I have talked at length about our Christmas Eve celebrations, games, food, and tradition. One newer tradition that we began a few years ago with all of our olders (who are now all olders!) is the Pass and “Steal” Grab Bags.
One of the most popular classic Christmas stories that we have read and/or listened to as a family quite often through the years is O.Henry’s Gift of the Magi. In this story, a young, poverty stricken married couple give up each one’s greatest possession in order to get the other person a Christmas gift. It is heart-warming and embraces the true meaning of sacrificial giving.
One of our favorite Christmas traditions is reading aloud from Christmas stories.
We have done this for so many years that we have a handful of them that we try to read whenever some of the grown kids are over during December–and especially on our family Christmas decorating night and Christmas Eve. (Many of our favorites are in Joe Wheeler’s “Christmas Stories From the Heart” books.)
One thing that draws high school and college kids like nothing else is food. Seriously. Food. Especially boys.
As I’ve already mentioned, preparing and/or buying kids’ favorite foods and treats is a great way to their hearts. Smile (See Kids’ Faves worksheets available here for free!)
And, as I’ve already mentioned in our “Continue With Earlier Traditions,” we always invite all of the kids over for our decorating night Thanksgiving weekend.
Here are some tips from our decorating night:
Christmas with college and adult kids can easily turn into a fiasco if family members are not careful to put other people first. Selflessness is the key to family harmony at all ages—but especially with college and adult kids simply because when someone has a bad attitude or is selfish, parents really have no recourse with grown kids. (It’s not like you’re going to send a twenty-four year old to his room!)
My advice for this is not going to be the most helpful for families with grown kids THIS Christmas. But families with younger children really need to grasp the idea that whatever is happening in your home among siblings now is likely not going to magically go away when they are adults.
Plastic wrap prizes! Several have asked how we do this activity, so here is a somewhat-clear description! (The pics are a little grainy in our living room that night!)
One thing that I highly recommend as you prepare for Christmas with teens and adults is that you try to make new memories…that you try to do things that are applicable to their ages. Yes, we definitely continue some of the earlier traditions. But we’ve also added new ones that are more age-appropriate. One of those is plastic wrap prizes.
This activity could be in lieu of stockings, Christmas Eve PJs, piñatas, etc. It is a ton of fun for teens and adults. With younger kids, there’s always a danger of some disappointment if they get Chapstick or antacids (lol!), but with teens and adults, it is all just good fun. Lots of laughs. Lots of usable items. And more family unity than you would think, LOL!
My husband loves to do clever things all the time—pranks on the kids, jokes, etc. He also likes to do special things for the kids—and let them know that he was thinking of them. (Not just that Mom thought of a special thing and had him “sign on” for it!) I love this about him, and it makes our kids feel so well-parented by BOTH parents.
One of the things that I love about our adult children having such close relationships is when they ask for group gifts (still!).
It is not uncommon for them to ask for things like these:
1. Restaurant gift cards to a place that they all want to go to together but that the college kids couldn’t afford without a gift card.
One of the ways that we make our Christmas Eve super special is through special gifts and games (besides the traditions from long ago of singing carols, reading Christmas stories, and having the sibling gift exchange). Our Christmas Eve is a full evening of food, fun, fellowship, worship, reflecting, reminiscing, and play!
In the past few years as our family has grown, we could no longer fit around the table for Uno, Kemps, or Pit, so Ray did some research on group games and discovered something called “Minute to Win It” (we have been without television for years…and only in the past few with Netflix and Hulu do we know what’s out there! LOL). Anyway, he found things online, our daughter found some things for him on Pinterest, and he was off with new Christmas Eve traditions—Minute to Win It games.
In a previous blog post, I discussed the importance of finding out those traditions that mean a lot to your college and adult kids so that they do not feel left out of the things you are doing in your home – especially the things that you used to do when they were little. In another post, I talked about the invitation versus obligation. (Read that here…that’s important!)
This post will focus on the latter. We try to continue many traditions with our high school kids and our college kids living at home, but at the same time, we don’t want to leave out the adult children who are away from home–or impose upon them either. This is a fine balance. Because of this, we recommend that you invite them to some of those things, but be sure that they do not see those things as obligations.