the TV from, and solve them.
Get a Jump On Life
Do you love to cook, or simply hate it after a long day? Either way, eating is one of those things that we have to do regardless of how we feel about cooking or cleaning up after it.
While you have this extra time, there is less pressure on you to complete a billion tasks and put a great meal in front of everyone. There are ways to make this holiday time do double duty for you, and quite a few of them are in your kitchen.
Meal Prep for Post Holiday Recovery
Holidays can be just as stressful as any week at work. Just like a vacation, we often feel like we need another one just to recuperate from our “fun time.” Because you have extra time right now, cooking a few large meals in one day is totally doable. That makes the next part even simpler.
You can package that food in small containers to make your week after and your return to work easier. It’s a great use of time. Use freezer bags to hold full meals for your family, or baking dishes set up to pop in the oven sealed with a vacuum bag, to handle full-family feedings.
You can also package lunches, snacks, and even breakfasts so that you don’t have to think about cooking for a few days after you are done “relaxing.” If that food’s healthy, you have even multi-tasked with the next item on the list.
Jump-start Your New Year’s Resolution
Call the gym, and buy that membership now, or spend 15 minutes a day using the exercise equipment you already have. You can walk, find a video for pilates or yoga, anything that strikes your fancy. The important part is that you can use this time to start building a good habit.
While there is scientific evidence that says it takes 18 days to form a habit, having a week to begin to integrate, it gives you a jump on that time frame.
Besides, if you want to change your diet, often, that means cutting out addictive substances like sugar or caffeine. Those things can make your workdays very difficult to get through, so it’s better to start them while you have the time to do so away from coworkers.
Doing Nearly Nothing for a Very Good Reason!
Doing nothing is good for your health. If you are a driven personality type, especially with our modern society’s productivity addiction, doing nothing can make you feel anxious at first. If you need to do things that fall into the “nearly nothing” category, we have a list for that, too.
- Pet your dog (or cat)
- Take a walk
- Watch the snow (or rain) fall
- Bullet journaling
- Staring at clouds
- Reading a good book
- Taking a bath
- Nothing, just nothing at all
Pet-lovers on Parade!
If you have animals in your life, your holidays are likely to revolve around them in some way. Here are ways to make yourself feel great while doing things for your best buddies.
Make Home-made Dog or Cat Treats
Most dogs love dried sweet potato chews, which can be pretty expensive in the store. However, they are super simple to make at home. Why not experiment with some recipes and discover your fur-baby’s favorite homemade snack?
There’s been too many recalls in the news to not be concerned about the source of your best friend’s treats, so this project buys you peace of mind at a really low price.
Remember, never use onion, raisins or grapes, or chocolate in your dog treats, or these other toxic to dogs ingredients. Cats have their own list of food that you should never feed them, also.
Set Up Photo Shoots
Pets never stay with us long enough, unless you have the rare species that outlive us like some tortoises and this Koi, who lived over 200 years. So, this holiday season, pull out your camera (or recording device) and props and create some forever memories.
You do not have to limit these photos to holiday card covers, at all. Do you have a cute costume you bought for your dog? Does your cat go ga-ga for catnip? Do you want a family picture with your bearded dragon and guinea pigs? This is the perfect time for it.
Make a New Home Upgrade
Whether your loved little friend is a cat, dog, or fish, their home space could use some new additions. Whatever pet you have, there’s something you can do.
You can recreate the play area for a ferret, with new brain-teasing toys, or buy a few new panels to add to your guinea pig’s playpen. If you have a fish tank, redecorate to give them a whole new world.
If you have too many toys already, you can help your pet stay interested by packing some away for a while. Spend some time sorting out toys, so that you can regularly trade out toys that have become boring for ones that seem new and more fun.
Final Thoughts on Holiday Productivity
There you have it, an entire list of great things to spend your time on during the holiday season. Remember, being busy at all times is not necessary, so always schedule a time for doing nothing, also. If you need to hear it again, it’s ok to do nothing sometimes, and it’s actually healthy for you to do so.
Remember, getting outside even in cold weather is a good idea, too. So if you have the ability and mobility to get outside, that’s another great place to spend some of this extra time you suddenly have over the holidays.
Whatever activity you’ve chosen, you will feel like you’ve actually gotten something accomplished at the end of it. Now, that’s a productive holiday!