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40 Things to Do in May to Make It Your Best Month

I’ve always understood people best through their favorites. Those quiet truths about themselves that—if you look carefully—reveal how they experience and understand the world. It’s a way of staking your claim and building an idea of selfhood by association. After all, a favorite book, movie, city, or season says so much about a person. And my favorite month? (Well, one of—I love November’s cozy chill and the end-of-year busyness.) But with all the things to do in May, there’s plenty to be excited about in the days ahead.

Gardening season, pool parties, and plenty of dining al fresco. No matter where you are, it seems that May is the month when things truly start to warm up (and stay warm). Spring is in full swing, and the promise of summer is on the horizon.

I have a feeling this month is going to be a good one, but if you’re looking for things to do in May, don’t worry—I’ve got you.

40 Things to Do in May to Recharge for Summer

There’s so much inspiration to be found in the month ahead. Flowers are blooming, the sun’s staying up longer, and the energy is positive and bright. So soak up the good vibes and scroll on for 40 things to do in May, complete with margarita recipe). Get ready to welcome the month with open arms.

1. Find the perfect present for Mom. Mother’s Day is coming up and while we have all of our brunch recipes bookmarked, finding the perfect present to share your love may be a bit more of a challenge. Luckily, we’ve rounded up our favorite gifts.

2. Get into summer baking. Yes, it’s a thing! And if you want to keep your oven off, try these no-bake lemon treats and mango lassi popsicles.

3. Subscribe to a new magazine. If you’re trying to spend less time on social media, replace your habit with something inspiring. Is there anything more enjoyable than sipping on tea while leafing through your favorite design magazine? Definitely not.

4. Get lost in a good documentary. We know, we know—the colder months are when we should be binge-watching all our favorite shows and films, making way for plenty of time spent outdoors in summer. But, and stay with us here, what if there was a guide to inspiring, must-watch documentaries right at your fingertips? Good news: there totally is. We’ve rounded up the most thought-provoking, awe-inspiring documentaries to stream right now.

5. Prioritize walking. It’s easy, accessible, and all it takes is a good pair of sneakers and opening the door. If you need convincing, consult this list of all the many ways walking supports your mental and physical health. (More energy and less stress? We’ll take it.)

6. Make easy tweaks to transform your routine. When I started thinking about all the hours I spent scrolling on my phone as time I was taking away from myself, I dropped the habit then and there. I want to be pouring into myself, learning and growing every step of the way. If something doesn’t support that, I drop it. Reflect on your routines and consider what might be stealing that time from your life—and try picking up one of these healthy habits instead.

7. Find your new favorite summer drink. When the sun hits just right and the temps are above 80 degrees, you can for sure catch me on a patio with an Aperol spritz in hand. It’s my go-to drink of the season and it’s oh-so-refreshing. But I’m always open to changing things up, and there’s no better way to welcome summer than with this recipe for Strawberry Rosé Sangria. It’s fruity, herby, and just the thing to serve at any outdoor gathering you host. (Psst… Simply ditch the Grand Marnier and swap in this non-alcoholic sparkling rosé for an easy, zero-ABV option.)

8. Read a new book. I shared all of my favorite spring reads here.

Set out on a walk or an afternoon of exploration, searching for the small vignettes of wonderfully-composed, natural beauty.

9. Watch the Kentucky Derby. Can’t make it to Churchill Downs on May 4? Throw your own Derby party! Pimento cheese, hot brown sandwiches, and a Derby Pie, of course. Oh, and don’t forget the easiest Mint Julep.

10. Whip up a go-to summer salad. Salad season is upon us, and we couldn’t be happier to showcase the summer’s best produce. Go simple with this green salad, upgrade your fruit salad, or enjoy our flavorful twist on the classic pasta salad. Whatever you choose, prepare for a bright and satisfying meal.

11. Update your skincare routine for summer. Maybe you’re married to your 12-step skincare routine, but the switch to a new season is the perfect time to swap out a few of your tried-and-true products. While summer is synonymous with minimal make-up and the bronzed and bright glow-up we’re all craving, skin woes still remain. So whether you need to step up your exfoliation game or re-vamp your approach to retinol, check out our derm-approved guide to summer skincare.

12. Mix up a batch of margaritas. Our round-up of the best margarita recipes in the world doesn’t disappoint.

13. Get more sunlight in the morning. Set your circadian rhythm first thing and get your energy going. Try to stay off your phone for 30 minutes after waking up. This could be the perfect time to work a walk into your day…

14. Practice positive affirmations. These will change your life.

15. Learn to make a cheeseboard. Is there anything more dramatic or celebratory than a fruit, nut, and veggie-filled cheeseboard (with multiple cheeses, of course)? Answer: definitely not. While they’re traditionally reserved for appetizers, there’s nothing stopping you from packing a board full of satisfying and savory components. Steal these tips for crafting the perfect summer cheeseboard.

With so much in bloom, there’s an abundance of opportunities to seek out moments that inspire you and leave you in awe.

16. Make a monthly playlist. Who doesn’t love a little background music to energize their everyday routines? Use it as a way to guide your intentions for the month. How do you want to feel? What do you want to bring into your life? Let those visions for yourself guide your selections. And if you need some inspiration, steal our Casa Zuma Daybreak playlist.

17. If you’re not making your bed first thing, start! It’s the easiest way to feel accomplished immediately. Who doesn’t love that?

18. Take stock of your 2024 goals. How are you making progress toward the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? Are there ways you can shift your routine to fall in alignment with your intentions? Are there goals that no longer resonate with you? Set aside time to re-evaluate and make changes if necessary—to both your habits and the goals themselves.

