There is nothing like a grumpy teenager to spoil the Thanksgiving mood. While we would rather see them chatting with Grandma or setting the table, chances are your teen would rather be hanging with his buds. What you need is a game plan to change that teen attitude into a bit of gratitude.
Give him an assignment
Teens love to feel that they have special privileges — especially when there are younger siblings or cousins around. Before you head to Grandma's house, come up with a plan for something that only your teen will be in charge of.
Does your teen love photography? Assign them the role of paparazzi for the day. Give them the assignment of getting great shots of everyone present — some candids and some posed. Take this task one step further and have your teen either upload the pictures to a photo-sharing site (Shutterfly or Picasa are good options) or create a special photo book for Grandma, complete with captions.
Is your teen an amazing storyteller? Give her the job of collecting stories from family members. Of course everyone has heard Uncle Bob's stories about growing up on a farm, but do you remember the details? Capturing family stories and saving them for future generations is a great way to encourage family bonding. Preserving these memories is even more important as the older family members get older.
The more, the merrier
Why not invite a favorite friend to dine with your family? Sometimes, the simple addition of her BFF is enough to break the tension and make your holiday more enjoyable. Make sure to set the ground rules ahead of time — like no texting, no foul language and making sure to introduce the friend to all family members.
One of the best ways to share Thanksgiving with family and friends is to share something you are thankful for in the past year. A great way to share these is to write them on precut paper leaves in fall colors. Assign your teen the task of greeting each person and asking them to share what they are thankful for, then writing it on a leaf. These leaves can then be scattered in the center of the table, so people can read them or discuss them while dining.
With a bit of planning ahead, you can find something special for your teen to add to your Thanksgiving festivities — minus the eye-rolls.