Let’s face it.  Most teenagers would rather be doing their own thing than sitting down playing charades with the family.  So how do you get your teens involved in family Christmas activities?  I have 12 holiday activities to try on your family Christmas break that teenagers may actually tolerate. *Disclaimer: all teenagers are different so results are not guaranteed 🙂

I’ve created a printable Christmas Activity Planner to help you plan your Christmas Activities Teenagers Will Tolerate.  Just sign up for my email newsletter, Dishful Thinking, and receive the activity bundle for free!  

*DISCLOSURE: I only recommend products that I would use myself. This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may get a commission if you make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my Disclosure for more information.

"Christmas Lights" in the center of a Christmas wreath with candy canes and red ornaments on a black background

1. Looking at Christmas Lights

How can you make driving around looking at Christmas lights more enjoyable for your teens?

Nothing could be more boring for teens than having to sit in the backseat with their siblings while Mom and Dad cart them around all over town looking for the best Christmas decorations.

Here’s an idea if they are old enough, let them drive. 

Need another option? How about stopping for a fancy coffee or tea to take along on the ride? 

Or if you’re feeling really adventurous, try stopping and taking selfies in front of your favorite decorations, close up or from the sidewalk (*Do this at your own risk!*). 

Use the Light-Seeing Route Planner page in Christmas Activity Planner to sketch out where you want to visit to see the best lights.

Christmas Light-Seeing Planner page with green striped border

"Scavenger Hunt" in the center of a Christmas wreath with candy canes and red ornaments on a black background

2. Scavenger Hunt

These are fun and cute and all.  But to get your teen to be a willing participant with minimal eye-rolls, there had better be a really good prize for the winner. 

Besides that, make sure your scavenger hunt includes things you may actually find. For example, most scavenger hunts aren’t tailored for people who live in the south.  You will be hard pressed to find any real snow, icicles, or people wearing mittens. 

Download the Christmas Activity Planner and use the Scavenger Hunt page to list the items you want to search for.

Christmas Scavenger Hunt planner page with checklist and green striped border

"Christmas Music" in the center of a Christmas wreath with candy canes and red ornaments on a black background

3. Christmas Music

I know very few teenagers who enjoy listening to Christmas music, especially the old, overplayed songs.

Have a competition to see who can go the longest without hearing a specific song.  We played this with the song, “Last Christmas”.  I lost on Day 1.  

Create your own lyrics to your least favorite Christmas song.  Create a group text with your family.  Start with the beginning of a song and have let everybody fill in the blank. Like: “It’s beginning to look a lot like ____.” Rule number one: “Yo Mama” can’t be the answer every time. 

Use the list of songs in the Christmas Activity Planner to help get you started. 

List of Christmas Songs with green striped border

"Christmas Movies" in the center of a Christmas wreath with candy canes and red ornaments on a black background

4. Christmas Movies

This may be one of the easiest traditions to continue with your kids as they get older.  Most won’t mind sitting with the family, watching a timeless classic, like “Elf”. Or, if you don’t have any younger children hanging in the room with you, you can start introducing the more PG-13 or nontraditional Christmas movies, like “Die Hard”. Here’s a list of 25 Unconventional Christmas Movies from Parade.

Use the Christmas Movies list in the Christmas Activity Planner to keep up with the movies you watch.  You can rate them as you watch them.

Whatever you choose to watch, just make sure to have some good snacks.  Good food makes most activities better and you know they are always hungry.  Try my favorite Cajun Popcorn recipe.

Christmas Movies checklist with 5 star ratings to color in

"Games" in the center of a Christmas wreath with candy canes and red ornaments on a black background

5. Games

Saran wrap game
If you have more than one child, a group of family members, or a group of friends, the saran wrap game is hilarious and enjoyable for kids of all ages (including adults).

Just make sure the prizes are worth all the frustration of trying to get tiny objects out of layers of the most evil product in the kitchen.

You can find the official rules and optional activities at SaranWrapBall.com.

Read about even more games in this article: 20 Fun Christmas Games for Teens from Christmas.365greetings.com.

Cash is always a good prize.

Use the Game planner page in the Christmas Activity Planner to help plan your games and prizes.

Christmas Games planner checklist with green striped border

 

"Food" in the center of a Christmas wreath with candy canes and red ornaments on a black background

6. Cooking or Baking

Cooking is a fun activity and you get to clean out your pantry for the new year 🙂 Win-Win!  Here are some ideas for cooking activities you can do with your teens on your winter holiday break:

  1. Let them decide what to cook. 
  2. Try a “Chopped” Christmas edition.  You can do snacks, meals, or sweet treats.  There is no limit to the options you and your teens have for this activity. If you aren’t familiar with the show “Chopped”, the Frugal Minimalist Kitchen has a great post on How to do a Chopped at Home Challenge
  3. If you’ve read any of my food posts, you’ll know that I always begin my food searches with the Pioneer Woman.  It is no different when planning for Christmas snacks my family will love.  Here is a gallery of the 25 Best Christmas Snacks from Ree.  
  4. Choose recipes from other countries. 

