Christmas is easy when they’re little isn’t it. They believe everything is magical and, although it’s physically exhausting, you really don’t have to think very hard. But then they grow, their wishes are for bigger things and yet they still dream of the magic so I’ve been thinking hard about how to have a fun Christmas with teenagers.
My boys are utterly resistant to anything changing. For them, Christmas is steeped in tradition and last week we had to break it to them that now that the youngest is nearly as tall as I am, we are probably going look a bit daft if we make our usual visit to Santa’s grotto, deep in the local caves!
Anyway, one of the lovely things about writing this blog over the last few Christmases has been hearing about all your different traditions in the comments. The only trouble has been that by the time we’ve discussed it, it’s been too late to share ideas so I thought I’d start early this year. This is what happens in our house.
How to have a fun Christmas with teenagers
I get all of my preparation out of the way on 23rd because for us, Christmas Eve always means a trip to the Panto. Each year we go through the same charade. It begins with me looking shocked when they ask which Panto we’re seeing and pretending that I’ve forgotten to book the tickets. Then we set off to an unknown destination with the boys trying to work out which big city it will be. Of course now that their geography is better it is less entertaining than it used to be but the middle one can usually be relied on to suggest a town he’s heard of but never been to – somewhere like Exeter or Aberdeen.
Lunch is always at Pizza Express and we use the many Tesco vouchers that we have accrued through the year which means nothing on the menu is off limits. At some point during the Panto, the eldest will get a shout out from the cast because he has just had a birthday. He will groan and pretend to be embarrassed whilst being secretly delighted (oh yes he is). We drive home through the dark playing Christmas music at full volume to find that the pyjama fairy has been whilst we are out leaving new PJs on everybody’s bed.
A helping hand for the pyjama fairy
These are amazing value and the children’s sizes go up to 16 but they’re selling out fast.
Cosy flannel at a great price…
Cooler options for people who live in warm houses!
Lovely silvery snowflakes on these
Nice options for men
…you can even festoon him in baubles…
…or go for a more sophisticated look…
…which have a top to go with them should he be slightly less sculpted than David Gandy!
So, back to Christmas Eve chez Midlifechic. The eldest then builds the angel chimes and we eat roast ham and salad by candlelight. I suspect that this year we will then wait desperately for them all to go to bed so that we can too. We will, of course, insist that they leave a plate out for Father Christmas if they expect him to do his magic – and looking at last year’s picture I suddently realise how much they’ve grown!
On Christmas morning the youngest still, so far, wakes his brothers early and we hear them all coming up the stairs into our room which is on the top floor. We yawn and stretch sadistically for a while, knowing that they are itching to go downstairs with the sacks that have been left outside their bedroom doors. As we go down, we grumble about the copious amounts of glitter that Father Christmas has left in his wake and which we will find between our toes throughout the year to come.
There is then a long established game of stealth that goes on as each of them tries to conceal a few presents from their sack without the rest of us noticing. The objective of this is to be the last one to have a gift to unwrap. It’s excruciating – my brother and I used to do it too. There is also the moment of truth when we see who has accrued the most potatoes, Father Christmas having replaced a gift with a potato for each bad deed he has spotted throughout the year.
We have croissants for breakfast and usually open our first bottle of champagne. Mr MC is no longer required for endless toy assembly so is free to join me in the kitchen as sous chef whilst I cook and sing along to Christmas carols. I’m not sure how pleased he is about that (especially the singing) but he puts on a brave face.
We have an Open House policy in the morning so people sometimes pop in for a glass of fizz before we close our doors at midday. I have a selection of glamorous glasses like these for those who feel particularly festive…
Now, I have a new plan for this which I began to test out last year. I was finding that now that we don’t have grandparents joining us, the meal was being wolfed down quickly by the boys so that they could get back to whatever they were doing.
When we had different generations with us for Christmas dinner, we used to brief everyone in advance that they would each be required to provide some entertainment. It used to work really well because they would spend time preparing their act in advance.
