I remember some of those early years of celebrating Christmas with my children. They were so excited about even the simplest things. We’d decorate the tree with their sweet homemade ornaments, bake cookies that were more sprinkles that dough and watch ALL the classic Christmas specials like Rudolph and Frosty all cuddled up on the couch.
Those were such special times. It’s hard to believe that those two little elves that used to run around my house in footie pajamas wearing reindeer antler headbands and singing Christmas carols with the words all jumbled up are now a tween and teen.
It can be hard this time of year when you’ve got older kids, because you miss those days when the holidays still felt magical to them. Now, it’s more like you’re living with some serious grinches. Getting them excited about all the things they used to love can be such a struggle and it can be tempting to just let go of family holiday traditions.
But no matter how scrooge like they may seem, traditions still matter to tweens and teens. They are familiar and comforting and build memories that will lay the groundwork for their future homes. So, don’t give up on spending quality time with your kiddos this Christmas, it just may mean that you need to try a few new ones that better fit this stage of life.
25 Christmas Traditions for Families with Tweens and Teens
- Volunteer as a family.
– Serve meals at a homeless shelter
– deliver them to at risk seniors via meals on wheels
– Adopt a family to buy gifts for via local organizations
- Attend a holiday special event: Holiday Concert, Nutcracker, Rockettes, Church Play, Live Nativity (or stream one and watch from home)
- Have an ugly Christmas sweater competition and then decorate the tree together
- Find a new family favorite Christmas movie with these Holiday Movies for Tweens and Teens
- Decorate Christmas Cookies (no they really aren’t too old). But you can take it up a notch by challenging them to get artistic using an icing kit and fancy sprinkles
- Deliver treats to neighbors/Friends(leave on doorstep and Ding Dong Ditch)
- Get them tween/teen friendly advent calendars (there are so many pop culture ones these days or other themed ones that are perfect for older kids)
- Have a Hot Cocoa Bar
- Do A Family Holiday Photo Scavenger Hunt
- Make a Holiday Playlist with everyone’s suggestions
- Choose 12 Random Acts of Kindness and do them as a family
- Try Family Game Night With These Tween/Teen Approved Board Games
- Family Shopping Night (Online Shopping works too. Have everyone get cozy on the couch with their computers and do some serious internet searches to see who can come up with the best gifts for everyone on your list!)
- Everyone gets silly holiday themed socks
- Christmas morning breakfast (same foods every year)
- New pajamas, open Christmas Eve (Skip the matchy matchy and heck they don’t even have to be xmas ones)
- Decorate the outside of your home together
- Make S’mores by the fire
- Play Family Style Minute To Win It Games
- Family gift wrap night
- Drive around town and look at Christmas lights
- Decorate Ginger Bread Houses (or mansions). Make it a “friendly” competition and let them share their creations on social media.
- Have a white elephant gift exchange (who can come up with the tackiest gift for under $5)
- Special Christmas Eve Dinner: Fondue, Make Christmas Tree Shaped Pizza, Make Each Kid Their Favorite Dish or Just Have Cookies and Ice Cream for Dinner.
- Go sledding, ice skating, have a snowball fight, build a snowman or some kind of holiday outdoor activity
- Candlelight Church on Christmas Eve
These are just ideas to get you started, but maybe you can sit down together and come up with some better ones that your tweens/teens are more likely to enjoy. Overall, keep it simple and don’t pick too many. Your teens/tweens will be more willing to go along if you don’t get too overboard. Even just a few family traditions are all it takes to bring you together this time of year and perhaps you might just get a quick glimpse of those little elves still hidden inside those big kid bodies.