12 Great Ideas For Family Mealtimes – Hope 103.2

12 Great Ideas For Family Mealtimes

Sitting down together to eat, can improve your family's wellbeing. So we've compiled 12 ideas for developing happy family mealtime traditions.

By Clare BruceMonday 25 May 2015Christian LivingReading Time: 5 minutes

Sitting down with your family to eat can improve your wellbeing, say the experts. Studies link regular family mealtimes with better health and happiness, better academic performance, and better family relationships.

To help inspire more happy family meals, we asked Hope 103.2 staff and listeners to tell us their favourite dining table traditions. Why not give some of these a try…

1 – The Sunday Roast

Roast Dinner

The great Sunday Roast tradition has been passed down from Australia’s British heritage. In the UK, this ritual dates back centuries. It’s still a favourite for many Aussie families.

Anthony, Hope Media technical assistant: “My favourite family meal tradition is Sunday lunch with my whole family and my grandparents.”

 

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2 – The Pizza /Fish & Chips Night 

Pizza Night

Traditions around a specific meal are popular. They create a sense of ritual, and something that everyone looks forward to.

Warwick, Hope 103.2 listener: “Pizza night is one of our favourite family meal traditions. Sometimes it’s homemade from scratch eaten on nice plates with knives and forks. Other times it’s takeaway eaten on “cardboard plates” (torn up pizza boxes).  It always makes for a happy dinner time.”

Nick, Hope 103.2 announcer:  “We love our homemade pizza. We grind organic grain to make the flour, then make our own bases. Top ‘em, eat ‘em. Yum!”

Cara, Hope 103.2 listener: “We used to have “fish and chips Friday” with fizzy drink, vegging out watching David Atteborough docos on TV. We were a very active family, so Friday night dinner after gym practice was our time to let it all hang out.”

Heather, Hope 103.2 listener: “We have bacon, eggs, tomatoes and baked beans every Saturday night. Yum!”

 

3 – The Family Brekky  

Family Breakfast

If weeknight commitments make it hard to gather everyone in your family for dinner, why not try a breakfast tradition?

Marni, Hope 103.2 listener: “We do Saturday morning family breakfast which consists of our most favourite breakfasts – Bircher muesli, pancakes, French toast, maple syrup and fresh OJ. It’s a meal made with love but must be eaten in PJ’s only.”

 

4 – The Doughnut Day  

Child Doughnut

Okay, it’s not quite a meal, but a weekly “treat” day for the kids such as Doughnut Day can develop warm and lasting memories. 

Travis, Hope Media national account executive: “My favourite family meals memory is doughnuts. Every Wednesday my mum would pick me up from school and take me to get a donut and now I am obsessed with them! “

 

5 – The Loungeroom Movie-Picnic

Family Movie

Experts say TV meals aren’t the best way to eat together as the TV stops conversation. But a movie-dinner can create fun memories if done periodically, as a treat.

Lisa, Hope 103.2 listener: “On Friday nights when I was a kid we would put out the blanket and have a fish-and-chips loungeroom picnic. My hubby and I are continuing the tradition with our kids now.”

 

6 – The Spontaneous Get-Together

Family Dinner

If your busy family struggles to get together, try to grab spontaneous mealtimes when everyone’s home. Even a quick snack or drink can create togetherness.

Sherry, Hope Media accounts assistant: “I come from a family where we always have things on at night and we rarely see each other for family meals. So I like it when we all happen to have no plans one night and we sit and have dinner together.“

 

7 – The Conversation Box

Dad Daughter Conversation

Some kind of game or ritual that sparks conversations is a great way to get your family talking.

Kim, Hope Media’s marketing manager:  “Around Christmas, my hubby and stepdaughters and I pull out a Christmas Conversation Box. It’s got questions in it, and we each take turns asking a question… things like ‘favourite toy’ or ‘favourite birthday gift’ and ‘happiest moment of the year’. It gets us thinking about our happy times and being grateful.”  

Other Ideas for Conversation Starters

– Download Focus On The Family’s ‘Back To The Table’ Conversation Starters 

– Grab a book like Gary Chapman’s 101 Conversation Starters For Families for ideas

 

8 – The “Highs And Lows” Chat

Family Chatting

A review-of-the day tradition, like “Highs and Lows”, is another popular one that gets families chatting.

Marni, Hope 103.2 listener: “Our family ritual is simply asking the high and low of the day, around the dinner table. It’s a great chance to check in on everyone. Often the high will be “right now.” 

Dan, Hope 103.2 announcer: “We do “highs and lows” each night. Each person shares about their lowest part of the day and highest part of the day.   

 

9 – The ‘Grace’ Prayer

Saying Grace

You don’t have to be an expert in prayer to say a quick “grace”, thanking God for the meal in front of you. It can increase togetherness, and gratefulness.

Shelley, Hope Media sales co-ordinator: “My family holds hands around the table and prays before every meal. Even when we are out at a restaurant or Maccas or any eating place, we still do it.”

 

10 – The Phone-Free Zone

Phone Off Hook

If you’re a family of tech-junkies, consider a no-phones-at-the-table policy, so your family time isn’t easily interrupted. It’s the modern-day-equivalent of “taking the phone off the hook”. 

Ally, Hope Media’s events coordinator: “We would always “take the phone off the hook” when we sat down for dinner. Mum saw that 30 minutes or so as the priority.”

 

11 – The Dinner Table Giggles

Laughing together

Dinner time doesn’t have to be serious and formal. If you have kids, encourage them to have fun and they’ll grow to love family meal time.

Clare, Hope Media online writer (me again!): “As a kid my brothers and I would get the giggles at the dinner table and sometimes have to exit the dining room, run to a far corner of the house and fall on the floor in laughter. To my parents’ credit, we didn’t get in too much trouble. These are some of my happiest family memories.”

Kathryn, Hope 103.2 listener: “My brother would always do sneaky, hilarious things that only I saw, and I would laugh so hard drink would come out my nose or I would spit my food all over him. Once he threw his paper napkin into my sisters cup at the other end of the table and she didn’t notice for ages until she had a drink and over-reacted. I almost died laughing.”

 

12 – The Family Board Game

Board Games

While everyone’s at the table, seize the opportunity to play together. Clear the plates and make room for board game or card game. Fun has no age limit.

Erin, Hope 103.2 announcer: “We have mass board games and card games after a big family meal. We tend to break off into our demographics. Grandma and the oldies play a game of euchre, and the rest of us play Apples To Apples, Articulate, Trivial Pursuit, or Pictionary.”