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Sunday Dinner Extravaganza

Sunday Family DinnerSunday dinners provide an excellent opportunity to create large-scale meal productions and practice hospitality. Everyone gets a piece of the action and learns to work as a team. After the masterpiece is revealed on the dining room table, everyone is quick to identify which pieces they helped create.

Additionally, there is something special about enjoying good food together with people we love. It is in these shared experiences of enjoyment that deep and lasting memories are made.

One of my favorite family scenes from a movie is at the end of Cheaper by the Dozen when Steve Martin looks out across the dinner table at his family. They are passing the food around while enjoying each other's company. Steve Martin just smiles in the warmest manner. I very much relate to this scene and I have almost come to tears several times in my own experiences while staring out over my family as they enjoy each other during a good meal. 

 

Planning

This activity is not just limited to Sundays as any day that you can gather everyone together will work. At the minimum you will want everyone from your immediate family to participate. How often is it that the modern family actually makes time to get together for a concentrated time of conversation and enjoyment? A meal is a perfect opportunity to gather everyone.

Sunday Family DinnerThese meals also provide an excellent occasion to include others in your family gathering. This provides the experience of hospitality while exposing your children to the wisdom and stories of other adults. For more information read the Hospitality section below.

Part of the fun in having a big meal is selecting the items for a menu. Most families become notorious for a particular recipe because they perfect it over years. If you are adventurous, you can try some new ideas.

 

Getting It Together

Having the menu selected days in advance will help ensure that all the ingredients are on hand and prepared. Most likely you will need to also plan for a dessert, unless you have invited guests that will be bringing one. See the cookie section for some dessert ideas.

If you are inviting guests, then you may want to send out invitations. Think about a theme or at least reflect the season. Get the kids involved in this part by making the invitations and also a centerpiece that matches.

If the meal is a large gathering of people, consider using plastic ware and paper products. This will provide more time to spend together and less time cleaning up.

If space is an issue, consider using a buffet style to serve the food. This can be done by using the counters in the kitchen and having everyone take plates back to the table. This frees up table room for more people and less clutter.

 

Sunday Family DinnerHospitality

Hospitality is an art that goes beyond simply entertaining one's guests. It entails creating an atmosphere in which the guests feel comfortable and making sure they are actively engaged.

The first and worst mistake that is made by anyone hosting a large meal is that they will ignore the people that were invited. The fact that someone has to prepare and serve the meal, does not excuse that person from interacting with others. Over planning is the best cure for this rudeness. Another simple way to avoid this rudeness is to involve everyone in the production of the meal such as setting the table and placing the drinks and food on the table. I have never met a guest who did not enjoy helping in these areas.

A way to involve the kids is to put together small goodie bags or homemade gifts to give to the guests or just each other. If attending a meal at someone else's house, it is never inappropriate to bring a gift for the hostess such as some flowers or something the kids have made.

There is a fine art to knowing when to call it an evening and send guests home. The best way to do this is to simply let everyone know early in the evening what time the kids have to be in bed by and work towards that time. Some people do not take that hint and you will need to be more direct but respectful.

 

Practice Manners Ahead of Time

No one will argue that manners are lacking in modern society. It is rare to hear youth say "sir" or "ma'am" when addressing adults. While some would argue that these simple courtesies are no longer necessary, that does not mean we cannot indulge them on occassion.

 

Social Ideas

 

 

Conversation Starters

 

Get formal

 

Do you have a favorite dinner activity you would like to share?

Tell us about it so we can try it out.

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Timeless Wisdom

Your success as a family ... our success as a society depends not on what happens in the White House, but on what happens inside your house.

 

- Barbara Bush (former U.S. First Lady)