Looking for some non-digital dinnertime fun to keep your kids engaged during family dinners? It can be such a struggle to sync schedules and actually get everyone to the dinner table at the same time; then it's doubly frustrating when the kids - maybe even mom and dad - are more focused on the pings from their phones than each other. Or siblings are squabbling and making you crazy and you can't wait for dinner to end. With these 5 easy ideas for dinnertime fun for the whole family, the dying tradition of family dinners just may be revived. In fact, the kids may even run to the table when you call: "Dinnertime!"
Play a Fun Dinnertime Game
It's amazing the excitement a simple game can generate for kids around the dinner table, especially as it becomes a special family tradition. My family has two favorites:
1. The High-Low Game
Go around the table and each person shares what the high point and the low point of their day was. Sounds corny but we all love this, and it sparks conversation. Invariably there is a funny story and often our most sanguine kid will share his high, think for a minute, and say, "I don't have a low." This is a great lesson in positive thinking for all of us!
2. Dinner Table Memory Game
Everyone analyzes all the items that are on the dinner table and tries to memorize what is there. Then they close their eyes except for the person who is IT. That family member quietly removes and hides one of the items on the table. Then the others open their eyes and the first one to correctly guess the missing item is IT! Way more fun and way better for brain development than scanning texts on cell phones. Check out The Family Dinner Project for more great game ideas.
3. Grill Together
Dinnertime fun social grilling with the family around the iBBQ Angara grill table.
If you have an Angara grill table, you have the ultimate centerpiece for an interactive dinner the kids will love! Everyone in the family can take part in grilling, while sitting around the dinner table. It's less work for Mom and Dad and exciting for the kids. It's like our old family fondue parties that are my absolute favorite family dinner memories, but with so many more options for interesting meals. You could eat around your Angara every night and have a blast exploring all the great grill-friendly recipes we've posted from Steven Raichlen. The kids will especially love the grilled dessert recipes!
4. Have Dessert First!Speaking of dessert, nothing says dinnertime fun to kids like reversing the order of the courses! Give them dessert first (in moderation) and watch their eyes light up! They'll be so gobsmacked by their luck that they'll happily sit through the rest of the meal and talk to their parents, who they may even call the "best parents ever" (a particularly refreshing change for those of us who hear the opposite sometimes!).
Grilled pound cake, anyone? Your kids will love helping to grill this yummy Steven Raichlen dessert. Photo by Richard Dallett.
5. Serve Interactive Entrees
While social grilling is the ultimate interactive meal, there are other menus that get the kids involved whether you are grilling or not. Tacos are a favorite around here. Everyone gets to pick their shell (hard or soft) and choose their toppings. You are not controlling everything that goes on their plates, and kids love to make their own choices. One of our family faves is: Rice Cream Sundaes. Cook up some delicious rice, like Lundberg's Organic Brown Long Grain Rice, and then put bowls of toppings on the table: shredded cheese, garbanzos, tomatoes, turkey, chicken... Most leftovers work as ingredients for these DIY rice bowls! Kids love to make them and the enticing name draws in their friends every time!