Growing up, my mom always knew the best ways to create the perfect dinner atmosphere for my family. This is actually one of my most favorite childhood memories, and still to this day, we do the same in my family. Eating family meals together extends far beyond the nutritional value of the food. Some research suggests that eating together at the dinner table not only strengthens the family bond but children that enjoy family meals are also less likely to be overweight and are less likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs. Not surprisingly, families that eat meals together at home eat a healthier diet than those who do not. The families have improved communication and social understanding too. In order to make an enjoyable experience for your family, here are 7 ways to create the perfect dinner atmosphere.
1. Turn off the TV
One of the first ways to create the perfect dinner atmosphere is to turn the television off. Dinner is a time to share stories of the day, enjoy nutritious food, and unwind after a long day. Leaving the TV on is a great distraction from all of these things. Of course there can always be exceptions, but on most nights make it a rule in your house that during the dinner hour, the television is off.
2. Put Away the Cell Phones
Another annoying distraction and surefire way to disrupt a dinner is bringing your cell phone with you to the table. If you are in a conversation on your phone via text or even checking your emails during dinner, you are clearly not engaged in the present moment. Show your family respect and require the others to do the same and put your cell phone away when it’s dinner time.
3. Dim the Lights
A great way to create a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere for an enjoyable dinner is to dim the overhead lights. During the dinner hour, your family should begin to unwind from the day, releasing yesterday, today and tomorrow’s stresses. Create an atmosphere that will allow your family members to feel relaxed, comfortable, and able to enjoy the time together.
4. Light Candles
Another great way to set the mood for an enjoyable family dinner is to light some candles. Candles provided a touch of light without shining too brightly. Since you will be eating and want to enjoy the aromas of the food, stick to unscented candles on the dinner table so that the two fragrances don’t clash. This tiny flame can really change the tone of the dinner.
5. Set the Table
A well-set table helps create a pretty atmosphere for a family meal. In order to portray the importance of the family meal, set the table with place mats, napkins, silverware, and a pretty centerpiece. Growing up, my siblings and I all had a defined responsibility at dinner time. One of us would set the table, one of us would make everyone’s drinks, one of us would light the candles, and so on. This way, the person that is preparing the food (for us, it was my mom) doesn’t have to worry about setting the table too, and this also gets the entire family involved.
6. Give Thanks
A wonderful way to begin a gratifying family dinner is to start the meal with a blessing or remarks of thanks. Give thanks for the time you share together, the hands that prepared the meal, and so forth. Starting the meal with a blessing of thanks helps everyone remember how grateful they are (or should be) to enjoy the meal they are about to receive with the company that they are blessed to have.
7. Keep a Peaceful Conversation Policy
There is nothing worse than making it home after a long day and sitting down for a family meal together only to have someone lashing out at someone else. Although it can be hard to avoid this with young children, if you set a “peaceful conversation only” policy for them at a young age, eventually they will follow suit. After a long, stressful day, dinner time should be enjoyable and a time that everyone looks forward to rather than another added stress. Encourage your family to keep the conversation positive by avoiding gossip, negative talk, and arguments. Instead, focus on each other’s accomplishments, the delicious taste of the food, and happy conversation.
Creating the right atmosphere for your family dinner can really change the way everyone thinks about all joining together at the dinner table each night. While kids might resist the idea at first, keep requiring that they show up each night and soon this healthy habit will become one they all enjoy! Does your family eat together at the dinner table each night?