Themed Family Dinner Night Ideas will help you spice up your evening meal and create new memories along the way.
“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” – Ronald Reagan
Every night we sit down and spend time with our favorite people in the world. Adding themed meals to the nightly routine will give lasting memories that your children can hand down through the generations.
I was watching a YouTube interview with a famous chef and restaurant owner. She was discussing in the interview how important family meals have been throughout history.
Most of our lives are running at full-speed, so she feels that sitting down together as a family and giving the care to create memorable meals through the food and setting is something paramount to living a happy life.
I think she had the right idea. Family meals are important, but sometimes their importance becomes lost in our everyday routines.
So I decided to put together some Themed Family Dinner Night Ideas, with a few dinner conversation starters in case you need them.
You can add one or several of these ideas to create a little variety to your evenings.
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Here are the Themed Family Dinner Night Ideas:
1) Around the World.
Why settle with the same type of food every night when you can savor the dishes from around the world?
If you decide to make this a weekly tradition, you can feature dishes from one country every week. You can have some of the ingredients that are in the recipes as a show-and-tell.
A mini-globe can be the centerpiece of your themed evening. You can show your family where the country is on the map.
Another idea is to have an evening that features the recipes that each state in the United States is famous for, instead of profiling a country.
Some ideas for Around the World Dinners:
An Evening in Paris
Welcome to Italy
Take me to the Caribbean
Dinner conversation ideas for Around the World:
The conversation can be around the country that your recipes came from. Discuss what holidays they celebrate, what a day in the life of someone that lives there is like, and things they traditionally do together as a family.
2) Welcome to the 1950’s.
Take your family back in time to a different era. You can feature a different decade for each themed night.
Look on the internet for recipes that were served during that period of time and encourage your family members to dress appropriately. You can help the small children pick out their outfits.
If you have any family heirlooms from the decade your featuring, you can bring them to the table as decor.
Dinner conversation ideas for Welcome to the 1950s:
Talk about how some of the more unusual food dishes that were popular in that era, what different clothing items were popular, and how kids entertained themselves during that decade.
You can also get a list of the top names given to children during that decade and unusual phrases that were popular. How about playing some music from the era you’re showcasing?
After dinner, you can play games that were favorites during that decade.
3) Mexican Fiesta Night.
You might already have Taco Tuesday as a rotating theme for your family dinners, but why not take it up a notch and create a night that everyone will love?
How about wearing a sombrero when you put together your meal and play festive traditional Mexican music in the background?
Each Mexican Fiesta night can feature a different dishes like fajitas, enchiladas, tostadas, tacos, quesadillas, and burritos.
Traditional desserts like flan and deep-fried ice cream would top the evening off in style.
You can go a step further and make homemade salsa, taco seasoning mix, and fajita seasoning mix. How about teaching the kids how to make tortillas?
For a craft project before the dinner, the kids can help you make a piñata to use as a table centerpiece.
Dinner conversation ideas for Mexican Fiesta night:
Find out how to say all the things on your dinner menu in Spanish and have everyone memorize the words. Talk about the customs and traditions in Mexico.
4) Chopped – a Spin Off.
Have each family member go into the pantry or refrigerator and secretly pick out an ingredient. Everyone reveals their chosen ingredient at the same time, and the head chef of the night gets to come up with a culinary masterpiece using those ingredients.
This idea will help stretch your creative juices and produce memorable meals that no one will soon forget!
Dinner conversation ideas for Chopped – a Spin-Off:
You can talk about all the ingredients used for the meal. How the produce is grown, how wheat becomes flour, what it takes to raise healthy chickens for eggs, and how factories are able to can, bottle, and package items at a brisk pace.
Bonus: Set up a factory tour if there’s one available in your area. I’ve been on a soup-making factory tour, chocolate-making tour, and I’ve been at Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream facility sampling their flavors.
5) All Our Favorites.
This family dinner night features nothing but your family’s favorite recipes. From appetizer to dessert, each dish is the best of the best.
You can make this a weekly meal and switch off between family members getting to pick their favorite items to serve.
My favorite recipe on my blog is the Best Meatloaf Recipe you’ll ever have. You can find it here.
How about adding Grandma’s favorite cake or Uncle Jim’s favorite salad to your meal as a reminder of family members that are unable to be there?
Dinner conversation ideas for All Our Favorites night:
Have several prompters to ask everyone what their favorite things are. For instance:
What is your favorite family activity?
What is your favorite time of the day? Day of the week?
What was your favorite toy when you were little, and why was it so special?
What’s been your favorite gift so far?
Why do you like winter?
6) Fondue Night.
Fondue dinners were common in 18th century Switzerland. Winters were harsh, and food was hard to come by. Farmers used what little they had to make meals, and that’s how cheese fondue was born.
The family gathered around the fireplace to share a warm meal. They dipped pieces of bread, meat, and vegetables into a mixture of cheese, garlic, and a little wine to make their small portions go further.
Dessert can be chocolate fondue with pieces of fruit to dip.
