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Things to do before you die – 10 special bucket list ideas

Bucket list ideas including outdoor adventures, writing an autobiography and throwing a party

You don’t necessarily need to take an around-the-world cruise, scale Everest or freefall from an airplane to fulfill a meaningful list of things to do before you die.

Here are 10 wonderful bucket list ideas to consider when you are thinking about the life you’ve led, the future ahead and your legacy.

1. Plant a tree

Apples hanging from the branch of an apple tree

A tree is a beautiful living legacy that you can easily tick off from your bucket list ideas. You could make an occasion of planting a sapling that your great-great-grandchildren may one day climb or build a tree fort in, or gift special loved ones with a favorite heritage apple they can each grow in memory of you.

You could consider donating a tree to your local community as one of the things you do before you die. Many conservation programs could inspire cool bucket list ideas and welcome the support of donors to help renew and protect national forests, as well as global natural habitats that protect the environment.

2. Write something

Woman sitting outside writing in a diary for her bucket list

Writing can help us explore all kinds of feelings and emotions, whether it’s a letter that we never post, a blog shared with strangers that we’ll never meet, a poem, or even a humorous personal account of fulfilling your own bucket list ideas.

Among the things to do before you die, why not write the story of your life and the people, places and things that were special to you? Have it printed in a keepsake book you can give to family members. Once upon a time…

3. Go on a date

Older man and woman sitting on swings together, enjoying a date

If you’re one half of a couple, setting up a date with the person you love as though it’s the first time is among the most special things to do before you die.

Sit in the back row at the movies, share a milkshake and fries at a diner, or dance the night away. Dress to the nines. Pay each other compliments. Talk about what’s important to each other, as if you didn’t know. Hold hands. Be silly. Be serious. Tell them exactly what they mean to you, stay out late… and tell the kids not to wait up.

4. Have an awesome vacation close to home

Killer whale surfacing off the coast of the San Juan Islands

There’s no shortage of cool bucket list ideas that involve long-haul vacations to exotic destinations. Yet there’s so many unique places to see way closer to home. Our All-American bucket list features 10 Stateside destinations everyone should try to tick off their bucket list, from the Golden Gate Bridge to whale-watching off the San Juan Islands.

5. Have an outdoors adventure

Man fishing off a boat in a lake surrounded by evergreens

For some people living with a life-limiting illness, it can be frustrating to be treated as though you ought to be wrapped in cotton wool. Some amazing organizations make adrenaline-pumping bucket list ideas a possibility.

The Way Outfitters hosts activity holidays for children, youths or U.S. Military veterans that have a serious disability or a terminal illness. It offers experiences including game hunting, lake or deep-sea fishing, skiing, or time spent down on the ranch.

Fearless cancer-fighters aged 18 to 39 are pushed to their limits taking part in nonprofit First Descents’ challenging and epic adventure programs.

6. Random acts of kindness

Team of volunteers helping to pick up litter

Not all bucket list ideas have to be carefully planned. A personal pledge to perform a random act of kindness every day is among the special things to do before you die. Whether it’s holding a door open for someone, volunteering in your community, contributing time or money to a good cause, or donating a book to a local library, doing a good turn for someone can bring simple and heart-warming pleasure.

7. Make something

Sketchbook, paints and paintbrushes

Creativity is a great form of therapy that can make you feel happier and reduce stress. Why not include making something beautiful among your bucket list ideas?

Even if you’ve never picked up a brush since fifth grade, there’s a pleasure in learning to paint, modeling with clay, wood-turning, quilting, or making everyday objects beautiful with decorative decoupage.

Seek out inspirational ideas and follow step-by-step tutorials online, or join a community class or social club that welcomes anyone from beginners and enthusiasts to expert amateurs. Learn something new, or share your skills – and maybe even help fulfil someone else’s bucket list ideas.

8. Look up

Stunning late sunset with a full moon in the sky

Watching the sun rise or set over the horizon is among the cool bucket list ideas that cost nothing more than a few waking hours – and what a beautiful way to spend them.

Or between dusk and dawn, head somewhere out of town and look for shooting stars in a night sky mapped out by countless constellations. Take a picnic blanket, a warm flask and maybe someone special to enjoy the space and silence with.

9. Make a funeral wishes list

Man writing a list of funeral wishes in a notebook

It’s natural to want to make the most of the time that we have left, rather than dwell on what will happen when we go. But a valuable item to check off your bucket list ideas is a funeral wishes list.

Even if you already have a funeral plan, a list of funeral wishes may be a great comfort to your family when the time comes. “Wear bright colors” or “play my favorite country song” – what would you wish for?

10. Have a party

Man raising a glass with his family at a party

A funeral wake’s traditionally a time for family and friend to celebrate a loved one after their passing, but why miss out on the party of your lifetime when it could be among the most incredible things to do before you die?

That’s been the philosophy of some remarkable people, who wished for one last joyful get-together with the people who meant the most in their lives. Of all the cool bucket list ideas, those involving family, friendship and exchanging meaningful goodbyes can be the most precious. Consider arranging for a photographer or friend to capture the event – and enjoy every moment.

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