Making Mealtimes FUN! {5 Super Fun Family Dinner Ideas}

By Kelly, Contributing Writer

Sometimes we get so busy with the demands of daily life that we can easily forget to have some good ole-fashioned family FUN, especially when it comes to sharing meals together.

The remedy? Well, besides the obvious rule of not overbooking our calendars … some purposeful planning may also be in order. Thinking ahead and scheduling a little family fun at mealtimes can reduce the urge to eat-n-run, and instead help to ensure more quality time together!

Here are some fun mealtime ideas I’ve collected along the way that bring a little pizzazz to the table. Sure, you can’t make every meal this exciting, but why not aim to plan something special once a month. These types of family-centered activities not only result in some short-term fun, but also help to build joyful memories that last a lifetime!

1. Schedule a Themed Dinner Night!

This can be anything from something as simple as a cultural-themed dinner such as Hawaiian Night (or a boy’s dream dinner Ninja Night), to a favorite bible-themed dinner series like The Days of Creation Dinner or book-themed meals like Green Eggs & Ham.

Another fun theme is Medieval Times Night. Set the mood by serving grape juice in goblets and have the kids dress up like knights and princesses. And of course, there’s our personal favorite – Backwards Dinner Night, where everything is done in reverse!

Looking for a simpler, yet fun dinner theme? How about Breakfast for Dinner – it’s another one of our favorites. And it’s not just the menu that’s breakfast-themed; we are too! Everyone has to come to dinner dressed in their PJs (teddy bears optional). 

2. Host a Banana Split Breakfast Buffet


Speaking of PJs, waking up with a Banana Split Breakfast Buffet is such an easy way to make breakfast time fun! There’s just something exciting about a build-your-own “oatmeal sundae” that gets the conversation rolling.

And you can certainly run with this idea to create many more build-your-own breakfast ideas, such as a Build Your Own Breakfast Burrito, or dinner-themed buffet-style meals such as a Fully-Loaded Baked Potato Buffet with all the fixins’ ready to be loaded-up on a fresh baked potato. And who doesn’t love a Make Your Own Pizza Buffet!

3. Plan a Picnic – indoors or out!


Ahh, the great outdoors! Whether it’s the park, beach, woods or even the backyard, there’s something about enjoying a picnic amid the beauty of God’s creation that really spurs on opportunities for family fun. We just pack some simple chicken salad sandwiches along with a couple of healthy sides and off we go!

And in cases where the weather isn’t cooperating, why not set-up a fun picnic area in your home, … just spread a blanket out on the floor, download some nature sounds to listen to and have some fun together enjoying a lovely indoor picnic!

4. Cook with your Kiddos!


Meals are always more fun when you’ve spent time preparing them together! That’s why I’m such a big fan of Kids in the Kitchen. It’s not only a blessed way to spend time together, it’s a wonderful opportunity to teach an important practical life skill, as well as the importance of eating healthy! So why not plan a little time to read the classic book Stone Soup together and create a batch of your own.

Short on time? How about baking-up a quick-n-easy dessert together, like Nut Butter Cookies. Then freeze some for use in your kids’ lunchboxes throughout the week! And whatever you decide to cook together, be sure to commend your little chef, as you sit down as a family to enjoy his or her special creation!

5. Invite some new friends over to share a meal!


Inspired by my friend Ruth’s recent post, Discovering the Heart of True Hospitality, we’ve been making it a point as a family to put this into practice together at least once a month. Why not invite a new family from church over for lunch after services, or invite a neighbor that you’ve been meaning to get to know better over for dinner? Remember to keep the meal simple, so you can relax and enjoy the blessings that come from sharing your home and your heart with others.

What are some fun ways you enjoy mealtimes with your family?

About Kelly

Kelly loves the Lord, her family, and sharing her passion for gluten-free, real food cooking and meal planning with others. She is a full-time homemaker who loves spending time with her awesome hubby and two sweet boys. Kelly's real food journey began four years ago when she was diagnosed with a chronic auto-immune disorder. Since then, the Lord has blessed her with an amazing recovery - a testament to His grace and the health benefits of eating real food. Kelly shares her knowledge and love for gluten-free whole food cooking at The Nourishing Home, Facebook and Google.

