10 Fun Holiday Traditions To Start With Your Teen

Family time fun that will have your teen wanting to stick around.

By Rebecca Plaisance, Publisher of Macaroni KID South Charlotte, N.C. and Kyrie Collins, Publisher of Macaroni KID Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree, Colo. December 12, 2022

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 other interests often monopolize their time during school breaks.

Now is a great time to start some fun traditions that will get your teens excited about hanging out with you at home. With any luck, these traditions will become something they look forward to next year and beyond!

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1. Homemade Gifts for the Holidays

Spend an afternoon making gifts that you can distribute to your extended family, friends, neighbors or anyone who you spends time with over the holidays. Some ideas:  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! Macaroni Tip:  Youtube is filled with how-to videos.

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 holiday movies.

4. Have a Gingerbread House Build Contest

Make your own from scratch, get some gingerbread house kits from the store or make it more challenging and use graham crackers. See who can make the most outrageous, the most colorful, the most creative - well you get the idea. Here's an idea: This 'Gingerbread' Contest an Affordable and Fun Family Tradition.

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. Another options is to by a kit like Make A Plate®, I still  have and use the ones my kids made in Mommy and me class years ago.

6. Holiday Breakfast

Put your teens in charge of breakfast for Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year's Day or just because. 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 afterwards.

7. Cruz for Holiday Lights

Pile into the car- maybe in your new PJs? and drive around Oak Park, Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Malibu or nearby to look at lights together.

8. Tune Time

Let your teens make a dinner or holiday playlist. They will love sharing their music with you!

kate-sept2004 from Getty Images signature via Canva

9. Start a Family Competition

Come up with different activities to compete in: play a board game, cornhole, darts, trivia, hula hoop, or Minute-to-Win-It games. Have a prize for the winners like gift cards, holiday socks, etc., don't forget a penalty for the losers like push-ups, eating super sour candy or something super spicy, etc.

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. Updated and edited by Brenna Gutell, publisher of Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas.