The older our kids get, the more difficult it can be to get them to hang out and engage with us during the holidays. Friends, work, and romantic partners often monopolize their time during school breaks.
Now is a great time to start fun traditions that will get your teens excited about hanging out at home. With any luck, these traditions will become something they look forward to next year too!
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1. Make Gifts for Holiday Guests
Spend an afternoon making gifts that you can distribute to your extended family and anyone who visits your home over the holidays. Purchase candle-making or soap-making kits at a local craft store, fill jars with homemade hot cocoa mix, or bake cookies. The time together is a gift for you too!
2. Food Challenge
We love a good food challenge at our house. Let teens be in charge of planning holiday meal appetizers and give them a theme to work with. It can be a color, an era (only recipes from the '60s, for example), or a holiday theme (all apps have to be in the shape of a star, for example). Let them get creative.
3. New PJs, Hot Cocoa, and TV
Order some silly matching pajamas for the whole family and get everyone their own mug. Snuggle on the couch and watch a holiday parade or your family's favorite Christmas movie.
4. Build It and Blow It Up
Buy a gingerbread house kit (or several) and build them together. Keep the house as decoration through the holidays, then fill it with firecrackers and blow it up on New Year's Eve.
|The memory plates our foreign exchange students made for us!
5. Make Memory Plates
Purchase plain white ceramic plates from your favorite craft store, then have everyone use permanent markers to draw pictures and list their favorite memories from the year. It can be something that happened or even a quote that someone said. Be sure to add the date! Allow the plates to dry for 24 hours, then place them on a baking sheet in a cold oven. Turn the oven to 400˚F and let them bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn off the oven, but leave the plates inside until they are cooled completely.
6. Holiday Breakfast
Put your teens in charge of breakfast for Hanukkah, Christmas, or New Year's Day. Let them create the menu and do all the shopping (an important life skill) and reward their efforts by taking care of the clean-up.
7. Look at Holiday Lights
Pile into the car (in your new PJs) and drive around the neighborhood to look at lights together.
8. Start a Family Competition
Come up with different activities to compete in: cornhole, darts, trivia, hula hoop, or Minute-to-Win-It games. Have a prize for the winners (gift cards, holiday socks, etc.) and a penalty for the losers (push-ups, eating super sour candy or something super spicy, etc.).
9. Hit Play
Let your teens make a dinner or holiday playlist. They will love sharing their music with you!
10. Invite Friends
They will still want to spend time with their friends, so invite everyone to an all-day open house to share everything you've done. Show off your gingerbread houses, distribute the gifts you made together, and turn on the playlist. Make sure to have plenty of hot cocoa and snacks on hand and enjoy the love and laughter.
Rebecca Plaisance is the publisher of Macaroni KID South Charlotte, N.C. and Kyrie Collins is the publisher of Macaroni KID Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree, Colo.