Does your teen find every excuse in the book for why he is not available to help around the house? It can be very frustrating, especially during the holiday season when you need his help the most. This is the time of year you should be enjoying family, so to avoid the typical exasperated sigh, which may be accompanied by the shameful, "I'm busy" response, assign chores your teen will actually enjoy doing. Here are some creative ideas to encourage him to get involved in the holiday preparations and lighten your load.

Foster Team Work

Caitlin and Andrew Friedman, authors of the upcoming book Family Inc: Office-Inspired Solutions to Reduce the Chaos in Your Home (and Save Your Sanity!) (Penguin/Tarcher, January 2013), advise, "Scheduling is important so teenagers don't feel put upon. Post a daily schedule of responsibilities in the kitchen. This way everyone knows what is expected … and also that there is an even distribution of work." Working as a team instead of making demands on your teen is also crucial. "Consider bringing your teen into the family planning by discussing what needs to be done," the Friedmans say. Allowing teens to choose their chores provides them with a sense of ownership of their work-a catalyst to a positive attitude.

Ken Damato, CEO of, an online site dedicated to educating families about organization and money management, agrees that teens work best when parents respect their ideas and opinions. "The best way parents can encourage teens to have a positive attitude towards chores is by including their input," Damato says. Talking with teens about what types of chores need to be done and which chores they enjoy can help make them more positive about the whole experience. "Teens like to have a sense of control, and including them in the process will encourage a positive attitude."

Chores Teens Enjoy

The Friedmans say "Most kids, even teenagers, like to help cook. During the holidays, there is a lot of cooking to get done. Additionally, teens like to set up (not breakdown), so give them the job of setting the table."

As a teen, Damato recalls that he liked everything neat and organized, so any kind of chore that involved rearranging and re-creating a space was a good choice for him. After conducting in-depth surveys about teen chores, Damato's staff proposes the following options:

Setting up holiday decorations : It's easy for people of all ages to get into the holiday spirit when it involves setting up lights, decorating the tree or wrapping presents. Because these chores are unique to the season, teenagers will be more willing to help out.

Donate or sell personal belongings : Have your teens go through closets and donate clothing and sporting equipment that is no longer worn or used. This emphasizes the importance of charitable giving and provides teens with a sense of accomplishment. They could also sell their gently worn items to a consignment shop and use the proceeds to purchase gifts for family and friends.

Incorporate Technology : Teens are undeniably tech savvy and enjoy using technology to help out at home. After the holidays, ask your teen to create a spreadsheet of the holiday cards sent and received. (This will prove to be a big time saver for next year!) Teens can also help set up new electronics or game systems.

Still stumped for ideas? Suggest these chores that match your teen's interests and abilities so he will be more apt to help out:

  • Crafty teens: make ornaments or fresh wreaths

  • Kitchen-savvy teens: prepare dinner on nights parents are out shopping

  • Mechanical teens: change the oil in Mom's car to save her a trip to Jiffy Lube

  • Techie teens: send digital cards/photos to friends and relatives

  • Licensed teens: will gladly take siblings to activities or run errands

  • Picture-taking teens: set up and take family holiday photos

  • Care-giving teens: watch younger siblings for an afternoon so parents can run errands

  • Pet-loving teens: groom the family pet