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Comments

  1. Themed dinner nights are so much fun! My family enjoys these too! I just noticed that you tagged my family’s Ninja night in your blog–thanks! Sorry I never got back to you! I’ve been a little MIA from my blog for the past 2 months and just trying to get back going:)

  2. How fun to read through this post and come across a photo of my family at the end! :) Ruth is my sis-in-law and I think this photo was taken about three years ago when we were visiting from out of state.

    Thank you for a great post, Kelly! (And thank you, Stephanie, for creating this fantastic blog.) I’m a regular reader of KOTH but rarely comment. I’ve learned so much and been inspired often by what is shared here!

    • Hi, Abby! How fun to meet you! I love Ruth! She was my roomie at a bloggers conference last fall and it was such a joy to get to know her better. That’s where I also met Stephanie, which was another special treat! God is so good! Thanks for taking the time to leave a note and for being a part of this post to encourage families to make the most of mealtimes by fellowshipping and connecting with not only each other, but with others as well. Lots of blessings, Kelly

  3. EmmaGeorgina says:

    Hi! I have just begun praying about my families health and the Lord is showing me that whole grains and veggies are a real gap. I am wondering if you think if we can feed 6 naturally on $125 a week which is what I try to spend or do I need to think about spending more? Also–what are your favorite resources for whole grain foods that my kids may like? Thank you!

    • Hi, EmmaGeorgina! So wise of you to pray and seek the Lord’s direction. His word tells us to bring all our cares to Him for He cares for us. And so He will certainly honor your prayer to feed your family healthier as you seek His guidance.

      I know Stephanie has written a ton here on this site about how to keep your food budget in check while eating healthy. So I encourage you to check out her many resources, such as this article, as an example:
      http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2012/01/what-i-would-feed-my-family-on-a-monthly-budget-of-250.html
      Talk about a tight budget – this post outlines what she would feed her family on just $250 a month!

      And regarding your question about whole grains – the best and most economical whole grain foods are the ones you make yourself. Most kids enjoy whole grain pancakes, breads and muffins, as well as brown rice and oats (such as oatmeal). Personally, I prefer to work with spelt and kamut when making whole grain baked goods, as they tend to be less heavy tasting than whole wheat (in my opinion) and my boys love nearly anything I bake using these two whole grains. So I encourage you to explore the whole grain recipes here on this page, as well as via many of the contributing authors here at Keeper of the Home.

      Many blessings to you, Kelly

  4. Great ideas! It is so easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to making dinner. How fun for the little ones to make their own breakfast burritos or dress up for a themed meal. I will definitely use some of these ideas. Thanks!

    • Thanks, Kimberly! Appreciate you taking the time to leave a kind note! I hope your little ones (and you and your hubby) enjoy incorporating some of these ideas into your mealtimes together! Blessings, Kelly

  5. I love these ideas! We do a Goofy Dinner Night once a week, sometimes eating our meal with tongs or giant serving utensils. It is SO funny! I made a post out of my ideas if anyone is interested in some more: http://www.canigetanotherbottleofwhine.com/2012/10/goofy-dinner-night.html

    • Kate, your Goofy Dinner night is so funny! I’m sure your kiddos are going to recount these stories with much fondness when they have children of their own. I just love hearing about ways families are building happy memories! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Love the picnic idea we do that one a lot …just throw a blanket on the floor n boom instant picnic in the kitchen!

  7. What fun ideas! I’ve thought of doing a couple of these; now I just need to be intentional to put them on the meal calendar so I don’t forget! We also enjoy having tea parties at my daughter’s small table and taking picnics to parks or even the backyard.

    • Thanks, Jenn! I used to have tea parties with my boys when they were really little, now that they’re older, they just don’t seem as interested – can’t imagine why? LOL! Can I come to one of yours! I miss them!!!

  8. Jacqueline says:

    These are some really neat ideas! By the way, I agree with doing these only once a month or so. Not just for your sanity, but because if you did them all the time, they wouldn’t be special anymore.

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