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Family Mealtime Ideas: 10 Ways to Bond Over Dinner

family funstrengthening family relationships

Following a few fun family mealtime ideas can turn a quick and quiet dinner with little family interaction into a happy and happening discussion where everyone draws closer.

Family Mealtime Ideas-Barilla Pasta-Family Dinners

Have you ever had a family meal where you're exhausted before you start making dinner; you seem to be the only one doing any tasks like setting the table or washing the dishes; and when you finally sit down to eat, the kids start complaining about what you made and follow that up by paying more attention to their tech devices than to the people they are sitting right next to—their own family? If so, you're not alone.

I attended the Family Forward retreat last 2017—an event for bloggers and their families in partnership with Universal Orlando Resort. One of my favorite parts was when Barilla, the lunch sponsor of the retreat, brought in their chef, provided each family with the ingredients, and directed a lunch workshop where families worked together to make their own delicious pasta salad.

Family Mealtime Ideas-Barilla Pasta

During Barilla's presentation, experts shared valuable family mealtime ideas from their "Share the Table" program, which is all about encouraging families to get around the dinner table together and create meaningful moments through family mealtime.

10 Family Mealtime Ideas

Here are 10 family mealtime ideas I learned that since implementing, has helped improved our family relationships:

  1. Assign everyone in the family a role so they are all involved in the family meal. From creating a weekly menu, shopping for the ingredients, preparing the meals to setting the table, eating the meal, and cleaning up the kitchen, mealtime jobs come in many shapes and sizes. Switch up the roles week after week, giving each family member a chance to help with a different area. Even the youngest of family members can play a part.
  2. Have a "No Technology at the Table" rule to keep your table distraction free. This includes TV, computers, tablets, cell phones, etc.
  3. Family Mealtime Ideas-Barilla Pasta-Family Dinners-Family Relationships Avoid distractions like doorbells, phone calls, favorite TV shows, etc. by planning ahead or simply ignoring the distractions.
  4. Do regular taste tests. Allow your kids to pick out a recipe or a new type of food at the grocery store. Create a taste test environment where you make the meal, using the new food, and have everyone vote on whether they like it or not. Pairing it with something you all like is helpful in case the new food doesn't go over so well.
  5. Use conversation starters to drive conversation that encourages sharing thoughts, feelings, stories, opinions, and experiences. (Download this FREE dinner discussion question card printable here or the step-by-step tutorial to create your own Dinner Discussion Jar.)
  6. Ask questions that relate to something everyone at the table has in common (a favorite family activity, a sport, a holiday, the family pet, etc.).
  7. One of my favorite mealtime ideas is to go around the table, giving each person the opportunity to ask a question. Allow time for everyone to answer the question before proceeding to the next person. This not only serves as a great conversation starter, but also teaches kids how to ask open-ended questions and be good listeners.
  8. Celebrate events small or large at the dinner table.
  9. Create themed meals. Come up with the theme together as a family. Make food, set the table, decorate the table/kitchen, and play music that goes along with the theme. For more fun, have half the family decide the theme and make the meal. Then, have the other half guess what the theme is.
  10. Blindfold one family member and have them guess what they are eating.

Regardless of how long you dine together, make it a memorable experience by following these simple family mealtime ideas.

What family mealtime ideas bring your family closer together as you share the table over dinner?

Disclosure: Barilla was a sponsor of the Family Forward retreat. This post was part of their sponsorship package. Many ideas shared were those I gleaned from their workshop or through other literature I have read on their Share The Table website. Otherwise, all opinions, ideas, thoughts, family mealtime experiences are my own.
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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


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