Family dinner is more than just an opportunity to make sure that the kids aren’t subsisting on soda and crisps, it’s also an important time to connect as a family. These days it seems that weeks can go by in the blink of an eye, and with everyone’s ‘over-scheduled’ schedules to contend with, it may never have been more important than now to lock in a regular family dinner.
START A TRADITION
Why not make like Barack and Michelle and incorporate a regular ‘day report’ at the dinner table? At family dinners in the White House, each member of the First Family gives an account of his or her high and low point that day – the Roses and the Thorns. Or set family dinner night apart from the usual hustle and bustle that comes with weekday mealtimes and light candles – little kids will love the treat of snuffing out them out at the end of the meal (and flattering light at the end of a crazy day is sometimes just want I need, frankly).
SET THE RULES
To make family dinners ‘stick’ sometimes a few ground rules need to be set. One of easiest may also have the most impact – unplug. No devices allowed at the table (that means parents too!). The same goes for reading material, toys, and the TV in the background. We’re also fans of picking a day of the week and sticking to it. Try for a standing ‘family date night’ and mark it in your all diaries (even Dads!) and plan around it – not the other way around.
GET READY, GET SET!
Get the kids in the mood for a family sit-down with these crazy cute “Get Set” placemats from Tickitey Boo. Let the kids set the table and even customize everyone’s setting with the fun stickers. It not only keeps ‘em busy but it also teaches a thing or two about where to put the fork, knife and spoon.
Take it up a notch and get the table talking with YourChatMats. Strategically crafted by a psychologist, a social worker and a graphic designer, these placemats are designed to jump-start meaningful conversation with their clever conversation-staring questions, quotes, dares, facts, and ideas on every mat. We love that in addition to getting everyone talking, connecting, and having fun, kids will also learn a bit about the ebb and flow of conversation and that the company is more important than the food.
Also check out the Huffington Post’s Family Dinner Download where they highlight a compelling news story to spark discussion at your table. Past topics (which include thoughtful discussion questions to get you going) include everything from what makes a hero and battling fears, to the Wall Street Occupation and understanding the death penalty.
While we don’t want to use the word ‘bribe’, we all know a little incentive never hurts. Dino-shaped bamboo cutlery, a hilarious “food face plate” that encourages ‘dressing up’ with food, and cheeky little trainer chopsticks all do the trick! And don’t forget your BPA-free plates. We’re loving the groovy ones from Smiling Planet made of 100% recycled food grade plastic.
Family dinner doesn’t always have to be around your own dining table. We’re in favour of whatever it takes to get everyone seated together to enjoy a meal! Here are few of our favourite family-friendly restaurants in Hong Kong:
Blue Smoke BBQ: A vintage jukebox, insanely amazing ribs, and scrumptious pies that are de-lish all combine in one of our favourite casual dining spots in Hong Kong and the perfect spot for dinner with the fam.
3/F, Grand Progress Building, 15-16 Lan Kwai Fong, Central (Tel: 2816 9018).
Classified: We’re huge fans of the Euro-style menu at Classified, and their Happy Valley location is a great pick for a fun family night out.
13 Yuk Sau Street, Happy Valley (Tel: 2891 3454)
Fish Bar at the Marriott: An alfresco oasis! Kids love watching the fish in the pond while waiting for their fish ‘n chips. Parents love the outside bar feel sitting within a wooden decked gazebo.
JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway (Tel: 2810 8366)
Gusto: This Happy Valley hot spot for hipster parents has some seriously comfy comfort food – don’t miss the s’mores!!
G/F, 41 Yik Yam Street, Happy Valley (Tel: 2838 2689)
Isola: Pizzas and pastas galore for the kiddies. A slick atmosphere for you. Everyone wins!
Shop 3071-75, Level 3, IFC Mall, Central, Hong Kong (Tel: 2383 8765)
Oolaa: 6,000sqf of relaxed dining with big comfy booths the whole family can sink into. Kids can check out the wood-fired pizza oven do its thing. You’ll love the huge menu with something for everyone.
G/F, Bridges Street, CentreStage, Soho/Mid-Levels, Hong Kong (Tel: 2803 2083)
Posto Pubblico: Yummy Italian food and a homey atmosphere that’s always buzzing (so you don’t have to feel tooooo horrified if Jr. has a mid-meal meltdown). Another bonus: the always-super-fab soundtrack that takes the family dinner vibe up a notch.
G/F, 28 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong (Tel: 2577 7160)
And don’t forget these TRIED ‘N TRUE CHAINS with locations all over HK Island and Kowloon: Pizza Express, Dan Ryan’s, Fat Angelos, Wildfire, and California Pizza Kitchen.