Christmas has become a challenge this year. The non-emotional elements, like baking a cake, buying and wrapping presents, has been fine. But it hasn’t got us feeling very festive. One thing we’ve not done this year is take the children to visit Santa. Why? Because they say they are too old. They are believers, but know that the Santa at the garden centre is a stand-in ‘fake’ … and he’s too babyish, apparently. It was only when I started to look into more ‘grown up’ Christmas events that I realised it wasn’t going to be that easy. How do we keep the spirit of Christmas alive, when the children are too old to visit Santa?
I have some suggestions – and would welcome yours!
I’ve listed this first, but in my book it should be a last resort … I hate pantomimes (ohhh yes I do!) But I know children love the slapstick humour, and older children will ‘get’ a lot more of the adult-focused jokes. I’ve not put it to the test, but could a pantomime make my children laugh? (They usually look so miserable!)
Ice Skating or an Ice Show
Tomorrow, I’m taking my two to see Pinocchio on Ice. This is a first as we’ve never seen an ‘on ice’ show before. It might be more suitable for younger children, but it’s a new experience and I hope they enjoy it. Alternatively, there’s ice skating. Lots of towns are getting pop-up rinks this year I’ve noticed – this could be good fun (hopefully there’ll be no broken bones!)
When the children were younger, I took them to see The Snowman on stage in London. It was rather magical, especially when the characters started to fly. A show, like this year’s big hit Nativity!, would be a lot of fun for both adults, teens and children alike. If you can’t get tickets for a show, then many cinemas bring back some festive and retro films during December.
I took the children to Bury St Edmunds Christmas Market earlier this month. We arrived really early and spent half a day walking around all the stalls – they both really enjoyed it. They took their own money, and bought some small gifts for friends – and themselves.
But by lunchtime they’d had enough, and we headed home. As well as the shopping, they had a festive crepe and rode on a carousel. What more could a teenager want?!
Usually I’m left alone while I make three Christmas cakes (for family and friends). This year the children helped; they weighed out all the fruit, measured the booze for soaking the fruit, then helped mix and cook the cakes the following day.
I might even let them decorate them … If not a cake, then what about a gingerbread house, covered in sweets? We’re going to make one of those this weekend!
Go on an Adventure
This is something we started to do a few years ago. On the evening that the children break up from school, until around Christmas Eve, we head off ‘somewhere’ in our car, with the dogs too! We’ve been to the French Alps in search of snow, to the Black Forest in search of an authentic gateaux, to Grenoble to visit some genuine locals Christmas markets. And last year we spent three days on the Isle of Wight, visiting all their festive events. We’ve nothing planned this year yet … we’d best get booking!
Of course, there are other things too … The children could get more involved putting up the tree and decorating the house. They could write Christmas cards for neighbours, family friends and relatives, freeing up a parent to do something else. My daughter sings with a group and in her school choir – her group performed Christmas songs at a recent town Lights Switch On ceremony; her choir will be singing in a school concert next week; with their festive jumpers on, we should start to feel Christmassy once and for all!
Mandi, from Big Family Organised Chaos, told me that in their family, it’s always been the job of the teens to make Christmas magical for the younger ones. Her children love joining in with reading stories and hanging the stockings and helping them to believe … so it is still as much fun. With regard to visiting Santa, Mandi recommends visiting ones that include a train ride or a boat trip … there’s a few near where she lives in Norfolk … as these are geared towards older children.
Janet’s children play musical instruments. They usually get invited to join in to Christmas musical events, like school concerts and music school concerts. They are also often asked to join in a church Christmas orchestra or carol singing. I agree with Janet in that playing Christmas music certainly helps bring the magic. She’s not yet managed to persuade them to play at home on Christmas Day though!
Do you have teenage children? How do you keep the spirit of Christmas alive? Let us know in the comments below x