Christmas Tradition Ideas For Older Kids and Teens

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Why does it seem like big kids are always getting left out of Christmas traditions? Once kids are out of that ‘Christmas magic’ and ‘Santa’ phase, it’s way too easy to stop focusing on them as much during the holidays. These Christmas tradition ideas for older kids are the perfect way to bring some holiday magic back to the season – even if your kids aren’t little anymore.

In our house, the kids are all different ages so it can be tricky to manage everyone’s needs. Thankfully they all believe (or at least play along…) in Santa, so there’s no worrying about keeping secrets from the little kids.

That being said, the older kids aren’t always as keen as the little ones to do traditional ‘family’ Christmas activities. Instead of being excited to see the mall Santa, for example, they suffer through because it makes me happy.

Super Fun Ideas for Christmas Traditions to Start With Older Kids and Teens

Whether all your kids are older, or you have a mix, there’s so many fun things to do during the Christmas holiday season with your big kids. Here’s a few of my favourite Christmas tradition ideas for older kids or teenagers.

String Popcorn Garland

Homemade popcorn garland with cranberries

This is something that’s super fun to do, but not quite so much with littles. Toddlers can choke on popcorn, and younger school aged kids will have trouble with the needle. Older kids, on the other hand, can do this themselves alongside you.

First, pop some plain popcorn. Then using a needle and thread, string the popcorn to make a garland. Traditionally it’s used to decorate the tree.

This is a great tradition because you need to make it fresh every year!

Wrap Gifts For Other People Together

Mom and older kids wrapping Christmas presents together as a holiday tradition

When kids are little gift wrapping isn’t something they’re coordinated to do well, or at least without a lot of help. Older kids, on the other hand, can be a real help when it comes to Christmas gift wrapping.

Honestly, some of my best Christmas memories involve helping my mom wrap gifts while we watched holiday movies.

Check Out a Holiday Blockbuster

Watching a movie together on Christmas

No more little kid movies! You can take your older kids to the latest Hollywood blockbuster. A lot of movies actually come out on Christmas Day which makes this is a super fun family tradition.

It also helps break up the day when kids are bit too old to play with their gifts, but still want something to do with the family.

Go on a Sleigh Ride

Family going on a sleigh ride

Although little kids find this fun too, it’s a much better Christmas tradition idea for older kids. Instead of spending the whole trip trying to keep little ones seated and occupied, you can actually enjoy the ride with your family.

Try and find a sleigh ride that’s part of a bigger festival for a really fun holiday activity.

Assign Everyone Their Own Wrapping Paper

Wrapping presents with special wrapping paper

This is a fun way to wrap up gifts for kids of all ages, but without having to worry about Santa gifts it makes it easier. Assign each kid their own wrapping paper and wrap all their gifts in that print. No need for name tags!

You can make it even more of a tradition by going shopping as a family together to pick out your own individual wrapping paper choice.

Plan a Winter Getaway

Family with older kids going on a winter getaway as a Christmas tradition idea

It’s pretty tough to travel with little kids, especially around the holidays. After spending a month in Australia over Christmas with a 2 and 4 year old I can say this with personal experience.

Travelling over Christmas with older kids, on the other hand, is a delight. You don’t need to bring many gifts (Santa doesn’t need to visit anymore) and you can have a lot of fun as a family. Trips are Christmas tradition ideas for older kids that are truly fun for the whole family!

Host a Family Gift Exchange

Family hosting a gift exchange on Christmas

Rather than having everyone buy gifts for everyone, do a gift exchange instead. Give all the kids a budget and let them choose what they give. It’s a fun way to get them involved in the holiday shopping, but it also saves money. Especially if you get extended family involved!

For an even more fun idea, try doing a White Elephant gift exchange!

Do a Christmas Morning Scavenger Hunt

Two older kids with their presents

Ever feel like Christmas morning unwrapping goes too quick? Swap it out with a holiday activity instead. Instead of placing the gifts under the Christmas tree, hide them around the house. Then give kids a series of riddles they have to solve to uncover their gifts.

What I love about doing this with just older kids is that everyone can read and solve the riddles on their own!

Do Something That Your Teens Will Find Totally Lame (But Actually Enjoy)

Baking Christmas cookies with a teen

Just because they’re getting too cool for, well, everything… Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever embarrass your kids. Keep a silly tradition going that your kids pretend to hate. Sometimes those turn into the best childhood memories!

A fun idea is to make everyone wear matching pajamas Christmas eve or bake cookies together for the holidays. You can also continue some of the Christmas traditions with your older kids that you started when the kids were young.

Have a ‘Bad’ Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the shelf hanging from a Christmas tree

Once your kids are teenagers they definitely won’t believe the Elf on the Shelf moves on its own. But that’s where the second bit of fun can start! Instead of having a regular Elf, let your teens take turns making it do ‘bad’ things.

My cousin did this for her kids ones year and the Elf and Barbie were always up to no good, partying, etc.

Hopefully these Christmas traditions for older kids help inspire you this holiday season… Pick out a few to try, or come up with your own! Just don’t forget about those big kids (even if they act like they don’t care).

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