It was nearly always hilarious, involving bad jokes, bad dancing, bad singing or bad instrument playing. My big regret is that I didn’t video my mum’s last performance which was a beautiful telling of one of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, delivered in the way that only an Infant teacher with years of experience knows how.
This year we’re going to have games courses. So we’re having a canapé starter and, because I’m fed up of buying crackers with rubbish gifts that go straight in the bin, we’re having these which have whistles and a music sheet to play so that we can create our own orchestra.
Glitter crackers 20% off with code AP520
This year I also have these matching confetti rockets which, along with Father Christmas’s glitter, could push Mr OCD MC right over the edge…
…they include a moustache each so with those, the cracker hats and the novelty specs we’re going to be looking rather splendid!
The lazy laundress in me has bought paper napkins…
Silver stag napkins (also available in copper)
…we were given some very elaborate cut crystal glasses that we don’t use for drinking but which look pretty with tea lights inside. I’ll then be scattering these silver snowflakes around them…
Silver scatter snowflakes 40% off
…and interspersing them with tiny star fairy lights. It’s easy and it means there’s still plenty of space to put the serving dishes on the table.
To break up the sea of white and silver I’m planning to order some blood red amaryllis which I’ve found for a great price here. They’re too big to have on the table for Christmas Dinner but they will make a dramatic statement for the rest of the time.
So, when we’ve finished making beautiful music, we’ll move onto the main course and once that is over, we’ll take a food break, This year we’re going to play ‘Would You Rather?’ which is a game that the boys were crazy about a few summer holidays ago.
You’ll know how it goes, you simply put lots of difficult choices into a hat and you pick one by turn, posing your question to the person on your left. That person makes their choice and explains why, which then often leads to a great discussion. If you fancy playing it, these are the quandaries I’ve pulled together for this year:
Would You Rather?
- Have everything you’ve ever wanted but die in one year’s time or live a long life as it is panning out now
- Live one life that lasts 1,000 years or live 10 lives that last 100 years each
- Never have a shower for the rest of your life or never brush your teeth for the rest of your life
- Have unlimited respect or unlimited power
- Keep a special memory from the past or lose something important from the future
- Never touch another human again or never touch a computer powered device again
- Be blind or deaf
- Use eye drops made of vinegar or toilet paper made from sandpaper
- Have no arms or have no legs
- Be caught in a tsunami or a volcano
- Be super strong or super fast
- Live in Narnia or go to school at Hogwarts
- Have horrible acne that is only on areas that are covered with clothing or moderate acne that’s only on your face
- Be in constant pain or have a constant itch
- Surf in shark-infested waters or jump free fall with a parachute into the Grand Canyon
- Own a yacht or a plane
- Have friends that are smarter than you or friends that are much better looking than you
- Be 4’5″ or 7’7″
- Be the first to die among your close friends and family or the last
- Be famous for your dancing or famous for your singing
- Be stuck in a home that is constantly dark or constantly bright
- Have to use a public toilet that is extremely dirty and dark or one that has a snake in it
- Be able to fly or be invisible
- Live around a noisy neighbour or a barking dog
- Wear a snow suit in the desert or be naked in Antarctica
- Stay forever at your current age or be 10 years younger
- Let it go or get even
- Be the best player on a rubbish team or the worst player on a great team
- Lose your sense of taste or your sense of smell
- Spend one year sailing around the world or one year living in your favourite foreign country
- Have the ability to see ten years into your own future or six months into the future of the world
- Never laugh again or never use your smartphone again
- Be stranded on an island with someone you hate or be stranded on an island alone
- Have a third eye or a third ear
- Be a master of every musical instrument or be fluent in every language
- Always have to skip everywhere or run everywhere
- Live life in a small submarine at the bottom of the sea or in a small space capsule in outer space
- Have a time machine that only goes back in time or a time machine that only goes forward in time
- Have the power to end war in the world or the power to end poverty
- Live on a houseboat or in a cabin in the mountains
- Have the ability to read other people’s minds or the ability to see into the future
- Never eat your favourite food for the rest of your life, or only be able to eat your favourite food
- Be rich doing a job you hate or be poor doing a job you love
- Have one wish granted today or three wishes granted five years from now
- Have a rhino’s horn or a squirrel’s tail
- Play a villain or a hero in a movie
- Have unlimited love or unlimited money
- Have a luxury two-bedroom apartment in a big city of your choice or a mansion in the countryside
- Go to jail for a year or be homeless for a year
- Save the life of 5 old people or one child
Phew! Once we’ve made our way through those, it will be time for dessert if we aren’t too full (we’re not too keen on Christmas pudding)
followed by a rather large cracker…
and then a few last quick fire games. I find it’s often best to have a few different boxes so that each person can answer from one that makes them happy.
