This post: Your Teen Isn’t Too Cool for Holiday Traditions (Even Hokey Ones!)
Written By: Marybeth Bock
When my kids were young, the days leading up to Christmas were jam-packed with activities and traditions.
Seeing the sparkle in their eyes when they saw the twinkling lights on our Christmas tree and the excitement in their voices when they hopped up on Santa’s lap to share their wish list were precious times. They were sheer magic for them and me.
But then, my kids became teenagers and I was sure we’d lose that magic…
Parents: Your Teen Isn’t Too Cool for Holiday Traditions (Even Hokey Ones!)
When our kids hit their teen years, it’s easy to fall into a bit of complacency and scale back on some of the holiday traditions they grew up with.
After all, they really don’t care, right?
They have better things to do, right?
They’re too old for traditions, right?
And, they’re way too cool to take part in “little kid” traditions, right?
I mean, I know we’re all busy and it’s hard to find the time to squeeze in a few fun traditions in December when the entire family is a little crazed with things like holiday band concerts, gift exchanges, sports team playoffs, studying for final exams and projects due before winter break starts.
But I’ve learned as a mom of big kids that we may think our tweens and teens have outgrown a lot of the traditions they loved when they were kids, they actually STILL love them… even the hokey ones!
Here are just a few of the wonderful (and hokey) traditions I’m carrying on with my kids:
Elf on the Shelf
I was sure our elf was going to retire to a box and never be seen again when my kids became older teens, but lo and behold, they wouldn’t allow it! They still love it when the elf does his crazy antics (although I must admit, I’m fresh out of ideas after all these years). Now they oftentimes take turns coming up with fun and crazy ideas. Living proof – teenagers are not too old or too cool for Christmas elves.
Holiday Baking Day
Although they do more of the eating than the baking, my kids love the smell of cookies baking in the oven. Let’s just say, those traditional Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies don’t stick around long when they’re fresh out of the oven.
Christmas Movie Night
Every year, my family plans a Christmas movie marathon night. We watch a few of my kids’ childhood favorites like Frosty and Rudolph, but we also try to toss in another more modern holiday movie.
We whip up a fun holiday snack board and make hot cocoa to make the evening festive, and we snuggle up in cozy blankets. My kids might tower over me now, but I can still see the same twinkle in their eyes when those movies stir up fond childhood memories.
Putting Out Milk and Cookies for Santa
I know… crazy, right? But we DO! In fact, one year I forgot and my kids reminded me. They’ll even grab a few carrots from the fridge and lay them next to cookies… you know… for Rudolph.
Driving Around Looking at Neighborhood Lights
I don’t think my kids will ever get tired of this tradition and neither will I. We pack up the car with drinks, snacks, and sweets, crank up the holiday music in the car, and venture out to find the coolest lights in town. We have our favorite neighborhoods we visit every year and we always try to find another one we haven’t visited before.
Oh, parents… I know your teen sometimes acts like they don’t care. I know they often choose their friends over family time and they likely spend a bit too much time holed up in their bedrooms, but don’t let them fool ya… they really DO love holiday traditions. They’re little on the inside!
And, not only are those traditions just plain fun, they do a whole lot more for your kids…
Traditions Foster Family Bonding Time
All those holiday traditions you’re carrying on create the perfect opportunity for your family to come together and bond. My big kids still love making gingerbread houses with their younger cousins every year. I love watching them help the little kids with mixing up the frosting and making suggestions on how to best decorate their masterpieces.
They Help Your Family Make Lasting Memories
Some of the memories my husband worked so tirelessly to create when our kids were very young, my kids hardly remember. Yet, others are embedded in their hearts forever. My son was reminding me just the other day how much he loved getting an advent calendar every year – some of them were remarkable, with tasty treats they devoured. Some were downright gross, with horrible-tasting morsels that even the dog wouldn’t eat. To this day, we still carry on this tradition.
They Put Importance on Family Heritage
Maybe your family makes a special meal on Christmas Eve that’s full of recipes that have been passed down for generations. Or maybe you hide a pickle ornament in your Christmas tree like our family does. Keeping up with these traditions helps teenagers connect with their cultural and familial heritage, fostering a sense of identity and belonging. And, chances are, they’ll carry these on with their kids someday!
They Offer a Sense of Comfort and Stability
When your teen is feeling stressed or lonely, taking part in a family tradition can give them a sense of comfort, continuity, and stability. When my daughter was completely exhausted from filling out college applications, we handed her a mug of hot chocolate, ushered her into the car, and drove around to look at holiday lights. For that hour or two she stepped away from all the stress and was given the freedom to be a kid again.
They Teach Kindness, Generosity, and Gratitude
So many traditions are centered around kindness, generosity, and gratitude – wonderful values that are so important to instill in our kids. Our family likes to participate in an angel tree activity during the holidays. I love watching my kids pick out items for a deserving family, and they still look forward to putting money into the red kettle when they hear a volunteer ringing the bell outside of a store.
So, if you have a teen who still loves to dress up in matching pajamas, bake mounds of Christmas cookies, hunt for the elf on the shelf, or snuggle up during a family movie night watching all the old holiday classics from their childhood, embrace every moment of their laughter and joy.
You may not realize it now, but your kids (and you!) are making core memories, strengthening your family bond, and fortifying important values.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your teens!
About Marybeth Bock:
Marybeth Bock, MPH, is a Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor, and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing – as long as iced coffee is involved. Her work can be found on numerous websites and in two books. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.