I believe in the power of family dinners.
Eating together is about so much more than getting food on the table and feeding hungry stomachs.
Dinnertime can be a refreshing pause in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives whether the meal is takeout pizza or a homemade four-course meal.
With a little creativity, you can create a family table that encourages sharing, relaxation, and connection.
It doesn’t take much time or effort.
Try one of these four ideas at your next family meal.
The dictionary defines ambiance as, “the character and atmosphere of a place.” There’s a reason the very best restaurants strive to create ambiance.
Food tastes better, and meals are more enjoyable when served in a special setting.
It’s surprisingly easy to add a little of this magic to your family table.
5 Simple Ways to Create Ambiance at your Family Table
- Light candles on the table and dim the lights.
- Play relaxing background music (find premade Spotify playlists under the “Mood” tab).
- Use those special china plates and nice glasses that you usually only use for holidays.
- Treat yourself to a bouquet of flowers for the table.
- Change your usual habit and eat in the dining room or on the back porch when the weather is nice.
Involve Your Kids
Include your family in meal prep and table setting as their ages allow.
I know it’s often just easier (and faster) to do it all yourself, but easy and fast aren’t always best.
When your children help with even the simplest tasks (like finding a recipe on Pinterest, making the tossed salad, folding the napkins, and bringing the food to the table), they gain a sense of pride and ownership in family meals.
Did you know that today the average family dinner time lasts just 12 minutes?
Families spent over an hour together at the dinner table fifty years ago!
Time at the dinner table is about more than the food; at its heart, it’s about bonding as a family.
Doesn’t that deserve more than 12 minutes of our day?
Be intentional about your time at the table together.
Slow down and enjoy each others’ company by creating good conversation.
4 tips to help you create a family table that encourages conversation
- When enjoying meals together, avoid stressful topics like your son’s disappointing math grade or your daughter’s speeding ticket. There’s a better time and place for those discussions.
- If it’s a challenge to get conversation flowing, try a conversation game. Check out this post for ideas.
- Take turns during the week as the “host” at the dinner table. The host is responsible for creating good conversation and doing his best to include everyone in the conversation. The host should come to the table with an interesting fact to share or a fun topic to bring up.
- Make your family table a screen-free zone. Turn off the TV and leave cell phones in the other room.
Spend some time thinking about what you’d like your family mealtimes to be like.
Establish family table expectations and put them in writing.
Be flexible with your guidelines, and know that they will evolve over time. You could ask for input from your children depending on your children’s ages and your family culture.
When my children were younger, I kept our expectations posted on a cabinet next to our kitchen table.
We all knew how to treat each other, and that table manners were to be used.
With a little effort, your family mealtimes can be enjoyable, meaningful, and memorable.
Here’s to happy dining!
Hey, moms! Get your free copy of The Family Table Manners Checklist, plus my top 5 tips to help you teach your children table manners in a fun and stress-free way.
Remember, good manners and social confidence begin at the family table!