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I love everything about dinner time. It’s a time to sit and relax and reconnect with family. That’s not the case every night, of course. Our lives are pretty fast paced now-a-days, and we often think we don’t have time for a leisurely family dinner at home. But I would challenge you to find at least 1 time a week to make dinner something special.
Here’s 7 easy tips to go from “Dinner” to “Dining”
#1. Eat at the Table
Now I know that sounds simplistic, and for some of you even silly. But statistically, the majority of at home eating happens in front of the television or the computer. Which is incredibly unhealthy. Not only do we eat more, but we don’t even really enjoy what we are eating. Which, in my book, kinda defeats the whole purpose. So, no more eating while binge watching the Gilmore Girls.
You know who you are.
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Which brings us to #2.
#2. Turn off the TV
In fact, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say turn off ALL the electronics, including cell phones.
I heard that! 🙂
Contrary to the popular beliefs held by the younger generation, the world will not, in fact, come to an end if their phone is unanswered for 30 or 45 minutes. I have it on good authority that the world will continue spinning for at least 6 hours of no cell phone contact. Pinky promise!
#3. Use a Tablecloth
Nothing says “dining” like a tablecloth and cloth napkins. There is just something about it that makes even beans and cornbread feel a little bit fancy.
At my house, I almost always use both a tablecloth and cloth napkins for family dinners. I have a few “everyday” tablecloths and napkins that I use, well, every day. And then I have a pretty white set that I only used to use for special occasions.
Which brings us to #4.
#4. Use the Good Stuff
I have a set of “everyday” dishes and I have a set of “good” dishes. Actually, if I were being totally honest, I have several sets of dishes. But most of them are everyday type dishes. I used to save the good dishes for days like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
But when I moved closer to extended family, we celebrated holidays together at my parents’ house and I never got to use my good dishes anymore. Which made me sad. Because I love my good dishes.
So I started using them on Sundays after church, or whenever I invited friends over. I enjoy using them frequently now, even if it’s just for me.
If you don’t have a set of “good” dishes, no worries! You can still dress up your table using tip #5.
#5. Create a Centerpiece
Believe me, you don’t have to be channeling Martha Stewart to decorate your table. Centerpieces can be quite elaborate or very simple.
Flower arrangements, candles, and seasonal stuff like fall leaves, pinecones, or mini pumpkins make excellent centerpieces. I’m partial to flowers and candles myself, but you use whatever strikes your fancy.
And if your kids are so inclined, let them help you with the centerpiece. Or even make it themselves. It would be a great family activity.
#6. Use Serving Bowls
Another way to dress up your table is by using serving bowls and platters. If it’s your habit to put pots and pans on the table to save on the washing up, which is perfectly reasonable, use serving dishes this time.
Don’t have serving dishes? Not a problem. Try “plating” your meal in the kitchen like they do in the restaurants. It’s fun to do and as an aside it can help with portion control if that’s a thing for you. Added bonus: If you plate in the kitchen you have more room for a centerpiece. 🙂
#7. Serve the Meal in Courses
Nothing says “fancy” more than a multi-course meal. Serve the salad first. A vinegar based salad dressing will actually signal your body to get ready to process a meal, so it helps your digestion. And serving smaller amounts of food at a time gives our brains more time to process signals from our stomach which helps us to not eat too much. Pretty cool, huh?
Courses can also extend the mealtime a little so there’s more time for conversation. I’m not talking anything extravagant like 7 or 9 courses. Just 2. Or 3 if you’re serving dessert. Salad, main course, and dessert. Probably what you would be serving anyway.
#8 Take it Outside
Having dinner outside is always fun, and dressing the table makes it even more special. Eating dinner in the fresh air just makes everything taste better.
I don’t do all of these things every single night, but I do it often. For me, it’s a celebration of family to make our “together time” special with an atmosphere that really allows us to connect. I want my family to know that they are important enough for the “good” china and that every day is worth celebrating.
Do any of these things resonate with you? I hope y’all give it a try, I’d like to hear how your family responds to dining at home.