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Newsletter: November 2019

New Ways to Connect at Thanksgiving (and beyond)

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Family dinners are important every day, but we have to admit that there are some family dinners that get more attention than others. Thanksgiving tends to top the list of scene-stealing meals — after all, it’s a holiday that centers on the tradition of feasting with family and friends. It’s also the kick-off to the entire holiday season, when many of us will be spending more time enjoying food, fun and conversation with loved ones than we do at any other time of year. So how can we be sure to make Thanksgiving dinner, and the celebrations that follow, meaningful and rewarding for all?

  • It’s not about the food (but it’s a little bit about the food). Sure, the food tends to be the main focus of planning the celebrations, but what makes Thanksgiving truly a day of “thanks and giving” is the way we choose to connect with the people around the table. Get conversation starters, tips for taming technology at the holiday table, activity ideas and more ways to keep the focus on family and friends at our Thanksgiving hub. There are some recipes, too — because let’s face it, it’s a little bit about the food.
  • Still, there are a lot of people to feed during the holiday season. That’s one reason we included a chapter called “There’s Too Big a Crowd!” in our new book, Eat, Laugh, Talk: The Family Dinner Playbook. Besides recipes for buffet-ready crowd pleasers like mostaccioli and pulled pork, we offer games and conversation ideas to help make newer dinner guests feel comfortable, keep little ones engaged and get the laughter flowing.
  • But the holiday season is also about giving. Yes, giving (and thanks!) should be high on the priority list at this time of year, especially gifts of our presence, time and service to others. As we do every year, The Family Dinner Project invites you and your family to celebrate Giving Tuesday with us. You can take part simply by visiting our Giving Tuesday resources and using some of the ideas to spark conversations about thanks and giving at your family dinner.
  • And it’s also about making everyone feel welcome. With big gatherings come wonderful opportunities to make memories — as well as the possibility of some conflict, especially when extended family members and guests don’t share the same views on topics like politics. If you’re wondering how to make the dinner table a welcoming space despite diverse points of view, check out Dr. Anne Fishel’s 2016 article on the Politics of Thanksgiving, as relevant now as it was then.

There’s no doubt that Thanksgiving and the following season can bring feelings of stress as you plan and organize for your celebrations, but this is also an annual opportunity to slow down and remember what family meals are all about: Food, fun and conversation about things that matter, with the people who matter to you. The Family Dinner Project Team wishes you and your loved ones a happy season of thanks and giving!

When I Think of Family Dinner, I Think Of…

How would you finish that sentence? With a memory about a favorite food? A funny story about a dinner disaster? Some sweet moment that brings a smile to your face years after it happened? We want to hear from you! Share your “When I think of family dinner…” answers in a quick video on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram between November 7 and 17 and be entered to win a copy of Eat, Laugh, Talk: The Family Dinner Playbook. Get all the details here!

Family of the Month

Meet Tina Begay and her family! We first met Tina through our work with Montana No Kid Hungry, and are pleased to be able to share her story of using family dinners to help strengthen the bonds of her extended family.

Real Family Dinner Projects: The Begay Family


Our Family of the Month generously shares their recipe for Navajo frybread!

DeeDee Begay’s Navajo Frybread


Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to try some new table games, like “Top Four!”

Top Four


Keep the conversation meaningful (and pleasant) with these conversation starters.

Convo Starters