19. Seek out moments of unexpected beauty. This is more of an intention than a to-do, but something we fully encourage nonetheless. With so much in bloom, there’s an abundance of opportunities to seek out moments that inspire you and leave you in awe. Set out on a walk or an afternoon of exploration, searching for the small vignettes of wonderfully-composed, natural beauty. A trio of trees positioned perfectly so or a grouping of gardenias that are fresh, abundant, and full. Whatever you find, whatever you seek out, spend a little time being present for the natural wonder it offers.

20. Plan a picnic. There’s no better time of year than the early summer to make picnic plans. Gather your guests, pick a venue (parks are my favorite), and make a menu. The beautiful thing about picnics is that it’s easy for everyone to pitch in. Assign a course or a dish to each guest and enjoy this easy, elegant entertaining solution.

21. Keep a time journal. So often, we find ourselves saying that we’re too busy to do what we really want with our lives. But have you ever kept track of the time you’ve spent zoning out in front of Netflix or hate-scrolling through your social feeds? Not great. Spend a few days reflecting with pen and paper on where your minutes and hours are going. Trust me, the experience is eye-opening.

Whatever you seek out, spend a little time being present for the natural wonder it offers.

22. Perfect the al fresco workday lunch. Our lemony Feta Salad With White Beans is exactly what we want to be munching on between the hours of noon and 2 p.m. It’s hearty, creamy, and just salty enough thanks to the blocks of feta tossed throughout. The whole thing can be thrown together in a matter of minutes—and consumed even faster. (Psst… if a classic lunchtime sammie is more your speed, The New York Times Cooking has you covered with the perfect tuna sandwich—with a crunchy twist.)

23. Take a class. A workout class, sewing class, programming class—anything! Now is the time to learn the skills you’ve always wanted to master. Sign up online via a program like Skillshare, research local gym options, or see what’s available through community colleges in your area.

24. Make a habit of buying yourself flowers. Every week, I buy myself a bouquet of seasonal flowers that I arrange in a pitcher on my dining room table. They bring me endless joy throughout the week and are a small way to show myself a little love. If you find the same joy in flowers, visit your farmer’s market or even Trader Joe’s to find a few fresh blooms that make you smile. (Psst… this is how to make a budget bouquet look stunningly professional.)

25. Shop sustainable swimwear. Gearing up for some summer swimming? Same. The good news is that there are plenty of brands designing and developing eco-friendly suits that are ideal for any adventure. Our favorites? Gigi C offers gorgeous, sporty swimwear with a touch of luxe. Summersalt has been credited with creating the perfect bathing suit. Oh, and don’t forget Everlane—their pieces may be minimalist, but they pack a whole lot of style.

26. Commit to one big, special meal a week. At least. When I lived in Paris, I loved Sunday lunches—dining with my whole host family at noon. It was a meal complete with a stunning main course, salad, cheese, and wine. Make note of the free time in your week. When does it make sense to sit down as a family, with your partner, or roommates and spend time prepping in the kitchen so that you’ll enjoy it, sans stress?

27. Skip the blow dryer. Summer is the season of air-dried hairstyles. Give your locks a little break and enjoy the healthy shine.

28. Hike your heart out. Winter hiking is totally a thing, and there’s definitely nothing better than finding yourself among the changing leaves in the fall. But there’s something about stepping outside when the temps finally allow it and soaking up all the good, spring-to-summer views. Pick out a few hikes you’d like to try in your local area, call up a friend, and make a date for a weekend or after-work walk.

29. Romanticize every moment of your life. There are countless ways to find and create beauty every day.

30. Go out for ice cream. Honestly, I’d take an ice cream date over happy hour any day. Go with a girlfriend or plan it with your kiddos. It’s the little things.

31. Schedule a standing coffee date. My neighbor and I recently started taking weekly coffee runs/walks every Sunday morning. It’s a great time to connect, stretch my legs, and get out. If there’s someone close by you’d like to see more of, send a text and make it a weekly thing.

32. Go on a bike ride. I love going for a good cycle, oftentimes without a destination in mind. It’s the perfect weekend afternoon activity, and a wonderful way to consider your city through fresh eyes.

33. Go all-in on tenniscore. Challengers has officially inspired all of my outfits from now until fall. This is how to perfect the look.

34. Send thank you notes to your kids’ teachers. Teacher Appreciation Week is the first week of May. Use it as an excuse to share a little gratitude for all the good they bring into the world.

35. Make Memorial Day plans. It’s the unofficial start of the summer, and these are the best Memorial Day recipes to celebrate.

36. Refine your cleaning routine. Is your house starting to accumulate stuff after your spring clean? Design a cleaning ritual that works for you. A little tidying each day goes a long way.

37. Visit a U-Pick farm. Strawberries are in season in warmer climates. There’s no better way to celebrate the season then visiting a farm and picking fresh fruit. When you get home, you’ll have plenty fresh produce to play with in the kitchen.

38. Plant herbs in pots. Even if you don’t have an expansive backyard for planting beds, you can create a small but abundant container garden with just a few pots.

39. Go wine tasting. I love a Saturday afternoon out in wine country with friends and visiting a vineyard or two. Plan for a day with nice weather in the forecast. There’s nothing better.

40. Remember: happiness is a skill—practice it. Joy isn’t simply something that happens to you. We have to look for the moments that fill us up and remind us of the magic in the world. Pay attention to the life taking place all around you and ask how you can appreciate its beauty all the more.

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