Whatever you decide to cook, make a plan to share if there is any extra.  This could double as a service project.

Download the Christmas Activity Planner and use the Christmas Eats page as a grocery list so you don’t forget anything.  

Christmas food planner with green striped border

"Make Something" in the center of a Christmas wreath with candy canes and red ornaments on a black background

7. Christmas Teen Crafts

Crafts for teenagers are as varied as the emotions they feel on a daily basis.  

Take inventory of what you have and what you need using the Craft Planner page in the Christmas Activity Planner. 

Christmas Crafts planner with supply checklist and green striped border

12 Christmas Activities Teenagers Will Tolerate with red Christmas ornaments, candy canes, and green tree branches around the border
"Serve Others" in the center of a Christmas wreath with candy canes and red ornaments on a black background

8. Christmas Service Project Ideas

Yeah, I know this one may receive some push back, but getting them involved in helping others is a life skill that many are missing these days. Our self absorbed lifestyles tend to exclude others, especially those who are different from us, whether on purpose or not. Be the change you want to see in the world. 

Create Family Volunteering holidays where you spend time helping or doing something for others.  Here are some great Christmas service projects for teenagers to get involved in that you may not have thought about. 

  1. Babysit for a family so they can finish their shopping.
  2. Wrap presents for someone.
  3. Be the pickup person for online orders.
  4. Go grocery shopping for a neighbor or grandparent. 
  5. Help a neighbor with their decorations, putting them up and taking them down.
  6. Hand deliver Christmas cards to a nursing home or older neighbors. 
  7. Volunteer to clean a teacher’s classroom.
  8. Help a neighbor do yard work.  We may not have snow in the south, but man do we have a lot of leaves that need to be raked. 
  9. Do a closet cleanout and donate clothes. 
  10. Send “Happy Holiday” messages on all of those social media apps. 

Need more ideas? Read 11 Fun Holiday Service Ideas from Newdream.org.

Use the Christmas Service Projects planner page to list ways for you and your teens to get involved this year. 

Christmas Service Projects planner page with green striped border

"Early Gifts" in the center of a Christmas wreath with candy canes and red ornaments on a black background

9. Open an Early Gift

Opening Christmas presents early can get anyone excited for the holidays.

Advent Calendars bring a little daily excitement.  There are so many to choose from.  Check out our favorite Advent Calendars.

Or, try building a Christmas Eve Box for your kids to open, you guessed it, on Christmas Eve.  Read about what you can include in a Christmas Eve Box for Teenagers.

Use the Christmas Eve Box planning page in the Christmas Activity Planner to keep up with items you want to include in the box for each of your kids.

Christmas Eve Box planning page with green striped border

"Shopping" in the center of a Christmas wreath with candy canes and red ornaments on a black background

10. Go Shopping

Do you like shopping with your teens? If so, go with them to pick out gifts for their friends or family members. Make a fun day out of it. 

If they can drive, let your older teens do some of the shopping by themselves. And then recruit them to wrap the gifts!

Let them shop for themselves, wrap them, and put them under the tree without showing you. Then it’s like a reverse surprise! You’ll be the one anxious to see what’s under the tree. And they’ll get something they want. 

Need a place to keep up with all those gifts?  Use the Christmas Shopping list in the Christmas Activity Planner. 

Christmas Shopping list with green striped border

"Alone Time" in the center of a Christmas wreath with candy canes and red ornaments on a black background

11. Alone Time

This may be a novel idea, but let them have their space. If they are in school, they’ve just spent the last semester taking orders from teachers every day, all day (I’m one of those teachers).

Give them a break.

I hear kids talk about their parents all the time. It has given me some pretty good insights into how I want to parent my own children. They complain about getting nagged and forced to do what they don’t want to do and don’t find value in. 

It’s a hard balance but aren’t most things in life?

You look forward to spending time with them and they just want some chill time. Don’t take it personally.

Make specific plans to spend time together and give them some some space to enjoy their free time. 

"Free Choice" in the center of a Christmas wreath with candy canes and red ornaments on a black background

12. Let Them Choose

Let them pick an activity.  There are so many other activities you can do with your teens depending on their interests or what is available where you live.

Give some parameters or let them have free reign.

Don’t complain about their choice and participate enthusiastically.

Respond to their ideas the way you want them to respond to yours. Be the example.

Use the Christmas Calendar in the Christmas Activity Planner to set dates for activities. Hang it where everyone can see what they have to look forward to next. 

Christmas Calendar page with green striped border

Final Thoughts on Holiday Activities Teenagers Will Tolerate

 I hope you have found some ideas you and your teens can enjoy together this year. Let me know in the comments if there are activities that I’ve left off or what your favorite activities are. Happy Holidays!

Don’t forget to get your free Christmas Activity Planner!

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Hi! I'm Misty, the imperfect Mama behind Life Between the Dishes.  My goal is for you to find tools, tips, and resources here to help you maintain sanity through daily mom life!

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