If you follow me on instagram you might have seen me share a post about how I feel like I am struggling to find the joy and that a large part of that feeling is due to not feeling like I have something to look forward to. We had big travel plans for this year and next year which feel like they’ve been put on pause with no clear “un-pause” date. And part of this has led to me feeling like “so what?” about these upcoming holidays. We were supposed to be spending a month in Indonesia – and now…? A lot of you seem to resonate with how I am feeling which is really encouraging. My stop gap solution is to create a list of things I’d like to do this holiday to spark a little joy! From this I have created my own “Finding Joy” Festive Season Bucket List.

You’re so welcome to borrow some ideas from my Festive Season Bucket List – but I would seriously recommend having a think by yourself, or with your partner, family, friends or children what you really really want to do this holiday and then make an effort to tick it off and find the joy! I have tried to keep my ideas budget friendly and accessible. We’re not looking to spend a lot of money these holidays as we’re still hoping big travels in 2021 might be possible and saving for those dreams is motivating too.

Lots of people suggested a little local getaway for the Festive Season Bucket List and I would 100% recommend that to anyone and everyone. Our country is so wonderful and there is so much to explore in our backyard. But for us, that is just not on the agenda for December so you won’t be seeing it on this list! I want this to feel like a list of things that are achievable and that I can wake up in the morning and say LET’S DO THIS!

If you’d like some local getaway ideas – I have created these local travel guides that I am really proud of. So far I have one for McGregor and one for Paternoster. I am hoping to create more soon – as they’re always so well received but DAMN do they take a lot of work.

I created my first summer bucket list in 2018 so have a look here if you need even more ideas and inspiration!

The “Finding Joy” Festive Season Bucket List

1. Go on a tropical holiday to Jono’s mom’s house

Jono’s mom lives aaabout seven minutes away from us BUT she has a swimming pool and a garden and outdoor furniture. We have zero outside space which can be a little depressing. SO I have asked if we can camped out for the day – pack books, blankets, sunblock, big hats and spend the day lazing around (under very large umbrellas) eating toasted cheese for lunch and drinking wine. This sounds so relaxing – and best of all – pretty cheap!

2. Read a new cookbook from cover to cover

I have a secret stash of cookbooks I have bought over the year. It is actually a little embarrassing but when I feel sorry for myself because I have been working too hard – I buy myself cookbooks! I want to grab one of these beautiful books and slowly slowly read it all – read every recipe and dream of meals to come. Maybe that is nerdy but wow I love a cook book!

3. Bake a cake

I am not a great baker but I do have hopefully baking aspirations and there are a couple of things I have mastered over the years. I make a mean chocolate buttermilk cake, batch of brownies (50/50 strike rate here), chocolate stout cake and a plum torte situation. But I have had plenty of baking flops – plenty. It is embarrassing. I am hoping there’s some magic in the Festive Season Bucket List to send a baking fairy my way. Next on my – I would love to make this list – is this Tres Leche’s cake by “Yoga of Cooking”. Have you ever seen a more beautiful cake? No.

4. Make that Japanese cold soba noodle dish

I listened to a podcast by Samin Nostrat (author of one of my favourite cook books – Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat) where she and her co-host answer cooking questions sent in by listeners. It is called Home Cooking and is so wonderful! Listeners were asking for cooking ideas for those hot summer months and she recommended making up a bunch of soba noodles and then mixing them with an Asian dressing of sorts and other fresh crunchy ingredients. And ever since I listened to that I think about cold soba noodles all the time.

I also bought a Japanese cook book that has amazing cold noodle salads – one of which I made and shared on my instastories a little while ago. And that salad WAS amazing and now I think about cold soba noodles even more because I have proof it is so delicious! I’d like to make more of these cold noodle salads in my beautiful Japanese cookbook and pack them in a lunch box to take on my glamorous tropical holiday to Jono’s mom.

5. Round two of our Christmas Eve tradition

Jono doesn’t exactly have the “Christmas cheer”. That’s not to say he’s the Christmas grinch – but he could definitely go for a round of beers with that fella. But last year, our first Christmas together in the same country in three years, I wanted to start a little tradition just for us. It’s kind of silly but fills me with so much joy to be starting new traditions with my own family.

