Creating a Family Meal Ritual

Creating a family meal ritual whether it's family dinner or another meal

Family meal times are a great place for connection, catchup and comfort. Like all things it changes over time as our family grows and changes. It’s a chance to put our values into action.

We wish for good

  • conversation
  • food
  • and a pleasant atmosphere

Building family rhythms help families create those 3cs of connection, catchup and comfort. The family meal time is anytime of the day that you want. As a family it’s tended to be the dinner time but we have family meal times at breakfast or lunch just as easily.

Why a Family Meal Ritual anyway?

  • We love the coming together of everyone participating in the meal. There may have been one person cooking but everyone has a hand in making the meal a family effort. This together thing helps families to know their strength as a unit and how we each are needed separately.
  • We love how we can repeat the same experience wherever we rest, be it hotel or holiday. We do this one thing the same.
  • We love our eclectic props and tools that each tell a story of children, friends, family and places.
  • We know what to expect– there’s time to anticipate and participate.
  • Whatever has happened we come together and do this thing in love.


Atmosphere at the table

Over the years we’ve found that you can plan for a good atmosphere, a little bit. There will always be curve balls but have a little something ready comes easily after a time and the children catch on and follow the lead. Now with five of us there’s always something to talk about.

We ask that everyone comes to the table ready to commune.  We have the giggly kids who arrive, still playing and knock over things and the mad kids who are still mad about something and would prefer to fold their arms and harumpf all through dinner.

We ask that the kids come to the table ready to be at the table asking that they resolve disputes enough to be civil and calm down enough to not be a liability to the things on the table. We’re not perfect but this has helped our atmosphere.


family meal ritual setup

Like contributions, we find it best to know who is doing what to helping set up the table. This is a recent thing for us. We used to let them have a free for all, in fact I quite like the negotiation skills they were developing but there is always at least one who gets the raw end of the stick and right now we’re helping them out from getting the worse jobs. Plus some children hog certain jobs and refuse to let them go. We’ll rotate between free for all and assigned rotating setups.

Collection and Setup

family meal ritual ideas

When you know what you’re doing it’s easy to do your job, know when something is missing and who it belongs to. The kids help each other out as one finishes up homework, colouring a picture a brother might complete their task. It’s an easy way to show kindness without expecting praise and reward. It also reduces the fighting over what which anything. It’s amazing at this sometimes cranky time, squabbles erupt over minor things. Right now they decide and have full control over their area and frankly they love it!

Gathering- pause, thankful practice

Family meal ritual ideas. Connecting at the  dinner table

We all gather at the table that’s fully laid. Many times Sometimes we need a pause to bring us all to the table. Slow breaths in and out or a 3- 5 second silence usually brings us all present away from the giggles, to do list making in our heads and not humming that song.

We say Grace using these prayer sticks.  We’ve also added to this list

  • Grandparents
  • Aunts and Uncles
  • Cousins
  • Family nearby and far away
  • Friends
  • Each of our names
  • Teachers
  • Helpers
  • Those who are hungry
  • Those who are hurting or sick
  • Those who need a hug and a friend

If we pull our name we put it back. Sometimes we get an off the cuff prayer, one person or everyone. Whatever works for the moment. All these activities lead up to the eating. The anticipation and joy of being together.

Follow my board for more ideas on family atmosphere
Follow Mel Avila’s board Family Atmosphere on Pinterest.

Join us for Part 2- From conversation to the end of the meal- Creating a Family Meal Ritual

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Intentionally creating your family haven today


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