How Has COVID-19 Changed Your 2020 Bucket List?

By: Jen Shoop

Earlier this year, a reader asked after my fall 2020 bucket list, and I am proud to say I managed to tick everything off the list, from apple picking with the children at Fishkill Farms to enjoying one of the most memorable meals of my life at the Stone Barns at Blue Hill. (I almost literally rubbed elbows with chef Dan Barber while en route to the bathroom there and did not realize it. Shoot! I wish I had matched the face to the name — I love an opportunity to applaud a job well done. When I was younger, my mother used to stop women on the street to tell them that they had “great hair,” or “looked wonderful in that cheery pink color,” and I was routinely mortified. Now I go out of my way in emulation of her generosity. Nothing feels better than an unexpected and deserved compliment.) We also managed to undertake some autumn baking, carve jack o’lanterns, visit Storm King Art Center while the leaves were changing, enjoy pumpkin waffles and Halloween movies for dinner one night, send out Halloween cards to loved ones, hold a “Halloween costume dry run” that turned into a dance party in our living room, stop by a winery for a bottle of red on a patio overlooking fall foliage, buy some new Halloween decor, put out an Oktoberfest dinner spread (with sausage, homemade soft pretzels, saurkraut, etc.), and make multiple trips to designated bits of the UWS with beautifully decorated brownstones. In short, we leaned into the fall festivities this year, moreso than usual. My sister, who has been our companion on several of our outside-of-Manhattan fall excursions, noted that one silver lining of our pandemic-constrained lives has been an urge to get out there and do things (that are safe/practical for social distancing) that require planning and effort and that therefore occasionally, in other years, have not feel worth the fanfare.

“You know, under normal circumstances, we might have just gone to dinner a few times instead,” she commented as we swooned over the burgundy and marigold and pumpkin-colored trees at Blue Hill, and I had to agree. Would we have jumped through the hoops to procure the reservation and agreed to the extravagant price tag were it not for how few and far between such indulgences have felt this year?

Now, as I look to winter 2020, I’m mildly bummed to think that we won’t be able to take in the Thanksgiving Day Parade on CPW or take mini skating in Central Park or at Rockefeller Center, the latter of which I’ve been daydreaming of since last winter, when mini still seemed too young. (I don’t think renting ice skates is a COVID-friendly reality…?) But that’s OK. I am excited about my burgeoning holiday bucket list anyhow:

+taking a long walk through Central Park on Thanksgiving Day with mugs of mulled wine;

+driving outside the city to select a Christmas Tree;

+visiting the Empire State Building (which I’ve never been to before, but now might be the best time to go — few tourists and timed tickets!);

+making snowpeople and snow angels with mini (she is already excited about the prospect of snow and I hear we may have a snowier winter than usual);

+trimming the tree while sipping egg nog from an enormous punch bowl;

+watching all the Christmas movies;

+making my Grandmother Carm’s Christmas Horns (<<recipe in this post);

+and — if it seems safe enough? if it’s being held this year? — possibly going to see the train show at the New York Botanical Gardens.

What about for you? How has COVID-19 changed your 2020 bucket list? Are there any silver linings for you?

Post-Scripts: Little Scores to Brighten Winter 2020.

+These plastic snowmen molds are absolutely amazing. My MIL sent one to mini last year and she loved it. You can find different shapes, too, like this penguin. Fun way to make a snow day that much more special this winter.

+I mentioned a punch bowl for egg nog — we actually have this genius glass cake dome, which can be inverted to become a punch bowl.

+I like the idea of drinking nog out of these.

+Super random, but does anyone else love these peppermint puff candies?

+Amazing Target find — I had to add this to my cart! More great holiday scores from Target here.

+Polarn O. Pyret makes the absolute best winter/snow gear for children. The quality is amazing — I actually have purchased a number of items from their clothing collection and cannot speak highly enough about their attention to detail and the longevity of wear. WTTW: they run really tall (probably for the tall Scandi children they normally outfit). This snowsuit is such an incredible deal (usually like $120) and would probably fit a 1.5 year old. Mini owns this bib style (also ridiculously discounted on Amazon!). And I think I’ve written at least a dozen times about how much I loved their infant snowsuits — I bought for Hill in a few sizes so that I could put him in it and strap him to me in the Baby Bjorn while picking up Emory from school when it was really cold out last winter.

+I bought mini these $13 thermals for snowdays this year! (Read reviews!)

