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Summer Dreams: 4 Ways to Make a Summer Bucket List

Technically, I’m not a list girl. I make grocery lists and lose them, type Christmas lists and veer away from them and write to-do lists only to leave most of the tasks undone. But there’s something motivating about writing the list itself. It’s an exhale, a first step and, in the case of gratitude lists and bucket lists, an extremely satisfying creative exercise. Every year before Thanksgiving, I make a list of what we need for dinner. That one usually actually makes it to the grocery store, but more than anything, writing the list–usually with coffee in hand and a pile of cookbooks near me–serves to stir up holiday excitement–a prequel to the sensory experience of tasting gravy, peeling apples and clinking wine glasses.

Summer bucket lists are the same for us. It’s less about pressure to do the things we put on the list and more about marrying my kids’ enthusiasm for fun and family and adventure with my own childhood memories. And it’s a great way to put all our ideas in one place. I’m notorious for throwing out the names of movies I want to see, but when we actually sit down and Brett says “pick a movie,” I can’t think of anything to watch. Summer adventures are the same way. Write them all down early at the beginning of the summer so you don’t have to scramble for ideas later.

Here are four different ways to make a summer bucket list this year:

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Scrapbook Summer Bucket List

Using any old scrapbook or even a homemade one hole-punched and tied with yarn, space your summer bucket list items out with room for a photo above them. This gives your family an extra fun challenge of documenting your memories throughout the summer. As you fulfill your bucket list items, take pictures of your adventures, print them and tape into place in your scrapbook. Instant film cameras (we have this Fujifilm Instax camera) make this list much easier to complete. Or you can send your photos to print and ship straight from your phone with many different companies’ print apps. We’ve used Social Print Studio which prints tiny squares and ships incredibly quick.

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Keep It Simple

If summer bucket lists overwhelm you or if you’re working a lot through the summer, keep it simple by making a small doable list one week at a time and display it somewhere your family can see it–the kitchen counter or dinner table. Your list doesn’t have to include “whittle birch branches into medieval swords and host a neighborhood castle party” to make it a good bucket list. Think small and meaningful–a family moon walk, microwave s’mores, eat breakfast for dinner. When I want to feel super productive, sometimes I put everyday things on lists just so I can cross them out: Take a shower. Drink coffee. CHECK! CHECK! Look at me, gettin’ ‘er done. Kids love visual reminders and crossing things off too. So go ahead, put “read two books before bed” and “paint nails a pretty summery pink” on that weekly list even if you were already planning on doing them.

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Grab Bag Bucket

This is a great way to inject a little mystery into the game–you never know what you’re going to pull out. At the beginning of the summer, have your kids help you write bucket list items down on slips of paper, fold them up and throw them into an actual bucket.

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Take turns throughout the week–after dinner, on a rainy afternoon, on a wide open Saturday–pulling slips out, reading them aloud and fulfilling them together.

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Scout’s Vest

This is how we’re fulfilling our Michigan summer bucket list this year, and we can’t wait. Here’s the thing. We tried Girl Scouts last year, but we missed so many meetings and couldn’t keep up with everything else going on. We loved the meetings we did have but, you know….life. The vest though. We never got the damn vest. We are going to reclaim it, summer style. I thought of this early this year and started collecting iron-on patches, going on mad searches for rare ones, anything that fit our summer plans–and I found them! I found tiny s’mores patches and lighthouse patches, a doughnut for our breakfast-on-the-pontoon-boat dreams and even a Mackinac Island one. I’m sure you can easily make a sash with a strip of fabric, or they have inexpensive ones here.

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As we knock off our bucket list items, we’ll iron on corresponding patches, and the kids will get to wear their summer scout sashes and have a wonderful memento from our road trip.

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We found most of our patches on Amazon including movie night, catching a fish, doughnut breakfast, flying kites, kayaking, corn on the cob, and campfire.

Would I be a big dork if I made one too? They don’t have my size.

While we wait for summer, we have desks to clean out, classroom parties to plan and a few more lunches to make. I’m so excited for not having to pack lunches soon!

Woman Crush Wednesday will return next week.

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Leave a Comment
  1. YOU are my woman crush Wednesday! Everything from trying scouts to dropping out (is there a patch for that? scout dropout?) to adding items to a list I know I will complete (breathe, eat, sleep) simply to feel I’ve accomplished SOMETHING- made me adore you even more lol

    My heavens this is such a great idea, well all of them, that I’m planning on tweaking for our own family. This is probably one of my fave posts.

    Happy long weekend!

  2. You could iron on patches onto a jean vest or jacket? A poodle skirt…a pair of jeans… Love your idea though! So clever!

  3. I’m 29 but could you please be my mom? You make your beautiful children’s lives so wonderful and fun, they are blessed to have an incredible mother like you. I love how the little things in life bring you a lot of joy! Keep being your awesome self Kelle!

    Much love :)

  4. This post really resonating with me because as a child I used to spend two weeks every summer at my grandmothers house and we would always do special things like this. Things that were simple but when you’re 8 a really big deal. We’d get ice cream cones at Hardee’s, learn to sew a dolls dress, bake a cake, eat 3 veggies and 2 fruits a day, have a TV dinner and watch wheel of fortune. Way to go for creating memories for your kids and encouraging others to do the same.

  5. This list is adorable, especially the scouting badges. The slips of paper in the bucket though….I just can’t. I’ve got a story for you.

