Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Meal-Time Activities: Restaurant Style

by Tiffany Rudd
I recently saw a picture on pinterest of a mom crying into a chair saying, “Why do they want dinner every single night?” I laughed because it was funny, but sadly, I also know exactly how she was feeling! Making meals day in and day out can become taxing and, let’s be honest...boring...for parents and kids!  That’s why this next activity is a favorite in our family. It takes an everyday activity and without much additional effort turns it into a fun and memorable experience. It’s dinner - Restaurant Style!
This particular restaurant was "Jammies Only!" 
To create a basic restaurant-style dinner, all you need to add to your meal is a restaurant name/sign, a table cloth, menus, and the help of your “staff”. 
First, give your restaurant a name. Of course kids are the best at this part. We’ve had “Rudd’s Rockin’ Restaurant,” “Cameron’s Pasta Party,” and “Brooklyn’s Dancing Diner.” If your children are older, they can create the sign. Cameron has just recently started writing, so I usually just type the sign and menus and let the kids decorate them. 
How elaborate you get with the menu is up to you. Sometime I let the kids choose what we will make and serve, sometimes I just type up what I already had planned. It’s fun to add extra options to the menu like...
Main Course Choices:
    Spaghetti & Meatballs
    Gross Green Goop
    Super Old Leftovers
Then just set a nice table and put your kids to work as waiters/waitresses! Cameron and Brooklyn love to wear aprons and use a little notebook to “write down” each person’s order. They take turns getting orders, filling drinks, and helping bring plates to the table.
When we all sit down to eat there are usually a bunch of goofy comments about how much we are enjoying the restaurant. “Isn’t the staff here friendly?” or “Wow, they really have a world-class chef in this place!” and of course, “This is much better than eating at home!” Sometimes it really does seem like just the change in routine makes the food taste better. 
So, there you have the basics of a restaurant-style dinner, an easy way to make any weeknight one to remember! The kids love the fun departure from the norm and mom and dad love the lack of a real bill to pay at the end. 

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