If you’re a parent, you know nothing beats spending time with family around the holidays.
However, also realize your kids aren’t young, Santa-obsessed children anymore; instead, they’re independent teenagers who might favor video games, social media, or friends over time spent with family.
So, how do you keep your teens engaged in family activities this holiday season? Create new, unique, and festive traditions that incorporate activities your teens enjoy, too. Here are some ideas to consider:
Hot Cocoa Bar
Who doesn’t love hot cocoa? This year, step it up a notch by creating a gourmet hot cocoa bar. A variety of hot cocoa flavors and every topping you can think of will do the trick. Think whipped cream, caramel, chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, candy canes, cinnamon sticks, marshmallows, hazelnuts, graham crackers, sprinkles, coconut — you name it. Is your mouth watering yet?
Holiday Selfie Scavenger Hunt
Your teenager likely snaps lots of selfies for social media. Why not take advantage of that and create a fun, holiday-themed selfie scavenger hunt at your local mall? Split up into teams and scour the mall for Christmas selfie opportunities, such as a selfie:
- With Santa
- Eating Christmas cookies
- In front of a Christmas tree
- Hanging a Christmas ornament
- Sipping hot cocoa
- With a wrapped present
- Near Christmas lights
- Under the mistletoe
Set a timer and meeting spot once the hunt is over. After each team runs around the mall collecting selfies, you’ll share your pictures and determine who got the better shot.
White Elephant Gift Exchange
Gift exchanges are always a fun holiday tradition. But what if that gift exchange included some of the silliest items you can think of? Cue the white elephant gift exchange. Typically, white elephant gifts are unusual, impractical, or funny items that most people don’t need or want (think gag gifts.). Not to mention, swapping hilarious presents makes holiday gift opening a rip-roaring time for everyone. Of course, this doesn’t have to take the place of your meaningful gift exchange.
Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest
Rather than wearing your pajamas to open presents on Christmas morning, why not up the ante and start an annual ugly Christmas sweater contest? Each member of the family can make or buy an ugly holiday sweater. Share your photos on social media; ask family and friends to vote on their favorite; and make sure the winner receives an extra gift, a trophy, or bragging rights.
Christmas Movie Marathon
Family movie night is a blast from the past now that your teens prefer going to the theater with friends. But Christmas can be the perfect time to gather the family for a movie marathon. Watch all your holiday favorites, such as:
- “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”
- “The Santa Clause”
- “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas”
- “A Christmas Story”
- “Home Alone”
- “Christmas with the Kranks”
- “The Holiday”
- “The Family Stone”
Cookie Baking and Decorating
Christmas and cookies go hand-in-hand, and baking is one of those family activities that never disappoint. Block off an entire night or day for mixing, baking, and decorating holiday cookies with the whole family. Some popular options include gingerbread, peanut butter blossoms, sugar, and spritz cookies.
Fun Family Christmas Cards
Mailing family photo Christmas cards is a common annual tradition, but getting your kids to cooperate for a photo session can be difficult. This year, rather than sending a traditional family portrait, why not have a little fun with your photo Christmas cards? Set up a hilarious, yet accurate, representation of your family; snap some expectation versus reality photos; create a purposeful awkward family photo, or opt for a witty saying such as:
- “Fresh out of falalas”
- “So elf’n cute”
- “Merry Whatever”
- “Kindly disregard my resting Grinch face”
Family TikTok Dance
Chances are if you have a teenager, you’ve heard of TikTok. You know, that social media platform with the dance trends. Ask your teen if they’re willing to teach you the latest dance challenge. Then, perform it as a family. Even the rehearsal process will be hilarious and fun for everyone, guaranteed. Who knows? Your video might go viral!
Enjoy Fun with the Whole Family This Holiday Season
Your teens may not want to write letters to Santa anymore, but there are plenty of holiday-themed family activities they no doubt enjoy, too. Whether it’s an impressive hot cocoa bar, Christmas selfies, a white elephant gift exchange, ugly Christmas sweater contest, movie marathon, cookie baking, funny photo Christmas cards, or learning a TikTok dance together, including your teens in this year’s festivities will be more enjoyable than ever.