Many families create Christmas traditions around childish delights, such as the Elf on the Shelf, cartoon movies, or picture books about jolly ol’ St. Nick. But what happens when the kids grow older? Perhaps it’s time to find more mature ways of celebrating Christmas joy. Here are some new family traditions that appeal to the hearts of tweens.
Volunteer— Tweens are old enough to appreciate a variety of volunteer activities this time of year, from ringing bells for the Salvation Army to serving in soup kitchens to making tie blankets for nursing home residents and so much more. Find a volunteer opportunity your daughter can rally behind, and do it together.
Baking— Gone are the days when all your child could handle was tossing too many sprinkles on sugar cookie cutouts. Tweens love to bake, and Christmas brings a boatload of baking opportunities. Why not start a new tradition of searching for a new recipe to create every year? Allow your tween to take a full share of responsibility in mixing, baking and decorating your new treat.
Outdoor sports— As kids get older, it becomes easier to enjoy outdoor activities together such as ice skating, skiing, snowboarding and such. Start a new tradition of playing hockey together as a family on Christmas Eve, or taking a day trip to go snow shoeing over Christmas break.
Movie marathon— Now that your daughter is a tween, you’re no longer limited to animated films. Invite her to snuggle on the couch for an afternoon of sappy Hallmark Christmas movies, complete with popcorn and fuzzy slippers.
Ugly sweater competition— Go to the thrift store and give everybody in the family five dollars to buy (then decorate!) the ugliest Christmas sweater they can find. This is the perfect chance to use up some of those random craft supplies like fabric paint, bedazzle jewels, and pom poms.
Mary’s Song— Each year, challenge your daughter to memorize Mary’s Song in the Bible, Luke 1:46–55. Discuss what the verses mean and how they apply to your lives. As girls grow older, they will become more fascinated with the idea that Mary was near their own age when she conceived the baby Jesus, perhaps as young as 13 or 14.
Make music— If your daughter plays an instrument, invite her to play or sing Christmas carols for the family each year. Consider planning a short recital for guests if you host Christmas parties in your home.
Sibling gifts— Encourage siblings to choose a Christmas gift for one another, perhaps with money they earn through chores around the house. As kids grow older, their investment in one another can become more intentional and meaningful. Consider letting them open these gifts first, or separately, such as the night before your family gift celebration.
Pray— Finally, encourage your tween to pray for others this time of year, especially people who are hurting or in need. One fun tradition is to collect all the Christmas cards your family receives and pray for the people who sent them. Choose a few each night to pray over, and if you’re blessed with an abundance of cards, great! Keep the tradition going into January and all year round.