teenage girl in snow (keeping Christmas magic alive for older kids)

This year, my kids have Christmas lists filled with expensive electronics, makeup, and sneakers. They’re 11 and 13 now, and I miss the days when they were excited by stuffed animals and Matchbox cars. That said, this new stage doesn’t have to mean the end of Christmas magic. Even though they may not admit it, our older kids still long for that magic — like we all do. And there are plenty of ways to keep the Christmas magic alive with older kids. Here’s how:

Have older kids help spread the magic to younger siblings 

Nothing makes kids feel as “grown up” as being included in keeping the Christmas spirit alive for little ones. They can help move elves, decorate cookies, make crafts, and read Christmas books. Seeing the excitement in the younger kids will help reignite their Christmas spirit.

Hold on to traditions 

Traditions might be making ornaments, baking cookies, decorating gingerbread houses, watching certain Christmas movies, or driving around looking at lights. Having a tradition to look forward to and enjoy as a family makes the holidays extra special. Maintaining traditions from when your kids were little will remind them of magical memories. It’s also never too late to come up with new ones! I’m trying a new tradition this year: the Christmas pickle. The Christmas pickle is an ornament hidden on the tree on Christmas Eve, and whoever finds it first on Christmas morning gets to open the first present. 

Enjoy the season yourself

The holidays can be chaotic and stressful — with too much to do and not enough time — but getting into the spirit yourself will help your kids get excited. Find whatever brings you joy — and stop for an hour or two to do it. Focus on the little things, whether it’s baking, watching a movie, crafting, or simply gazing at the twinkling lights on the tree while sipping a hot beverage (or glass of wine). Christmas magic is contagious!

Play Christmas music

Buddy the Elf said it best: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” Play that Christmas music proudly — and sing along! Your kids may roll their eyes and act like they don’t like it, but I bet they each have a favorite song that makes them feel that Christmas spirit — even Taylor Swift has a holiday album.

Make Christmas crafts

You’re never too old for crafting. There are so many ideas for Christmas crafts, and now that your kids are older they can do them more independently (and hopefully not cover the house in glitter and glue). They could help create a centerpiece for the table, decorate ornaments, or make homemade gifts their friends and family members may actually use.

Countdown with advent calendars

An advent calendar, where you open a little surprise each day for 12 or 24 days, is a fun way to add some anticipation for Christmas. There are so many cool advent calendars that will appeal to older kids. Whether your kid is a skincare fanatic, Lego lover, or candy connoisseur, there is something for everyone. You could also make a simple homemade advent calendar and fill it with chocolates.

Embrace the spirit of giving

There are so many options in and around Boston for giving back this holiday season. Include your kids in deciding how they want to help their community. It could be as simple as donating a toy for Toys for Tots or creating toiletry kits for the Pine Street Inn. Many organizations are open to volunteers year round, which could lead to more opportunities for your family to spend time together while helping others.

Hang onto every bit of Christmas magic you can!

Ranessa Doucet
Ranessa is a Boston native who grew up in Charlestown and never gets tired of exploring the city. She now lives north of Boston with her husband, two kids, and two mischievous pugs. Ranessa earned her master’s degree in elementary education and licensure in early childhood education. She currently works as an Academic Interventionist and Freelance Writer. Ranessa loves writing about parenting tweens, exploring New England, health, and self-care. When not writing or reading, you can find her watching reality TV, eating chocolate, attending her kids’ sporting events, and dreaming about the beach.