Christmas Traditions with Teenagers

Join our amazing community
Share what you know, learn something new!


MHH Member
Jun 7, 2022
I had a quick look for a traditions thread, and couldn't see anything, so apologies if I'm double-posting.

I'm after some new traditions for November-December. Dh and I have two kids who will be 12&14 by this Christmas, and aren't into the same things as they used to be.
Last year it was very noticeable that I had a teenager, re; mood swings/unenthusiastic about everything!

We usually do a North Pole breakfast on 1st December, we have Advent calendars, and we usually take our dogs to a rented field on Christmas Eve. I also do a scavenger hunt for the kids on Christmas Eve morning for them to find their Xmas Eve box (although I have to adapt this as it's now too easy for them!)

In other year's, we've played games, made gingerbread houses etc which was ok.

Does anyone have any ideas for a Christmassy thing to do (perhaps for each weekend on the run-up to the day)?


Lori K

Well-Known Member
Premiere Member
Nov 13, 2018
  • Look for Christmas-y events in your town and neighboring towns -- ice carving, luminary festivals, hot chocolate nights, lights festivals, and perhaps allow them to bring a friend along (if you can accommodate additional passengers) or arrange to meet up at the event.
  • Spend a night driving around the heavily decorated areas in your community to ohhh and ahhh over the decorations. And, if you decorate outside, involve your kids in the planning and set-up, so they'll know (really know) what these decorations involve in terms of set up and maintenance.
  • Ice skating is always a fun thing to do, especially with a group of family and friends, if you have a rink nearby.
  • Libraries often host holiday crafting events.
  • If you have a historical society, look for storytelling events. We have one that does a wonderful telling of the Charles Dickens story.
  • Check out some high school Christmas concerts, especially if you will have options to select from when your kids are ready for high school -- a good way to check out the school, without "formally" checking it out during Open House dates. You can tell a lot about the school by the way their events are run, how much staff is on-site, and the behavior of the kids who attend and/or participate. We did our inital investigation of one public and two parochial public high schools this way, before they'd even started accepting applications.
  • Find a church or other agency that has an "adopt a child" program to provide Christmas gifts for the less fortunate. Perhaps, each of your kids could adopt a child and spend time selecting and wrapping the gifts.
  • As a family, shop for the local food pantry -- or let them handle the donation bin on their own. There are numerous advent calendars with suggesions for what to add to the donation box each day. Search online for "reverse advent calendar food pantry." Also, remember to give early, so the pantry is stocked in time for the holiday (Nov. 15, for Thanksgiving; Dec. 15 for Christmas; Dec. 31 or Jan. 1 to start the New Year off on a good note).
  • If your kids need to make some cash for the holidays, I've seen posts about Cash for Cleaning (above and beyond the normal routine) charts. These funds could go toward the adopt a child for Christmas gift purchases or toward food for the pantry donations. Perhaps list various tasks each week that need to be done, and offer a $ amount tied to the task -- Mom needs the baseboards in the living room done ($5-10, depending on the size of the room and how much you want someone else to do it for you); or the sports equipment in the garage needs to be organized / put away ($5, $10 if you sweep the garage, too); the mudroom is a mess and needs to be picked up, cleaned, and stuff put away ($3) -- chores that are age appropriate and would allow the kids to earn a little for tasks they can handle but don't normally do. And, those funds would need to go to the charitable event (gifts for the needy, food pantry purchases, etc., not to spending on themselves).


Super Moderator
Staff member
Premiere Member
Oct 14, 2007
South NJ
  • Bake cookies with them, have them each pick a recipe they want to make. Decorating cut out sugar cookies was always fun with my kids (which are now 22 and 17)
  • I agree with driving around looking at lights.
  • Christmas Movie marathon (can be stretched over several nights) with popcorn, freshly baked cookies and/or their favorite snacks and drinks. Everyone picks out a movie or 2.
  • Family Christmas PJs
  • Ask your kids if there is anything special they want to do.
  • Group picture with Santa
  • Light up an outdoor fire pit to roast marshmallows, have hot cocoa, listen to Christmas music or better yet sing Christmas carols.
  • There are Christmas Themed board games


Well-Known Member
Premiere Member
Apr 23, 2008
Canberra, Australia
I would sit down when the kids are in a good mood and have a chat. I would explain that times are changing and that they are growing up and what do they like/dislike about Christmas. What do they think is fun and what would they like to change?
Make it a casual conversation, write some lists in a planner so that you remember what was said down the track.
Let us know how you do


Well-Known Member
Premiere Member
Oct 15, 2007
What wonderful ideas here!

I would second the suggestion to have a "family meeting" to discuss what your kids would enjoy or find meaningful. You might be surprised that even though they may act a little "grumpy" in their hearts they really do enjoy the family time and traditions. We own a vacation get-away where TV was off limits when the kids were young. One time on our drive there DH commented that I was the only one in the family that didn't want a TV. I knew my oldest DD was fine with no TV, but expected my youngest to agree with DH and push to have a TV. She totally surprised me by piping up to say that she was glad there was no TV. Just sayin' ... you might be surprised.

Good luck!


Santa's Elves
Premiere Member
Oct 27, 2007
As a mom to young adults, 18-25, they really do miss when the traditions aren't the same. Some big hits with our kids during the teen years were driving around light displays, movie nights with themed dinners....they love Chinese night with A Chirstmas Story...., family picture day with dinner out afterwards, a hot cocoa bar in the kitchen throughout the month and game night with appetizers. Ask them what they may be surprised.


MHH Member
Jun 7, 2022
Thanks everyone for your advice and ideas. You've given me so many great ideas.

I'll start asking them casual questions to gauge their interest in things.

@Minta - we have a chiminea in the back garden I can use for marshmallows etc. for some reason I never used it during winter last year!

Thanks again... I'm going to have to write these ideas down.

Miss JoDee

MHH Member
Premiere Member
Apr 22, 2011
Gurnee, IL
What about a picture scavenger hunt in an expensive store you don't normally shop and ask them to find things they would love if they would love to give to family members if they could afford it. Have them print and wrap the gift and put it under the tree. Oh I may just do this with my family.