Our Christmas tradition is to make mac and cheese for dinner on Christmas Eve and eat it on the couch with a Christmas movie. I sort out the mac and cheese and Jono sorts out the Christmas movie. Last year we watched Klaus on Netflix and it was brilliant! I would highly recommend it for grown ups and smalls alike.

(Last year I made this instant pot mac and cheese and it was delicious. We’re trying a new one this year but this is a tried and tested goodie if you need a recipe.)

6. Live my best Jo Malone life

We all know I am living my dreams with the Jo Malone advent calendar (that was a gift – please all stop asking me what it costs!!). And I am so loving all the gorgeous scents. I am going to light my ridiculously luxurious candles and layer all the perfumes to my heart’s content.

7. Have fresh flowers in the house over the holiday

Having flowers at home brings me so much joy! And really brightens up our apartment. I love to buy flowers from the flower sellers downstairs at the Constantia Emporium. R50 for one bright bunch of flowers goes a surprisingly long way!

8. Cook with my mom

My mom and I do mammoth cooking days where we start in the morning and leave in the evening with 16 servings of soups, six chicken pot pies, eight melanzanes, 14 tiny chocolate pots and tired feet. I really love spending the day being busy and cooking in my mom’s kitchen. And our freezers’ certainly look better for it!

9. Have lunch at Dahlia on Regent

I have been wanting to visit this restaurant for the LONGEST time! This is probably in line with my cold soba noodle obsession! Dahlia on Regent is creating some incredible Asian street food and their photos on instagram are kiiilling me. I specifically want to try their biang biang noodles which are reaching legendary status. I also wouldn’t say no to their crunchy fried chicken sandos or chicken wings.

10. Decorate our little art ledge to give our home a Christmas’sy feeling

We definitely 100% do not have space for a Christmas tree in our flat. Trust me, I have already asked. BUT we’re popping up an art ledge over the TV. And I have bought beautiful personalised Christmas baubles from Woollies and I will be making some sort of dangling off the art ledge Christmas moment. Just roll with me here!

11. Go for dumplings with Chloe

I love dumplings. I love my friend Chloe. Chloe is of the opinion she could be a professional eater of dumplings. I like to pretend this too and we eat many many dumplings, cucumber salad and spring onion pancakes. So good. And just JOY filled!

12. Drink rosé in a paddle pool on B’s balcony

This is a super specific one but the heading was getting really long! B’s balcony + paddle pool + rosé + our plus ones bringing us snacks of braai’ed chicken wings and chilli poppers. I just want to wallow, drink wine, talk nonsense and eat amazing snacks with my best friend. Honestly, it doesn’t get better. Well… maybe if we were in a real pool in the Bahamas – but HEY! We’re working with what we’ve got.

13. Jump in the ocean somewhere!

Someone shared an idea on my instagram post that they wanted to swim somewhere new this festive season. And I loved this idea! There’s a great post on a few lesser known beaches in Cape Town. I am not a beach person really – because sand and heat BUT I do like the idea of visiting somewhere quieter for an icy ocean swim.

14. Walk in the Tokai forest

This is one of my favourite places in the world. Whatever day or week I’m having, a lap around the Tokai forest has a real knack of lifting my experiences. I’m hoping we can have a few strolls around the forest this summer break.

15. Fresh salads at The Backyard Cafe

We had the most wonderful lunch at The Backyard Cafe during the last December holiday. It’s a beautiful restaurant hidden at the back of a furniture shop. The food is super fresh and made from scratch – we had the most incredible salads. Maybe it’s weird that I want to eat salads on holiday but THAT’S how good they were!

16. See the Christmas lights in Bergvliet

You know in the movies when families go all out for Christmas with all the lights and decorations? I thought that was purely something in the movies. But oh no, it’s happening in Bergvliet! Jono took me a few years back and I just couldn’t believe it! It was truly magical driving around seeing all the lights.

I hope you enjoyed my Festive Season Bucket List and I hope it inspires you to create your own.

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