Now that the school year is winding down, you might want to break out of a dinner rut and try something new. For instance, now might be the perfect time to involve your kids more in making and/or serving dinner. By inviting everyone to contribute to dinner, the experience not only becomes more fun, but more meaningful for everyone (and you get some help!).
This month we offer a few creative ways to get your kids pitching in around dinner, as well as a simple veggie kebab recipe you can make together, games ideal for the warmer weather and conversation starters focused on this month’s theme: loyalty.
These tips come from our do-it-yourself program, Food, Fun and Conversation: 4 Weeks to Better Family Dinners, scheduled to launch very soon. We’ll keep you posted!
With the days growing longer, getting dinner on the table when my kids’ stomachs start grumbling is harder and harder. They want to play on the playground longer; I want to mess around in the yard after work. This means dinner ends up being served later than it should.
Here’s where the veggie kebab comes in. It’s helpful to think about the food before dinner as an appetizer rather than a “snack.” Snacks tend to be bowls of cereal, granola bars, chips and other unhealthy items. Appetizers tend to be veggies, fruits, cheeses and much more wholesome choices. Our favorite go-to appetizer is the veggie kebab, which gets healthy food into your kids while they’re still really hungry, so there’s less fighting about eating veggies during dinner.
Now that it’s warmer out and the days are longer, why not get the family outside right after dinner or between dinner and dessert for a game of cornhole (also known as corn toss)? Cornhole is a lawn game with an interesting history in which players take turns throwing cornhole bags at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. A bag in the hole scores 3 points, while one on the platform scores 1 point. Play continues until a team or player reaches the score of 21. Other possibilities include good old-fashioned croquet, horseshoes, bocce, volleyball, tetherball, Frisbee, soccer, you name it! The sky (literally – as long as you can still see each other) is the limit.
As long as your kids know the alphabet, they can play this one. You start with letter “A” and say “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring… an apple” (or anything else that starts with the letter “A”). Then the next person repeats what you said, and adds something that starts with the letter “B.” The game keeps going like this, with each person on his or her turn repeating what the last person said, and adding a new item based on the next letter, all the way to the letter Z. It’s a great memory game, and can get very silly as you go along. Better yet, why not play it while you’re actually having a picnic in the backyard? (And then play a game of cornhole, as noted above).
Here’s a good game to play (inside or outside) after dinner with kids approximately 8-10 and up. One person thinks of a rhyming pair of words, like Funny Bunny. Then the person gives clues that are synonyms for the two words—hilarious furry mammal, for example. Additionally, the person clues everyone in to how many syllables each word is by using the phrases “higglety pigglety” (for 3 syllable words), “higgy piggy” (for 2 syllable words), or “hig pig” (for 1 syllable words). So Funny Bunny is a “higgy piggy,” while Old Mold is a “hig pig.” Everyone tries to guess. Whoever guesses the right answer first comes up with the next one. Here’s some ideas to get you started.
What’s your family’s favorite game? We want to feature one reader’s game suggestion in each of our future newsletters! Email us! If your game is chosen, we’ll share it in our newsletter (and give you credit of course), as well as send you a fashionable and eco-friendly tote bag from The Family Dinner Project!
Each month our Conversation section offers questions to inspire kids to think through important and meaningful topics, and spark family discussion. This month our questions focus on loyalty. For younger kids, you may want to give a brief explanation or example of loyalty before you begin.