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8 tips to get your kids through big family dinners

Sanity savers: Our staff and readers offer their best tips for getting through big family dinners with kids — this holiday and beyond!

By Today's Parent staff
8 tips to get your kids through big family dinners

8 tips to get your kids through big family dinners

Family dinners

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

A version of this article appeared in our December 2012 issue with the headline "Family dinners," p. 22.

8 tips to get your kids through big family dinnersPhoto: SJLocke/iStockphoto

A table of their own

"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, Art Director, Today's Parent Magazine

8 tips to get your kids through big family dinnersPhoto: SJLocke/iStockphoto

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Plenty of play time

"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

8 tips to get your kids through big family dinnersPhoto: kate_sept2004/iStockphoto

Get creative!

"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, Northamptonshire, UK

8 tips to get your kids through big family dinnersPhoto: TeresaKasprzycka/iStockphoto

Tablecloth craft

"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.

8 tips to get your kids through big family dinnersPhoto: vgajic/iStockphoto

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Dinner and a movie

"This may not be a popular choice, but we put on a movie for the kids in the family room so they can eat their dinner while watching. There's plenty of time for visiting with grandparents, aunts and uncles before and after dinner."
Lisa Castillo, London, ONT.

8 tips to get your kids through big family dinnersPhoto: Josef Phillip/iStockphoto

Playful placemats

"Use colouring sheets and mini chalkboards as placemats for kids. They make great entertainment and give little ones something to do before and after eating."
Lisa Peters-Cornelissen, Aurora, ONT.

8 tips to get your kids through big family dinnersPhoto: bokan76/iStockphoto

Toys at the table?

"We allow toys at the table until the 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

8 tips to get your kids through big family dinnersPhoto: largeformat4x5/iStockphoto

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Sanity-saving snacks

"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.

8 tips to get your kids through big family dinnersPhoto: omgimages/iStockphotos

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8 tips to get your kids through big family dinners
This article was originally published on Nov 06, 2014

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