So this Christmas is going to be different, whatever happens. Usually, one of the best things about the festive season is having your family with you without your teens rushing around to school, work, extra-curricular commitments or out with their friends. This year that’s not going to be quite such a novelty…
We’re spending a little extra time planning games and activities this year, so that we have a few surprises planned and plenty of ideas to keep everyone busy, and happy being together. It’s not usually easy with teens, but we’re always optimistic!
When ours were younger, we had a wooden Christmas tree advent calendar made up of 24 empty drawers. It was beautiful but the drawers were tiny. So we went through a stage of writing daily ‘clues’ for the kids to work out together in order to find that day’s prize. This was usually a chocolate coin each, although there were a few bigger prizes scattered through the month. Every year I said “I will write and print 24 clues before December 1st and have those and the prizes carefully organised.” Every year I ended up frantically scrambling to do it day by day. Sometimes I even woke up in the night in a cold sweat, as I’d totally forgotten, and ended up just ramming coins into the drawer in desperation.
Anyway, what it did teach us was how much the kids loved a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt and how much fun it was to see them working together to work out the clues. It’s an idea that works for any age and, if we get our act together, we’ll be creating a special 2020 Christmas treasure hunt to do as a family on Boxing Day 🙂
A twist on this (and significantly easier to plan!) is a selfie challenge. Print out a list of items that everyone has to find and take a selfie with, either in a set period of time (an hour works best) or over the course of a few days, if the list is more ambitious. Perfect for a Christmas theme and great fun. You can award bonus points for the quality of the pics too!
We’re all total pros at these now but they’re still as much fun as they were at the beginning of lockdown. There are all sorts of brilliant quizzes that you can find online, so you’re bound to find one that’s just right for your family. We very much hope we can do these in teams around the table rather than via Zoom. But if you can’t get everyone together, then dress up, get your drinks and nibbles ready and do at least one Christmas activity together online. Our teens love logic puzzles and brain teasers too.
We’ve loved playing Among Us with our teens (although we’re still slightly scarred by the helpless laughter as they followed us around watching us bump off the walls). Playing the same game apps is a fantastic way to connect with your teen. We’ve been there with Clash of Clans, Dragon Village and FarmVille 2 over the years. Christmas, when you have more downtime, is a perfect time to do it. Just don’t get too hooked!
If you’re really brave, you can suggest you get a lesson on the PS4 or Xbox. It’s incredibly positive for your teens to be the ones teaching you something for a change. With online gaming proving to be good for wellbeing (as we’ve been suggesting all along!) embrace it, don’t fight it!
Spot the difference
Another oldie but goodie. These are perfect to play with a mix of ages and, again, they’re easy to find online at all different levels.
We’ve played them all through 2020, but they’re still a big part of Christmas. You might need to plan ahead and get a couple of new games to play this year, though, that you’re not all already bored with. We recommend Blockbuster for sheer fun with teens and Codenames as a great game to play in a group (we’re thinking positive here!) that’s quick and super entertaining. Both are widely available from independent toy stores.
One of our top suggestions for a gift for teenagers is a poker set, especially a travel set that can go on school trips and family holidays. They always go down brilliantly and getting the family involved in poker nights is usually a winner. It’s something that little bit different for the family to do together that 100% passes the cool test.
Escape room games
Last but not least, teens love escape room games and there are plenty of games to play at home. The Exit range is a great stocking filler idea and there are also lots of online options such as Evadere. Even the most world-weary teen won’t be able to resist joining in with enthusiasm!
We hope this gives you plenty of inspiration. If you’re still looking for ideas, why not try a nostalgic go at some games they loved in the past? We’re thinking Singstar and Buzz! music quiz on the PS2 and of course the Wii for Mario Kart, Wii Sports and (top fave here) Board Game Island. It might not quite be the same experience as the new PS5 but if you’ve managed to get your hands on one of those, you don’t need to be reading this at all anyway!
As always, we’d love to hear from you. If you’ve got any great suggestions for games and activities, old or new, please do leave us a comment!
Louise & Anna