Make mealtimes easier — and more fun — by organizing a dinner club with other families. Parents get dinner on the table while kids play, then everyone comes together for a big family meal. Learn how to start your own family dinner club.
First things first — decide who’s in the club. To make it manageable, keep it between 6 and 16 people, and rotate the host family every time. Then decide on logistics: Will you meet once a month or every Sunday? What time will dinner be served? Will dinner be served family style or buffet style?
Once you’ve got the details worked out, invite guests to join the club with this free EVITE invitation or another family gathering invitation. Under “Start Time,” click on “Add Repeating Event” to make the invitation recurring on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on how often you want to meet.
You can also ask guests to contribute dishes on your invitation. Hosts should expect to make the main course, while guests can sign up to bring apps, sides, salad or dessert (such as this three-ingredient frozen treat).
Under “Event Conversation” in the “Manage Invitation,” bar on your already created and sent EVITE invitation, click on the red bag and list the dishes you’d like guests to bring. When guests view the invitation, they can sign up to bring a requested item. You can also use your invitation to address allergies or dietary restrictions and let guests know how many servings they should plan to provide.
Families can bring food to each gathering in storage containers, then use them again to take home leftovers.
Consider choosing a theme for each meeting (such as comfort food, Mexican, backyard BBQ or make-your-own-pizza night), then make your meal to match.
When it’s your turn to host, a family-friendly buffet bar such as this potato bar, featuring baked potatoes with an assortment of toppings from bacon bits to shredded cheddar cheese, is a sure hit. Offer your toppings in small containers for easy presentation and storage.
For dessert, stick to something simple like this easier-than-it-looks cranberry granita.
Keep decor simple and kid-friendly: Lay down a patterned tablecloth to help hide food stains. Then let kids cut flower bouquets or branches from your backyard and arrange them in vases in the center of your dining table. For child-safe candlelight, purchase LED pillar candles or tea lights.
Get kids involved by letting them set the table or help with dinner party prep.
Kid-focused activities help keep little ones occupied. Lay out a jigsaw puzzle and a pack of cards so kids can play games like Go Fish. Or consider playing a party game to keep kids entertained: After everyone’s seated, instruct one player to close his or her eyes. While their eyes are closed, everyone else takes one item off the table (such as a spoon, napkin or salt shaker) and hides it in their lap. The first player then opens his or her eyes and tries to guess what’s missing from the table.
While parents are prepping dinner, you might also have another adult gather the kids in a circle and read them a book. Storytime can be a good way to help kids settle down before it’s time to take a seat at the dinner table and eat.
Parents can also share recipes with each other. As the club organizer, gather recipes from each participant each time you meet. Before long, you’ll have shared enough dishes for a family recipe book.
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