Dinner conversation ideas for Fondue Night:
You can talk about 18th century Switzerland and their traditions and lifestyle. Discuss life on the farm and what type of chores the family would partake in, how families would spend their evenings during the harsh winters, and what places you would visit if your family went on a trip to Switzerland.
7) Farmers Market.
Buying local food is good for your family, right for the community, and good for the farmers who practice sustainability.
Creating a Farmers Market dinner night regularly will not only benefit your family, but it also helps all those lives you touch by spending your money to help support local food suppliers.
Make your meal out of the ingredients you bought from local farms. A fun idea would be to make a centerpiece made out of fresh fruits and vegetables that you will use later in another meal.
Dinner conversation ideas for Farmers Market Night:
Growing your own fruits and vegetables is a fun conversation for all members of your family. You can discuss how long it takes for each item to grow until it’s ready to be picked.
You could also talk about how many varieties there are of each item, information about local farms and their practices, and how taking care of our land is so important to the environment.
Dinner time would be the perfect time to bring up ideas on what to grow at your home for future meals.
Alice Waters (the chef of Chez Panisse and founder of the Slow Food Movement) talks about how since the beginning of time we have been eating what’s locally available and what’s in season, taking care of the land, eating around the table with family and friends, and celebrating the harvest.
She went to France when she was 19, and she learned the value of slow food culture. You always set the table and took pride in making a beautiful place to gather together and share a meal.
I love the idea of bringing that way of living back. It’s essential to foster gratefulness in our homes for the food we eat, the farmers that grow it, and the nutrition we receive by eating fresh picked produce.
8) Under the Sea.
Pick one night of the week to feature seafood. There are so many different ideas for meals that your whole family will love.
Fish and chips, shrimp pasta, clam chowder, miso-glazed salmon, fish tacos, seafood bisque, and crab cakes are just some of the ideas to pick from.
A clear glass bowl filled with shells would make a simple and beautiful table centerpiece for this theme.
Dinner conversation ideas for Under the Sea dinner night:
It’s amazing that under the water that surrounds our countries is an entirely different world. I’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to see incredible things under the water in my lifetime.
Learning about this beautiful world as a family is a perfect way to spend an evening. You can focus on the type of seafood you use in your meal or expand your conversation to the ecosystem that lies below the blue sea.
9) Fireside Supper.
When I was in my 20’s, I went to my cousin’s house for dinner. It was one of the most amazing dinners of my life that I still remember.
Our food was placed in foil packs and was cooking in the fireplace. My cousin’s wife was busy making homemade pasta as we talked to her, and beautiful music played in the background.
To say they were ahead of their time would be an understatement. No one I had ever met before knew how to create such a cozy environment around a meal like they did that night.
Even now, 30 years later, you don’t really hear of anyone cooking dinner in their fireplace.
I’ve been watching interviews lately on YouTube with Alice Waters ,as I mentioned earlier. She loves to cook her meals in her fireplace. When someone who was interviewing came over for breakfast, she prepared an egg in a cast-iron ladle with a little olive oil. Rustically simple, but magical at the same time.
Another idea is to cook Hobo packs of food in the fireplace.
If you don’t have a wood-burning fireplace at home, you can cook your fireside suppers outdoors in a fire pit.
Dinner conversation ideas for Fireside Suppers:
There is a product on Amazon that I love. It is a deck of cards with questions to ask your family as a conversation starter. It’s the perfect way to create a lively conversation on a cozy evening at home.
10) Breakfast for Dinner.
Every once in a while, there’s something wonderful about having breakfast for dinner. Everyone can come to the dinner table already dressed in their pajamas for ultimate comfort.
Pancakes, eggs and bacon, and French toast are just some of the tasty dishes to serve.
Dinner conversation ideas for Breakfast for Dinner:
You can discuss breakfast choices from around the world. Children will be amazed to learn that not everyone has the same sense of what the perfect breakfast looks like.
11) Soup and Salad Night.
I love soup and salad. Put them together, and you have a little slice of heaven, in my opinion.
Winter is the perfect time to dedicate one night a week to Soup and Salad Night. You can expand this idea by adding chili and stews to the rotation as well.
Here’s the recipe for my favorite soup: Rustic Hungarian Mushroom Soup. So yummy!
Small dishes filled with soup toppings to add to your bowls is a fun idea to add to the table. Sour cream, chives, and homemade croutons are just some ideas.
Dinner conversation ideas for Soup and Salad Nights:
You can talk about some of the ingredients in the soup and salad and how they help your body perform at it’s best.
12) A Night of Appetizers.
There’s something about appetizers that makes everything better. Creating a family meal composed of nothing but appetizers would make your taste buds sing.
Bruschetta, deviled eggs, won tons, egg rolls, grilled vegetable kabobs with dip, chicken wings, onion rings, potato skins, and popcorn shrimp are just some of the ideas to pick from.
Dinner Conversation Ideas for A Night of Appetizers:
We’ve reached the end of Themed Family Dinner Night Ideas. I hope you enjoyed it.
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