Thanksgiving is a day for family, food and fun. But Thanksgiving with teenagers has the potential to be absolutely fabulous or a total nightmare, depending on how you handle the holiday.
Last Thanksgiving was not the greatest for our family. I had to beg my teens to put down their phones, leave their rooms and interact with the family. It was frustrating and quite frankly, embarrassing, for me.
My kids were bored and unhappy. I was angry because I felt like I had to do all the work myself. To sum it up, our last Thanksgiving with teenagers was a mess.
So this year, I decided to plan better and communicate in advance with the kids. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, I’m delegating several responsibilities to each of them. I’m hoping that by spreading the workload, the holiday will be more pleasant and a day to remember for the entire family.
I’m sure some of you have been in the same situation before so I wanted to share the tips and tricks that I will be utilizing this year. Let’s hope we can all enjoy Thanksgiving with our teenagers!
Communicate to have an happy Thanksgiving with teenagers
I truly believe that most issues in life can be resolved with better communication. Instead of waiting until Thanksgiving Day and then springing the plan on the kids, I’m going to discuss it with them in advance.
Teenagers want to be treated like adults, so I’m going to let them choose their jobs based on where they think their talents will be best used. The kids will know exactly what they need to do and when it needs to be done, which should cut down or eliminate last-minute confusion and stress.
I also think it is important to go over expectations in advance. Each family is different, but setting ground rules will help the day flow smoothly.
For example, can your kids use their phones on Thanksgiving? Can they stay in their rooms until a certain time or do you expect them to be in common areas all day? Do they need to dress formally or will jeans and hoodies suffice?
When we let our teenagers make decisions, be involved in discussions and inform them of our expectations, we head off arguments and last-minute chaos, which will make the holiday much more pleasant for everyone.
Planning Thanksgiving with teenagers
If you have ever hosted Thanksgiving at your home, you know how much planning and preparation goes into it. Why not let your teenagers help you? It lightens your workload and your teens will feel invested in the holiday.
Here are some ideas to get your teenagers involved in the Thanksgiving prep:
- Let them plan the Thanksgiving dinner menu. Of course, you get final say, but let them give it a whirl and see what they come up with. You might be pleasantly suprised by their creativity and culinary knowledge.
- Teens can take charge of the guest list by inviting everyone and following up for RSVPs. This is a great task for a detail orientated teenager. Once they have a final head count, they can also help plan the amount of food and seating needed.
- After the dinner menu is finalized, your teens can make the grocery list and/or do the grocery shopping. This is an excellent way to teach your teens about budgeting and following a list to make sure they purchase all the ingredients.
- Let your teenagers be in charge of decorating the house. If they are crafty, they can collect leaves and acorns to make their own decorations. If not, they can hit up the dollar store for budget friendly decor.
- Tell your teenager that if they make the name cards and plan the seating chart, they can sit near their cool aunt instead of the toddlers. Win win situation!
Thanksgiving Day with teenagers
Your teenagers can be invaluable on Thanksgiving day! Make sure to play to their strengths and don’t be afraid to delegate responsibilities to them.
Here are some ways your teens can help on Thanksgiving Day:
- Outgoing teenagers can be dubbed the “game coordinator” and be in charge of indoor and outdoor (if weather allows) games. Here are 40 fun games to play with the family.
- Youngers siblings and cousins would love to spend time with the cool, older teens. Why not have them babysit so they adults can relax and chat? if you are feeling generous, you could even pay them a small fee for watching the younger children.
- One of the best things about having teenagers who can drive is that they can do last minute grocery runs for you. Forgot the cranberry sauce? No problem! Your teen will probably be relieved to get away for a few minutes and will happily grab it for you.
- Let your teen choose their favorite dish or dessert to make for dinner. If they are new to cooking, assign them a simple side dish like green bean casserole or corn casserole.
- Delegate the after dinner clean up to your teens so you can relax after a long day and spend time with your relatives.
Use your teens skills and talents
- Designate your teen as the official photographer for the holiday. They can be charge of getting all the posed and candid shots of the family fun. Let’s face it, they probably know more about lighting and angles than we do anyway.
- Have a music lover in your family? Ask them to be in charge of the holiday playlist. Just make sure to set clear guidelines about the type of music and volume.
- Your crafty teen can be in charge of setting and decorating the table or making simple crafts with the younger kids to help keep them entertained. Here are some DIY projects for the kids to try.
- Is one of your teens a storyteller or budding comedian? Put them in charge of coming up with conversation starters for dinner or having jokes on hand in case someone brings up politics and the situation gets tense. Here are 50 Thanksgiving jokes they can tell to get the family laughing.
Other ways for teenagers to help
Maybe Thanksgiving isn’t a big deal at your house. Or maybe you always go to a relative’s house so there is no need to cook or entertain. That doesn’t mean that your teenagers can’t do something special for Thanksgiving.
November is a huge month for volunteering, especially at food banks and soup kitchens. Have your teens get involved with a local organization and give back to the community this month.
Another idea is to do a 30-day gratitude challenge. Each day in November, your teens can write down something they are thankful for in their lives. They can use an official gratitude journal like this one or just a blank notebook.
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I love both of these ideas because generally, teens tend to be a little self-centered. Don’t worry, most of them grow out of it, but these ideas teach your teens to appreciate all the good things in their lives. If you want to read more about teaching your teens to be thankful, check out this article.
I hope these tips help you have a wonderful, stress-free Thanksgiving full of food, family and fun!
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