But if you prefer something more niche, there are loads of table games to choose from here. Here’s Mr MC doing charades last year. It’s a book and a movie, can you guess? Alfie obviously wasn’t in the mood to play.
So after dinner, it’s time for gifts under the tree. I know lots of you were alarmed when I mentioned on Instagram last year that we only open a present when the clock bongs on each half hour. In fact I think some people were ready to call Childline but it’s just how we’ve always done it and it means the presents last until the evening.
Actually Mr MC and I aren’t buying each other Christmas presents this year because there really isn’t anything we need so instead, we’re going to put some money into an adventure fund in anticipation of next year’s Project Happier (which includes my rather big birthday).
And so our day will go on, like most other people’s, with cheese and port at 6pm and then hopefully something good on TV. I’m delighted to discover that M&S are now stocking my favourite gin which we have previously had to order specially. I find it is softer with less juniper than other gins.
Monkey 47, currently on special offer
On Boxing Day we play Hare and Hounds with our friends. We split into two groups, usually men/boys and women/girls. The men set off with chalk and sand, laying a trail. After a while we follow and try to catch them before they reach their destination which, astoundingly, always seems to be one of the two village pubs! Later on we’ll dine on Bubble and Squeak with the leftover meat and then we will probably do absolutely nothing for a couple of days.
So, I hope that might have given you a few ideas of how to have a fun Christmas with teenagers but I’m intrigued to hear about your Christmas traditions. Please do share them in the comments, I’m sure we’re all keen to pick up new ones. In the meantime…
The UK Blog Awards
Firstly if you have voted, thank you, it’s the best Christmas present I could have. If you haven’t had a chance yet, please, please do. There are over 200 of us in the running but about 98% are under 30 so will have legions of social followers. It will be reduced to a shortlist of 8 purely based on the number of reader votes. I need you!
Our generation is heading into a rapidly changing future and we have no idea of what our old age will look like. There may come a day when we need to be able to raise our voices and we will be here, as an army, ready for action. If we can get this kind of recognition for our midlife community, people will start to take us more seriously. It will take you less than 10 seconds to do, this takes you straight to my page.
The Winter Sales
They are starting already, the brands are getting desperate because interestingly, no-one is buying party dresses. I was always trained to analyse these things and I suspect that the mood of the nation, the zeitgeist, is for a low key Christmas this year. We have lost so many iconic people globally as well as having a few political shocks that it feels as though loud and dressy celebrations are not what anyone wants. As a result, the sales are going to be quite big so, as they come in, I’ll list the best ones here:
Jaeger – this is really worth a look. There are some great bargains especially amongst the jersey tops and the bags. Remember how we talked earlier in the season about how easy it is to rev up a simple outfit by using a coloured clutch or bag? There are some great options here.
Boden has up to 40% off which means they will probably be going into their main Winer Sale in about 10 days’s time. They usually plan for it to start as soon as the last Christmas postage date has gone. However they often open it at 20% so, if you like something that has 40% off now, go for it.
Warehouse: up to 30% off party wear
Mint Velvet: party wear and footwear
The White Company: 20% off everything plus free delivery with code AP392