This Sunday, gather your family around the table for an early start to National Family Day on September 28. Time around the table is one of your strongest tools in building a strong family. Plus, it’s fun. It’s where we learn about each other’s day, celebrate the milestones we’ve achieved, and nourish our bodies.
Here you’ll find several family dinner ideas to get you started, including conversation starters, recipes, and fun accessories you can add to your own table. So grab your family, sit them down, turn off the cellphones, and enjoy time together.
The Benefits of Family Dinners
The benefits of gathering together with your family for meals are endless. Regularly gathering for a family meal is known to:
- Reduce substance abuse
- Kids eat healthier
- Kids develop stronger relationships with their parents
- Family dinners help counteract negative peer pressure
Keys to Successful Family Dinners
- Turn off the TV
- Make the dinner table a no electronics zone — that includes cellphones!
- Create a routine for starting and ending the meal
- Stay positive, this is not the time for lectures or discipline
- Share about your day
Family Dinner Conversation Starters
Fall is a great time to start new traditions or change up how we do things. If you want to improve your family mealtime, here are some ideas and conversation starters to get you started.
Share Family Stories
Kids who know their family history have a stronger sense of wellbeing. Mealtime is the perfect time to share stories about the good and bad times. Learning how family members overcame illness or adversity are important to connect kids to a larger vision of the world.
Questions to help:
- Do you know how Mom and Dad met?
- What countries did our family come from?
- How did our family come to live in America?
- Do you know what your Great Grandpa did for work?
- Who in our family had a serious illness or accident?
Source: The Dating Divas
Conversation cards are a great way to encourage more than one-word answers. You can find free printables that you can have at the table. Want to make your own? Take notecards and write questions down, cut them out, and place in a mason jar.
Source: Together Counts Blog
This is such a cute idea for getting the family talking. Get a set of porcelain plates from your local dollar store and use a porcelain marker to write down questions for built-in table talk cards.
Family Dinner Rituals
Strong families have rituals and traditions. Think of them like the glue that binds everyone together. They’re the moments your kids will come to love and will bring them back home when they grow up. These are the things that make your family unique.
- Make them simple: Taco Tuesday, homemade birthday cake, and favorite meals
- Create traditions that everyone can participate in
- Make them inexpensive: Pizza and a movie, game night, and more
- Celebrate small things: The first rainy day of spring, your child’s first game or sports meet
Each of us brings our childhood traditions. As adults we get to decide what we want to keep and what new things we want our family to do. Don’t be afraid to try new things and discard ones that don’t work.
Family Dinner Recipes
The key is eating together, what you serve is less important. Make breakfast for dinner or order takeout in a pinch. Keep it simple and you’ll be successful. Whatever you do, save money by checking for coupons before you shop! Need some inspiration? Here are four recipe collections and meal plans to get you started: