Activities

How to keep your kids on their best behaviour during family holiday meals

Ever experienced "worst-case scenario" with your kids at a family dinner? Here are some holiday meal tips and tricks from parents like you.

“Last Christmas my mom set up a kids’ table with a gingerbread train filled with healthy snacks. They were thrilled to have their own special spot.” —Alicia Kowalewski, Toronto

“Shape food into faces, animals or vehicles, and let the kids drink from plastic wine glasses. The creative food makes eating more fun, and the glasses will make them feel (and hopefully act) more grown up.”—Emma Garratt, Northhamptonshire, UK

“Use coloured sheets and mini chalkboard placemats for kids. They make great entertainment and give little ones something to do before and after eating.”—Lisa Peters-Cornelissen, Aurora, Ont.

“We allow toys at the table until food is served. We’ve used the iPhone, dinky cars, wooden trains, McDonald’s toys, mini colouring books and I Spy bags. It’s made life more enjoyable at family gatherings with my large brood.”—Katherine Caine-Pollock, Ottawa, Ont.

“When there are lots of kids involved, we let them play right up until it’s time to eat. After they’ve had enough, they can go play again until dessert. It works great because they are not confined to their seats.”—Sarah Nason, Hillsborough, NB

“Use a plain white tablecloth for the kids’ table, and let them use fabric markers to decorate it before and after dinner. Use it year after year, and have kids write their holiday wishes as they get older.”—Ashley Dinan, Burlington, Ont.

“I usually feed my boys ahead of time and pack tons of snacks that I know they love in case they don’t eat what’s being served.”—Ashley Bernier, Newmarket, Ont.

A version of this article appeared in our December 2012 issue with the headline “Family Dinners,” p. 22.

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