It can be so amazingly fun to have a good family dinner. I want it to be good like that every night so...
1. I invested in some funky, beautiful serving trays, new plates, etc. Food tastes better when it looks beautiful. Case in point: We have a couple over who come over regularly. Usually, we talk about other things as dinner begins. This time it was, "Wow, the meal looks incredible! What a great spread... can't wait to dig in..." How do you respond to that? "It's just prettier plates. Sorry." My favorite new platter looks like a fish. When the kids see it, they start singing that "Fish Heads" song from an old British comedy (I think). They also eat what's on the platter more willingly. Seems like magic, but it's just the Power of Perception.
2. I checked out a Chez Panisse cookbook. Kids really can tell the difference between high quality and low quality foods. Sophisticated taste buds are not reserved for the over-18 crowd. To highlight their gourmand abilities, we have apple taste testing contests, vanilla taste testing contests (who knew good vanilla could be so expensive?), and cheese taste testing (plug your nose!). We are having fun.
3. I stopped working during the witching hours (about 5 to 8 pm), thus allowing me and by default others to relax more during dinner.
My only complaint is that dinnertime isn't long enough. Aee fell asleep at the table tonight and last night.