Getting Creative with Family Dinner

Written by: Stephanie Graham

If you’re like me, you have cooked more in the past five weeks than you have in your entire lifetime. While there are so many benefits to gathering around the table with your family nightly, you could be feeling like, if you play one more game of eye spy or have another conversation about the number of people wearing masks—you might explode! Well, let me offer some ideas to help you enjoy dinner time with your family again.

Theme meals can bring some spice to an otherwise routine meal. For example, spaghetti may be on the menu, but it could also be “A Night in Italy!” Play Italian music while you cook and eat, dress in your finest clothes as you would in a restaurant. Try turning down the lights and lighting candles to create a special atmosphere. These are free, easy changes that make dinner memorable. If you want to get the kids involved, you could have them research three interesting places to visit from the country matching your cuisine. Then, you could “tour” those places on YouTube as a family, after dinner. If your kids are older, they could plan the whole night. If you want a night without cooking, consider Olive Garden’s “Buy One, Take One” meals.

Simply switching locations where you eat can also add interest to dinner time with your family. On a nice day, how about a picnic and yard games? Our family likes an outdoor yard game called Kuub, or horseshoes with the kids. If it’s too cold outside, a camp site in the living room while you eat hot dogs and watch a camping-themed movie, such as The Parent Trap, would be entertaining. Pop some s’mores in the oven after dinner and have a fun and inexpensive night to break up the monotony.

My 6-year-old is a very chatty and creative little lady, which I love. However, some days, my brain cannot handle the word count she provides. Audio books, read-alouds, and podcasts for kids, like God’s Big Story on iTunes, is a great way to enjoy lunch and still engage one another by listening to the story together. If you have a Disney enthusiast at home, this playlist on Spotify provides exciting read-alouds of classic Disney stories that run about 15 minutes long.

One of God’s great gifts is our ability to be creative and share our creativity with those we love. Whether you are enjoying this time at home or you want to pull your hair out, adding some variety to your table experience is just one way to thrive in this quarantine season!