Keeping Christmas Magical For Older Children

Keeping Christmas Magical For Older Children - Tips from the International Elf Service

Keeping Christmas magical for older children is something all us Christmas lovers wish for. We have so much fun making Christmas as magical for them for as many years as we can, but then the inevitable time comes. How do you maintain that wonderful magical feeling you had when the kids were younger?

My own love of Christmas has never waned from childhood, and I find Christmas now, as a parent, even better than Christmas as a child. I suspect because you’re reading this, you never lost your feeling of Christmas magic either!

So how do you go about keeping Christmas magical for older children?  

Well, you keep up all those wonderful family traditions you already have, but just adapt some of them.  Your children are now makers of Christmas magic!  The most important thing hasn’t changed: Christmas is about doing things together, and doing things that are special to your family around Christmas time, with the anticipation of what is to come. Hit all their senses with the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas in an age appropriate way, and it will feel like Christmas. That’s where the magic of Christmas lies.

Here are some ideas…

Get them spreading some Christmas Magic for the younger ones and friends
They could be in charge of tracking where Father Christmas is on the Norad Santa Trackeryou could show them how you make snowy footprints by the fireplace and get them to nibble the carrot for the reindeer and ring sleigh bells while the little ones are having a bath …

Is there a friend of theirs or a family member (close or distant), that they’d like to give something special to, or do something for? Maybe anonymously? Thoughtfulness is a precious gift and very much in the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas PJ Party

… for their friends, or a ‘normal’ Christmas Party for both your and their friends.  It can be as simple as you like, or a Christmas cocktails and mocktail party.  Children love parties even more than adults do. This could be a fantastic family tradition and needn’t be expensive if everyone brings something to share.  To make it a tradition, pick a date that you have it on each year.

Firepit or BBQ in garden
How about decorating the garden with some ice bowls with candles in?  You could light a firepit in the garden, and enjoy hot chocolate while toasting marshmallows on the fire.

Such easy ways to make Christmas magical for older children. The inevitable may have happened, but Christmas magic lasts forever. Includes how to download Guides to Common Christmas Conundrums too.

Bathroom Lit By Candlelight
Now this is a really lovely thing to do.  Young children love it, older children love it, and adults love it. Surprise them on Christmas Eve by lighting candles and tea lights in the bathroom for them to find when they go up to clean their teeth.

Evening Outdoor Ice Skating
There are so many pop up outdoor ice rinks these days, and night skating is one of the most magical things.  It gets dark early, so it doesn’t need to be particularly late.  Many of them have food and drink stalls next to them for you to enjoy too.

Family Secret Santa
Give everyone an envelope with a name and £5 in. They choose, buy and wrap present and put it on the person’s place at the table before Christmas dinner. It’s a fun time to receive a present and everyone can try and guess who their Secret Santa is!

Family Christmas “Try Something New” Day
On the countdown to Christmas, do something as a family that you haven’t done before, and get them to help choose and organise it.  It could be anything, from going for a walk or bike ride along the canal, going to a new Christmas Market, or bowling, climbing or Go-Karting.  It may not sound ‘Christmassy’, but so many places have decorations up and music playing.

Winter Walk
…to collect greenery for making wreaths and garlands for stairs, table or mantelpiece.

Christmas Stockings
These are still fun at whatever age you get them.  Who doesn’t like to wake up to see a bunch of wrapped up surprises that weren’t there when they went to sleep??

Choosing & Wrapping Christmas Stocking Presents
Now you may decide you don’t want your non-believers helping you with this, but it could be a really lovely way for them to enjoy being Father Christmas themselves. Get them to point things out through the year they think their siblings will enjoy.

Keeping Christmas Magical Once They Don’t Believe - the magic of Christmas isn't over, and traditions you have as a family will keep it going on into adulthood. Tips from the International Elf Service

Give them special older kids privileges
They could stay up later on Christmas Eve than they have done, and all curl up and watch a later film together with too many snacks.  Mulled wine and mocktails as appropriate!

Christmas List
A part of Christmas is about anticipation and suspense. Rather than write a letter to Father Christmas, (or Santa), ask them to write a Christmas list and put it on the fridge.  The critical thing is to not tell them what they’re getting! No hints, nothing.

Christmas Market

Such easy easy to make Christmas magical for older children. The inevitable may have happened, but Christmas magic lasts forever. Includes how to download Guides to Common Christmas Conundrums too.

Such easy easy to make Christmas magical for older children. The inevitable may have happened, but Christmas magic lasts forever. Includes how to download Guides to Common Christmas Conundrums too.

Go once it’s dark.  It’s impossible not to enjoy these at that time of day, whatever age you are. Plan it, look forward to it and enjoy everything about it.  Have hot chocolate, mulled wine, churros and hot dogs.  Enjoy browsing through all the unusual items, and if you can, buy something that’s really caught their eye when they’re not looking, and surprise them with it on Christmas Day.

Games Afternoon
Although they may say they don’t want to play a game together, once they get going, families have a really good time.  The kids will remember these afternoons for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t have to be a board game, it could be showing them how to do a Cool Card Trick, or challenging them to a Riddle.  The important thing is to ear mark it as family time, where you do something together.  You can read more about Why Playing Games Over Christmas Is A Good Thing.

Christmas Baking
Is there something you’ve always made each year?  Do that. Together if possible, but rest assured they’ll lovethe familiar festive food and treats you make every year.

Peppermint Bark is one of Father Christmas' favourites, and is an absolute must for Christmas! Recipe here!

Absolutely gorgeous Gingerbread cookies that happen to be gluten free. So delicious and perfect for munching on while curled up on the sofa watching a Christmas movie.

How about Mince Pies, Peppermint Bark or Gingerbread (that happens to be gluten free)?


Christmas Carol Service, Concert or a Show
It doesn’t need to be a posh expensive one. There are all sorts of local concerts and productions around Christmas time, but do go as a family and try and make it something you do each year.

Cafe’s & Restaurants
The warm cosy buzz in these around Christmas is so lovely.  All the decorations are up and there’s a strong sense of community spirit and goodwill. What better than to sit with a steaming mug of something, in a warm friendly place that feels full of Christmas?

Christmas Eve Hampers
These really don’t need to be elaborate or expensive.  Pop in a pair of new pjs, (which no doubt they need anyway), the ingredients for hot chocolate, and a new book or Christmas Movie?

Do you have any tips on keeping Christmas magical for older children?

Do you have any well loved Christmas family traditions that you can recommend?  If so, please please leave them in a comment at the bottom of this post.

Lots and lots of Christmassy ideas over on my Pinterest Boards.

Have you seen …

Answers to Kids’ Tricky Questions About Father Christmas

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Hide them among the bills and junk mail, lay them on the table first thing in the morning, stashed among the toys, or snuggled up in their bed. You choose where your children find the letters, to create a magical family tradition the kids will love!


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  • Nessie
    September 23, 2018 AT 8:58 AM

    I always take mine to the new Christmas film at the cinema, come home and do a Christmas Eve buffet and watch another film

    • Elfie
      September 23, 2018 AT 11:58 AM

      Oh that sounds wonderful Nessie.

  • Sarah Swan
    November 8, 2017 AT 8:20 PM

    Lovely ideas. We always do Christmas baking, mince pies and biscuits. My children always get a new pair of pjs for Christmas Eve and we live watching Christmas films and drinking hot chocolate! Happy Christmas xx

    • Elfie
      November 9, 2017 AT 10:55 AM

      I’m yet to have my first mince pie of the year – I’m going to get some today!

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