These 5 tips will coax them right into the kitchen.

By Stacey Ballis
December 29, 2020
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Teenagers stuck at home for New Year’s Eve might just be your toughest sell for celebrating. But food, especially great food, can be a wonderful way to draw them out and get them on board! You know your teen best, so choose one of these thematic options and get them involved in both the planning and execution.

For the teen who loves humor

There is nothing more fun than planning a meal with a sense of whimsy. So, if your teenager is the funny one in any group, appeal to their sense of kitsch and plan a “fancy” multi-course meal, where every course has a sense of the silly about it. Finger foods are always fun, but also, going for fancy tasting menu style plating can bring extra laughs. Think fish sticks for the fish course, sliders for the entrée, queso dip or those mini Babybel cheeses for the cheese course, with a push-up or popsicle for an intermezzo, and “plated” desserts (raspberry sauce-painted plates with a single Ding Dong and edible gold leaf?). The sillier the better.

For the teen who loves travel

We’re all missing adventures away from home these days, so think about this meal as an opportunity to visit anywhere in the world from your kitchen and dining table. Choose a place you would love to be traveling to and cook up or order in a meal that would be appropriate to that location. If your teen loves to ski? Think about making Alpine dishes like tartiflette or choucroute garnis. If your teen prefers the beach? Go tropical with a Caribbean feast. Dive into your cookbook collection or search online for traditional recipes, and don’t forget to research any special New Year’s traditions from those locales that you might incorporate.

For the teen who loves movies or TV

Find one of their favorites, and make a meal inspired by the film! Even better if you have to invent a bit and get creative. From Harry Potter Butter Beer, to a Mandalorian Tiingilar stew, to a classic Gilmore Girls pizza and Pop-Tart binge, if the food in their beloved movie isn’t obvious, then see how you can all brainstorm on how to create something that feels authentic.

For the teen who actually loves food and cooking

This should be the easiest one of all: Just ask them what they would most want to eat or make! If your teen loves cooking and baking shows, they likely have some thoughts on what the meal might be in their dreams. Whether they want to make an elaborate dessert creation and leave the meal to you, or create a menu from start to finish, really listen to what they think and give them as much free rein as you can.

Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to have a Plan B

Be sure to have a back-up plan in case of total disaster, which in 2020 is a good idea no matter what your holiday plans. Whether that is an emergency frozen pizza or lasagna, a gallon of ice cream, or a secret heat-and-eat frozen pie, be sure that if anything goes sideways it doesn’t derail dinner completely, so that your teen doesn’t feel overly pressured.