Happy Holidays with Teens

There is no doubt that children “make” the holidays. There is nothing like the smile on a child’s face, as they see all the Christmas lights lit up as you drive around your town – or the look of awe on their face Christmas morning, when they wake up to presents under the tree. But as our children move into the teen years, the Christmas season loses some of its awe and wonder…..if we let it!

It is true that we cannot turn back the clock, and we cannot stop our kids from outgrowing some of our holiday traditions. Let’s face it, it would look pretty funny seeing your 16 year-old sitting on Santa’s lap in the local mall. But with some planning, we can still make the Holiday Season special.

Every year, from the time my children were toddlers, in November I get out all my Advent materials, old Christmas calendars, and “idea” books for the Christmas season. I take a day and pour through them and pick out the activities that will suit my family for the coming holiday season. While you can keep some old traditions, you will find you need to give some up and add new ones that your teens will find enjoyable.

Below are some ideas to help you get started.

Deck the Halls
While your teens may not be as excited about getting the house decorated for the holidays as they used to be, this family tradition can still be a time to make memories and share a common bond.

Turn on the Christmas Music and decorate the house and tree together.
Even though they might not seem interested, insist that they be there for this one. This will set the mood for the whole holiday season. Do your best to find a time that everyone can be there and help with the “Hanging of the Greens”.

If you have a tradition of using an Advent Wreath and/or an Advent Calendar, I suggest you keep using it.
Even though they may seem a bit old, especially for the calendar, you’d be surprised how Teens will still enjoy it. In our family, I have a homemade Advent Calendar with pouches on each date to hold a special question regarding Christmas. The first one down to the breakfast table in the morning gets to read the message in the calendar for the day. You’d be surprised how my teens still compete to be the first one at the table!

Have your own Decoration Contest.
Have each teen decorate their room for the holidays, and then take a vote to see whose is the most creative.

Have your teens change the answering machine message to a holiday message of their choice.

Holiday Events
Teens may be too busy, or not very interested, in attending holiday events with the family. Here are some things that will likely strike their fancy – and remember to include their friends.

Christmas Shopping Trip to the Mall.
What teenager doesn’t like the mall? Take a car-load of teens to the mall for a Christmas Shopping Extravaganza. Be prepared for some silliness, and for letting them go off on their own for a while. Meet together in the food court for dinner before heading home.

Church Christmas Parties.
Again, encourage your teen to bring friends to these events.
Local Christmas Pageants/Programs. Support community Christmas programs. You will find many things of interest, but remember, your time with teenagers is limited. Choose the events that will be most enjoyable to everyone.

Coming up with exciting gifts for teenagers that don’t break the bank can be a real problem.

Set a budget and stick with it. Explain to your teens just what you will be spending and ask for lists that stay within the pre-set budget. They might only want one item that uses the whole amount of money set aside for them, but they will like it much more than a lot of little things that they don’t want.

Brain-storm with them for ideas for presents for their friends. This expense can eat up a lot of their own funds, so encourage them to be creative and bargain shoppers.

Open one present each on Christmas Eve.

As we move into the Holiday Season, let us remember the TRUE reason for Christmas, and let’s make sure our teens remember it also. It is not the gifts, or the lights, or tree. It’s not even family getting together or sharing our abundance with those less fortunate. While these have become an important part of our holiday tradition in America, we need to make sure we remember WHY we celebrate Christmas. We celebrate the birth of Jesus, God’s precious gift to us. According to John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave us His son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jesus is the real reason for the Season; let’s make sure we and our families honor Him this holiday season.

Set up a manger scene in the front yard.
Start a collection of manger scenes that can be given to your teenagers when they become adults, and move out on their own.

Attend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day church services together.
Listen to Christmas Carols and Christmas Hymns together in the house and in the car.
Make sure to read the Christmas Story in the Book of Luke.

Patricia Chadwick is a a freelance writer and has been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years. She is currently a columnitst in several online publications as well as editor of two email newsletters. Parents & Teens is a twice monthly newsletter geared to help parents connect with their teens. Subscribe at www.parentsandteens.com or by sending a blank email to: subscribe-parent-teen@xc.org. History’s Women is weekly online magazine highlighting the extraordinary achievements of women. Subscribe at www.historyswomen.com/subscribe.html or by sending a blank email to: subscribe-h-w@xc.org.

What do you think?