With busy schedules, setting aside quality family time has its own challenges. That’s where sit-down dinners can come in handy—even if it’s once a week. For bonding moments (and lasting memories), consider these seven tips to make family dinners count.
- Make the dinner table a nag-free zone. You can’t please everyone—especially with picky eaters—but try to include at least one item in the meal that everyone can enjoy. With less stress and arguments about the food, it will be easier to focus on what really matters: time together for great conversation.
- Give it a theme. Explore a new cultural cuisine, switch up your table settings, or add music to bring a themed dinner to life. And by letting family know about the plan ahead of time, you’re giving everyone something to plan for and look forward to.
- Play “restaurant.” If you’re longing for a restaurant experience but don’t want to go out, make it happen at home. Recruit the kids to plan and craft a menu. Assign hostess and maître d’ honors. Add some fun to place settings or set up a buffet. If you—or the kids—have a favorite restaurant, try replicating it at home.
- Take the night off. Takeout food is always a crowd pleaser, but take it up a notch by ordering your family’s favorites from more than one restaurant. A serious smorgasbord means a dinner full of everyone’s favorites.
- Game time. Just because it’s dinner time, doesn’t mean you can’t mix it up with a simultaneous game night. Table manners can take a break. Whether it’s a card game, board game, or a game you make up as you go, enjoy a great meal while letting loose.
- Get people talking. To overcome the same ol’ same ol’ at dinnertime, create a conversation-starter jar. Not only can it reinvigorate dinnertime banter, but it helps further connect the family. Plus, it’s just a fun and easy way to learn more about one another.
- Host a dinner bar. What salad bar? Think bigger: breakfast bar, baked potato bar, burrito bar, pizza bar. Kids will love being able to create their own meal, and it only takes a little extra prep time.
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