How to Create a Family Bucket List With Your Kids
Are there adventures you’d love to experience together as a family?
Write them down so you’ll have options on hand at a moment’s notice.
In this article I’ll show you how to create a family bucket list.
First you and your kids will share dreams of places to go and things to do together. Then you’ll organize, prioritize and turn your wish list into tangible goals with a fun family project.
Why Build a Bucket List?
A bucket list consists of things you want to do in your lifetime (before you “kick the bucket”).
The expression has been expanded to include goals people want to achieve within other time frames as well: before certain birthdays or life events, before holidays or vacations come to an end, before the kids reach a certain age, etc.
The bucket list concept has been around for a while and got a boost in popularity by The Bucket List movie, but it may be new to your children. Once you explain that it’s a way to think of the fun things you’d like to do together, they’re sure to get on board right away with lots of ideas!
It’s fun and exciting to come up with goals using input from the whole family. Kids love to feel that their contributions count.
For this adventure, you’ll actually make a special bucket, then gather, create and preserve a bucketful of family memories.
The best thing about this kind of bucket list is you can renew, reuse and extend it to include new adventures as your kids grow up.
Your kids may have either very simple or very extravagant wishes to start. As they get older and you start fulfilling the wishes on your bucket list, their ideas may change.
One thing kids will learn for sure is that while some adventures have a price tag, many remarkable experiences cost little or no money. They are done for the joy of it. That’s a great lesson.
Once the idea of the bucket list takes hold, it may become the focal point of your mealtime conversations. This will put family goals and dreams front and center.
Dream big, and dream as a family. Turn events and interests into opportunities. This adventure will help you make sure your family’s dreams won’t fall through the cracks.
Here’s how to make a bucket list with your family.
#1: Create Your List
Have a conversation with your kids about what a bucket list is and things to put on it. Share examples of bucket activities, and decide if you want a theme. Is this a bucket list of things to do during the school year, over the summer or before your kids turn a certain age?
Grab your paper and pens, crayons or pencils, and encourage each family member (parents too!) to create a top-ten list of “things you would most like to do.” If you need extra inspiration, check your community paper or look online for local events.
The list can include anything: the simple (a picnic in the backyard or an afternoon at the library), some travel (a trip to a fair in another town or a drive to an area of your county you have never been before), the educational (a day at a science or art museum) or even a big dream (a cross-country drive to the ocean).
The only rules to this part of the adventure are that everyone participates and all ideas are considered. You’ll most likely hear old favorites like roller skating and bowling, but expect to be surprised by some of the listed items. Of course, parents, feel free to nudge the process along by offering suggestions.
After a reasonable amount of time, sit down as a family and take turns sharing your ideas. Read your lists and give convincing reasons for including each item.
Set a flexible limit on how many total items to put on your list, determined by how many clothespins fit around the edge of the bucket or by the number of days available. Then make a master list. Merge duplicate items and add a certain additional number from each family member.
Have too many good ideas to discard any? No problem! Make a “reserve list” for ongoing items, which you can use to fill in your bucket after you get through some of the list. This is your family’s commitment to fun and time together, and is a work in progress for years to come!
#2: Decorate the Bucket
Take your bucket or paint can (find one at any hardware or craft store), and turn it into a centerpiece. Make your bucket colorful and personal, since it’s an important part of this family activity.
Decorate it with paint, markers, stickers (which are great for younger kids) and any other craft materials.
Once the bucket is ready, use markers to write the selected activities on wooden clothespins. Perhaps color-code the clothespins for different types of activities: meals, travel, indoor fun, outdoor adventures, events, etc.
So you don’t miss out on time-sensitive events, color the tip red if the activity occurs on a certain date like a concert or museum exhibit.
Now clip the clothespins around the edge of the bucket.
Purchase passes or tickets you’ll need for the red-marked, date-sensitive events in advance. Put them in the bucket or a special envelope below it for safekeeping.
#3: Go on Adventures
Now for the easy part: Choose your first adventure.
You may want to determine a time and frequency for your adventures. One per week works well during the school year. Depending on your flexibility and the amount of planning needed, choose the day’s activities during breakfast or make it a dinner conversation the night before.
Plan ahead, so everyone knows and is ready for fun. Talk about things you’ll need for the event (food for picnics, sturdy shoes for the day you hike), and be sure to take a camera to capture the experience.
Now enjoy your adventure. Take lots of photographs and collect memorabilia as you go.
The most important thing is to have fun. Your bucket list activities will provide chances for lots of laughter and endless conversations with your kids.
#4: Bucket Check-in
Once each adventure is completed, gather around the bucket and share your favorite part of the experience. Write your memories and impressions down on index cards. Be sure to include the kids’ thoughts, too!
Write the date you completed the bucket list item on the back of the clothespin. Leave room for future dates if you repeat the activity.
Clip the description, souvenirs and printed photographs together. Then drop the finished pin into the bucket.
Now you not only have a bucket list, you have a bucket with mementos you can look at whenever you want. Watch how often your family reaches into the bucket to read through your adventures.
#5: Display Your Bucket List
Keep the bucket in a prominent place. If it’s on display, it’ll keep up excitement and encourage your family to plan the next adventure.
Keep markers and pins available, so you can add new items to the bucket list any time.
Once your bucket is filled with pins and mementos, save the contents to a dated box and start again.
Some Final Thoughts…
A family bucket list supports togetherness, organizes your plans and is a fun learning experience. These memory-making times will be filled with laughter and creativity.
When you start a family bucket list, you embark on a series of wonderful adventures.
Keep the activities in the family or invite friends and relatives; do the bucket list in your hometown or travel to exotic places. Whatever you do, do it as a family. And that’s the best part.
As your children grow, so will their dreams. Raise the bar high, so they know they—and you, as a family—can accomplish anything!
What do you think? What activities made it on your family’s bucket list? Which idea surprised you the most? Did you rush home to add new bucket list items you thought about while completing a day’s activities? Which adventure was your favorite? Share your experiences below and feel free to add a picture or two. Your bucket list ideas might just be the thing another family needs to add another item to their list. Most of all, have fun creating memories.
Maryalice M. Leister is an educator, writer and artist whose own life adventures have included 3 children, 5 grandchildren, a parade of pets, and a year-long Gratitude Walk. Other posts by Maryalice M. Leister »