    When my kids were little, I made an advent calendar for the month of December with all the joful, festive things we were going to do printed on slips of paper and tucked into the pockets. About a week in I realized this was a mistake. My kids would wake up and run to the calendar, pull out the paper for that day, declare that we were baking cookies for the neighbors and I’d find we had no butter. Or eggs. Or sugar. I’m not a natural list maker either, and apparently planning ahead is not my greatest strength. So, I started sneaking a peak at the next day’s pocket after they went to bed and if I didn’t have the stuff I needed on hand for the activity, I’d just switch it with another pocket later in the month. Genius right? Until it was the week before Christmas and all of the craft-intensive projects were still sitting in that calendar, family was arriving in town and I still had gifts to wrap. You better believe I pulled all those papers out and wrote new, easy ones, like “Read The Night Before Christmas” and “Eat cookies for breakfast” (double bonus on that one…got rid of the cookies from the cookie exchange AND didn’t have to make breakfast).

    So, that bucket for the bucket list is adorable, but the spontaneity of that situation is apparently too much for this mama! Great post!

    • Laughing. I can so relate. I used to shoot for the big things. With three kids those advent slips are more like “Go outside and look at the moon. Is it there? Awesome. Good job. Now go to bed.” or “Say I love you to the person next to you. Fantastic. Christmas is six days. Better hit the hay.”

  6. You could get a sash for Girl Scout Ambassadors. Those are girls who have hit college age. It’s a tie on sash so it should fit any size. As the mom of a Girl Scout Cadette and a Troop Leader, I think this is an awesome idea. :)

  7. Kristin says:

    Totally doing the scrapbook! Thanks for the idea!

  8. I LOVE this! We are taking a big trip to MT this summer and the badges would be awesome! We already do this…sorta. We collect patches from places we go and sew them onto canvas bags…each kid has one. But we could make the bags into our travel bags and attach badges for all the stuff we do in Montana! I’m sure I could find a Glacier Park badge somewhere. THanks for the great idea!!

    • I love the idea of putting them on canvas bags! You’ve got me thinking! How adorable must those bags look when they’re done!

  9. Nichcole says:

    Where did you get the s’mores patch? Love this idea!!!

  10. your blog really makes me wanna have kids! :) I cannot tell you how many of your ideas are saved on Pinterest walls and in colourful notebooks just waiting for me to get pregnant 😀

  11. Adrienne Wilson says:

    I LOVE this idea!!! I have three daughters ages 6 1/2-10years old & they would have so much fun with this! Last summer was not a great summer for us (for many reasons…) & I am trying to make this summer totally fun & carefree. I wonder if I could make something similar with clip art…like a summer banner, passport or memory book! It would be a little cheaper than buying three patches for each activity since I have three daughters. Thank you so much for sharing Kelle!! 😉

  12. Susie B says:

    Your ideas are really cute. I love to collect badges also, and as I’m a Girl Scout leader, I don’t have a vest or sash, so I sew them to my canvas tote bag. (By the way, ironing patches on, or hot gluing them will not keep them on a sash or a tote bag; they will fall off and get lost– the only sure way to secure them is to just make a few stitches with needle and thread to tack them down– I know this from LOTS of experience!) Also, the Girl Scout leader in me has to make a plug for scout troops. I absolutely love being with my girls and seeing my daughter and her friends have tons of new experiences and learn new skills. It is such a confidence builder for young girls. When they try new things, we always tell them, “Girl Scouts is a safe place to fail”. But they never fail, because they have tried it. And when they do things with their peers, its never a waste of time, no matter what the outcome is. Most troops welcome girls no matter how often they are able to come to meetings and activities; our troop just loves to see our scouts any time we can get them. Finally, (and sorry for such a long post) Girl Scouts is one of the most inexpensive activities girls can do. The membership fee is only $15 per year!

  13. Elaine Hurley says:

    Summer is my absolute favourite time on your blog Kelle. You always have the most beautiful ideas and your posts are so atmospheric. Going to make a bucket list this year for the first time. Thanks for all the ideas…loving the simple ones as life can get a bit hectic here with a 4,3 and 1 year old. I’m hoping we get nice summer weather here in Ireland this year. It’s always unpredictable. Thanks again for the inspiration!

  14. I love the scrapbook idea!!! Totally doing this with me 3 kiddos.

  15. Christine says:

    Is there a place I can go to actually FIND ideas of things to do? Sometimes my creativity isn’t the best. THANKS!

    • If you search “summer bucket list” on Pinterest, you’ll find tons of lists and some great ideas. I’ve pulled several things from other people’s lists and added them to ours.

  16. My daughter and I have been doing a version of this for a few years. I made her a quilt (yeah, probably the only one ever!) with blue squares along with some prints. We collect patches on vacations/trips and I sew them onto the quilt in the blue squares. The whole thing is so fun … although sometimes the sewing gets a little annoying … just to warn you!! the quilt is a treasure to both of us … and hopefully will be for years and generations to come!

  17. Love this love this love this! Yay for you two, for taking the chcane on each other and what a wonderful outcome it is!The boob-grab story = priceless!!! Made me remember back to college when my best friend got a new tattoo, she’d intended to get one on her shoulder, fell in love with a giant one across her hips, forgetting that she had a toddler and partner in Alaska on a guiding job. So, ummmm, can you come hold my baby and rub creme on my ass? Because, well, friends!And damn the floor! Build those immunities! My grandboy actually licks the bottom of his shoes while in his carseat, and has licked my headlight covers in the rain. GROSS!!! He almost never gets sick. Like, once in the last 2 years. And he’s 4. Very well developed immune system. You should see my floor. And you know what? I would let you!!Ya’ll keep having a beautiful time! What a wonderful wonderful gift you have given yourselves and your girls. And I’m totally with you on the social media thing. It all depends on how you use it. Reconnecting with old friends that I would never have found again without it, hell, I found my oldest son, whose dad vanished with him at age 7, 3 years ago at age 21 via Myspace. This shit rocks!!! Do you ever wonder, though, what the technology will be when, say, Margot is 16? Yowza!!Okay novel at a close.Love and hugs.

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