Sponsor Article from Ro*Tel®
Eating together as a family has profound benefits, including the encouragement of smarter eating choices, increased family communication and prudent family budgeting. Yet even with these factors in mind, gathering the family together in spite of conflicting hectic schedules is cause for celebration — and play! Taking a bit of extra time to focus beyond the plate engages the whole family for a memorable meal. Dress up dinner and make family time festive with our simple tips that are easy (and fun) enough for every day.
Reserve to Serve
Setting a time for dinner — just like making a reservation at a restaurant — sets a special tone for the meal. It also allows the whole family to set aside their evening activities to prepare for focused family time, and teaches younger children how to independently follow a schedule. If your children are helping with the meal, then having a fixed time for dinner allows everyone to work together as a team to reach a common goal.
Unplug and Play
Stay connected at the dinner table by turning off phones and televisions and turning up the music. Pick your kids' favorite playlists, or spend a little time together and make one that everyone will enjoy. For a custom playlist and a little added effort, consider songs that pair with the meal, like upbeat salsa music for fajita night or classic rock for burgers on the grill. Let catchy tunes fuel fun conversation while digging into a festive dinner.
Setting the Table
Change table setting from a chore into an opportunity for creativity. Ask your kids to fold the napkins into different shapes when they set the table, or send them outside to pick flowers for a centerpiece. For a celebratory twist, reuse clean wine bottles by removing the labels and filling them with juice; have your kids design their own "wine" labels on the computer for added fun. Skip the placemats. Instead, cover the table with a large sheet of kraft paper and scatter crayons around to give everyone the opportunity to doodle while they dine. Allowing kids to add to the appearance of the table gives them a safe opportunity to participate in meal preparation in a way that's fun for everyone.
A simple way to elevate dinnertime from standard to special is to create a theme around your family's favorite dishes. Incorporate all elements surrounding the meal — the music, flowers, table settings — into one theme, and suddenly dinner feels more like a party. Easy themes like "Breakfast for Dinner" or "Friday Fiesta" encompass foods the family already loves, but gives them a fresh spin when the surrounding scene is incorporated. For example, a salmon supper is transformed into a tropical meal with an island-inspired playlist, napkins folded into shells and homemade placemats with fish drawn onto them. A simple way to show off a chosen theme is to print a menu from the computer, giving your standard dinner fare a new attitude.