This post represents a compensated partnership with The Family Dinner Project. All opinions are my own.
Family dinners are sacred in our home. I know it all sounds like a bunch of hokum, but in this chaotic thing we call life, sitting down together around the table is how my family comes back together after a crazy day to reconnect and just be. I grew up in two opposing viewpoints of the family dinner — not having them with my mother and father, but sitting down for every meal with my grandparents after my parents divorced. (We lived with my Grandparents.)
I prefer the family dinner. It’s a time to discuss what’s going on in our lives, share anecdotes of our day and connect. This connection, to me, is the lifeblood of our family and what keeps us strong at the core. The conversations are irreplaceable and we learn more from each other, and about each other, than we would at any other time during our hectic days.
The purpose behind the Family Dinner Project is to inject food, fun and conversation about things that matter. I know, that during the difficult time after my parents’ divorce, the family meal with my Grandparents is what held me together most days and helped shape me into the woman I am today
Over the past 15 years, research has shown what parents have known for a long time: Sharing a fun family meal is good for the spirit, brain and health of all family members. Recent studies link regular family meals with the kinds of behaviors that parents want for their children: higher grade-point averages, resilience and self-esteem. Additionally, family meals are linked to lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, eating disorders and depression.
With a mission to inspire families to enjoy food, fun, and conversation together, The Family Dinner Project is honoring Giving Tuesday (December 2) and the holiday season by inspiring dinner-oriented acts of giving.
My own family discusses giving back quite a bit, and my own son, inspired by these conversations over the years, now donates 20% of any birthday and Christmas monies he’s gifted to help feed those in need. It’s his own personal philanthropy, one that was shaped around the family dinner table.
This year you’re invited to kick off the #FamilyDinnerForward initiative by participating in a fun contest. Simply snap a dinner/giving-related photo and share it via Twitter or Instagram between December 2-16 using the hashtag #FamilyDinnerForward. Use it to inspire families to give — within your family or to those outside your own nucleus.
Here are some examples of dinner-oriented acts of giving to help get you started:
Cook (or buy) a meal for a neighbor or someone in need. For me, this was ingrained from birth. I grew up in the South and we feed people. It’s our way of saying “I love you” or “I’m here for you.”
Invite someone for family dinner. We have people over for dinner and our holiday meals are known for being filled with people that would otherwise be alone. Yes, friends, that’s how we have Thanksgiving and Christmas with 100+.
Collect and donate food items to a food pantry. This is something we started at an early stage with our son and it’s something he continues to do by donating part of his birthday and Christmas monies.
Cook a meal together at home, where everyone has a job. This is a gift to the person who primarily does the cooking! But seriously, we all pitch in and help, especially on busy weeknights. It takes all of the pressure off of one person and results in some good natured ribbing and joking.
Give the gift of meaningful conversation. Check out the conversation starters at http://thefamilydinnerproject.org/giving-tuesday/
Giving Tuesday is just around the corner. So join in on the giving and receiving! To participate in #familydinnerforward, simply snap a dinner/giving-related photo and share it via Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #familydinnerforward. Share as many photos as you like and all photos tagged on Twitter or Instagram with #familydinnerforward between December 2-16 will be entered to win prizes from Lenox! Two winners will be drawn at random and will receive four 4-piece plate settings of the Lenox Entertain 365 pattern of their choice (estimated value of $344-400 depending on pattern chosen)! US entrants only.