+I just bought myself this New Balance running jacket, on sale for as low as $34 in select colors/sizes, and these touchscreen-friendly gloves (reviews!) to encourage me to stick with my running habit as the mercury drops.

+These fireside lounge socks look like heaven, though if you’ve not yet bought a pair of Darn Tough socks for winter…you’re missing out. The footbed is cushioned and the sock is SO warm. Heavenly for layering in boots.

+This year, I’m in the market for a simple cashmere beanie like this (and matching mittens!) to pair with all my coats, both casual and dressy.

+These L.L. Bean hats for children come in some great colors — adore the “silver moon” colorway for mini.

+Eyeing these shearling-trim Sperry boots for myself this year — SO GOOD. I already have a pair of Sorel snowboots but…!?

+An investment, but a Lionel train around a Christmas tree is a classic. We have inherited the one that belonged to Mr. Magpie’s parents and it is unbelievable.

+Pearl cableknit sweater to add interest to your Netflix + Chill winter wardrobe. Mango is killing it with the knitwear this season — also eyeing this cardigan, which feels very Ulla.

+This felt tree is in my cart — perfect Saturday morning activity for my children. They love this kind of thing! (BTW – yes, you could totally make this on your own, but have you tried cutting felt recently?! It is hard! Even with good scissors! I made a little felt pizza activity for mini and spent like thirty minutes hacking at felt to make mushrooms, pepperoni, etc. My arm was tired! I’ll gladly pay $12 for a professional to do it for me. Haha!

+And while we’re on that subject, more indoor activities for toddlers.

+And while we’re on the topic of staying indoors, if you’re looking to get out of a meal rut in your home, crack open a bottle of sparkling wine, sit around the coffee table with plenty of paper towels, and try this indoor shrimp BBQ recipe! So festive and delicious.

+More chic early holiday finds.

P.S. For those who have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19.

P.P.S. A prayer for tough times (scroll down).

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10 thoughts on “How Has COVID-19 Changed Your 2020 Bucket List?

  1. Hi! Love all these festive and cozy ideas. I just wanted to chime in to second the Empire State building visit. I lived in NYC for three years and *almost* never went, but when I did, the views were breathtaking. I took my mom when she was in town, and we hit the top at sunset — still one of my very favorite memories of my time in New York (and great photos by which to remember!). Even better if you can go without the madness of crowds. You think you’ve seen the city’s best until…!! Enjoy.

  2. I am a devotee of Cos’s cashmere accessories. I have several sets of their hats, scarves and mittens. They are totally lush, long lasting, and not too pricey!

    1. SO funny you said this — I was just eyeing a pair of cashmere socks from them! Thanks for the tip!!

  3. I love this roundup of fun, safe winter activities! I need to get started on my own bucket list for the season … it’s going to be interesting because normally I am traveling so much during November/December that I barely have time to do anything festive (including getting a Christmas tree!!), and this year … well, I won’t be traveling at all! Haha. I’ll have to reacquaint myself with what I can do locally!

    That cake dome/punch bowl is GENIUS — added to my own Christmas wishlist!

    Re: cashmere beanie + mittens, I have a cabled set from J.Crew that I LOVE to pull out each year. But … now that I think of it, I think I have had these since ~2003 and I will be the first to admit that the quality of their cashmere has gone downhill in recent years. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for other good options!


    1. Yes! Time to lean into at-home/local festivities for sure. That actually makes me wonder what else might be happening in the city that we can reasonably do while practicing social distancing. I wonder, for example, if the stores will still have Christmas displays? xx

  4. Glad to see you are still able to find some fun in all of this. Have you seen the Chef’s Table series on Netflix? Dan Barber is featured in an episode- I actually thought of him specifically when you were discussing Chang the other day. They are truly artists, with fresh, home-grown food as their medium. Blue Hill is on my bucket list too.

    1. Hi Shauna! I’ve seen a few episodes of Chef’s Table but will have to seek out the Barber one. I totally agree with you — he is an artist. Ugh, Blue Hill!! The best! xx

  5. Hi Jen,

    The train show will be held this year (my company sponsors events at NYBG) and I believe the opening day is November 12th. Also, Winter Village at Bryant Park will be open starting October 30th. Still lots of things to look forward to this winter!

    1. Ooh thanks for the intel!! I just checked their site and it looks like only members are permitted to the train show. But, may be worth the investment this year! Thanks! xx

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