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When it comes to family mealtimes, making things fun is one of the many effective ways to bring kids and grown-ups together, time and time again. Whether you’re looking to make your family dinners run a bit more smoothly or you want to set up some special days throughout the week, you can employ a few techniques to make sure everyone enjoys themselves at the dinner table.

No matter how old your kids are, there are a few favourites you can start on when the family is in a bit of a dinner rut. It’s all about making sure everyone feels engaged, happy and welcome. Here’s how:

1. Include Everybody

Even if you’re working with difficult schedules and hectic activities, it can be worthwhile to make sure your whole clan can come together for your family mealtimes. Ensuring everyone feels included can create tradition and community around your eating rituals.

This may mean you need to pick slightly awkward times or perhaps reduce the number of family meals to only a few occasions each week. It can be beneficial to do so, especially if this means keeping your family’s main source of socialisation as a complete unit. Keep track of everyone’s schedules and encourage open communication. When you have a steady, consistent flow of information, it becomes that much easier to plan and unite.

2. Serve Up Some Favourites

One of the best ways to get the whole household excited about family mealtimes is to make foods everyone likes. The food is the center of the event – it brings everyone in and creates a focal point for the evening. Even if you don’t include special treats every time, making favourite dishes can get everyone excited about the meal together.

Whether your kids go wild for pizza, macaroni or chicken nuggets, including these foods somewhere in your meal can get them to the table with enthusiasm. You can even plan a pizza night or a designated night each week for a household favorite treat. This doesn’t mean you can’t make healthy food or change things up from time to time. For example, salads and slaws can make great sides for pizza.

3. Cook Together

If you have the time and space, cooking together as a family can make family mealtimes feel like a special adventure or project of sorts. No matter how young your kids are, you can include them and give them jobs in the kitchen while you make dinner. Meals can feel more rewarding and engaging when they’re a product of working together.

Even if you cook together just once a week, spending that extra time with one another as a part of the process can be fun for everyone. Plus, kids love to copy their parents and do what grown-ups do. If you show them that you’re cooking, they’ll likely want to follow suit. And for older kids, participating in meal prep can teach them valuable life skills they need to learn.

4. Play a Game

Regardless of your kids’ age, playing a game at the dinner table can spice things up and bring in new conversations. Word association games and activities that spark discussions are often great for the dinner table, as you’ll all likely be occupied with your meals. For younger kids, games like “I spy” and “20 questions” are great options, as they aren’t too conceptually deep, but they offer a lot of fun.

If you’re looking to bring interesting conversations into your meals with older kids, question topics or question cards can help you explore discussions that don’t usually appear at your table. No matter what games you choose, they can liven up your meal with vibrant communication for everyone.

5. Try Something New

If you’re looking to get everyone pumped, why not try out a new recipe? Whether you’re exploring ideas the kids will love or bringing a more sophisticated touch, trying out a different recipe can bring some excitement to the dinner table. If your kids are itching to eat a specific food, try cooking it together or putting your own spin on it.

Or, if you’re particularly short on time, get some takeout from a food spot in your town you’re particularly eager to try. Who knows? You could find a brand-new favorite.

6. Get Your Just Desserts

Kids can be suckers for a dessert. And – let’s face it – so can adults. Ending your meal with a little treat can be the perfect way to liven up the whole table. This tip also doesn’t mean you need to ruin your perfectly nutritious meal by filling up on cake at the end. You can rethink dessert by including healthy recipes or introducing a light snack of fruit at the end of a meal. Either way, it’s sure to strike a chord.

Come Together

With whatever you make, you have many ways to get everyone on board with eating together and creating a routine that brings quality time and quality tastes. All you have to do is, do it together.

What are your tips for fun family mealtimes together? Tell us in the comments below.

  • I’ve never felt the need to make meal time fun. We have always sat at the table for dinner as a family. We talk about our days and share stories or memories. It’s just part of our usual lives.

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  • We do this more often now.

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  • There are some great fun ideas listed here. We used to have everyone pick a day and it was their job to decide on the meal and get everyone to help. Advice was given with the knowledge that when it was their turn to get the meal ready they had to accept advice for what it was and no criticism. Worked out well

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  • That we always sit down to dinner together. We talk about our day, and there’s often a few jokes flying around too. I also involve family in the meals we choose to have as well.

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  • I love eating as a family, we never did much when I was a kid, we have no screens at the table, we talk about what we did that day, what we would like to do the next day ect.

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  • This is a great article. Meal times provide such wonderful opportunities for families to come together :)

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  • WOW I appreciate this so much! Meal times are a huge struggle for me and the family. Hoping it will change for the better????

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  • We love to have Phat Friday! It’s a meal you would normally get while out, only better for you freshly made at home eg. Homemade pizza, sausage rolls, tacos, bao buns, fresh potato wedges or sweet potato chips etc the list is endless! Then we have potato chips or chocolate or/& freshly made popcorn and watch a movie. Phat Friday is a dinner and evening we always look forward to!


    • Sounds lovely ! It’s all about connection :)

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  • It sounds a bit silly, but having a few conversation starters up your sleeve can really help if kids are going through an uncommunicative phase.

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  • fantastic ideas. We try to meal prep together so that we can eat together throughout the week.

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  • I do most of the cooking but hubby enjoys putting on a bbq.
    When he does a barbie, I usually do the sides.
    Bub is only one so can’t really get involved yet other than press the next button on the thermomix when I use it!

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  • With a toddler eating time is always bit crazy and my husband and I hardly ever enjoy dinner with kids going crazy ????

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  • I started doing the how was your day discussion at dinner but then it took close to an hour for my eldest to eat, where as everyone else was done in 20 minutes, so we had to sit and wait. After that it was just eat first, talk later!

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  • making sure the tv is off. getting the whole family involved in the preparation is nice too.

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  • I grew up having literally all meals together at the table; breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even my dad would bike 5kn to home to have his lunch with us and then return to his work again ! I’m afraid this doesn’t work as such in our household, although the kids share as much as possible all meals together, lunches are being eaten at school. My husband is always late home and eats his dinner later in the evening

    Reply

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