Portrait of a family saying grace before eating dinner

Family Activity – Make Place Mats (Eating as a Family)

I’m a big believer in eating dinner together as a family. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but 95% of the time we are all seated around the dinner table eating as a family. With two kids in high school and two in grade school this takes some effort, but we manage.

Sitting down together to share a meal gives us time to connect with each other, talk about our day, and just converse. As a parent, it gives me an opportunity to take a look at mood and behavior. This is often where I can tell if something seems “off”. If it does, I’ll try to get more details about what might be going on later in the evening.

One thing we did with the kids when they were younger was made place mats. This was a way to give the younger kids vested in our family tradition of eating together. And it got them excited about setting the table. They can also be great conversation starters.

You can make “disposable” place mats out of paper or you can cover them with contact paper to make something reusable. If you can laminate them, even better.

What you put on the placemats is up to you. Here are some ideas:

  • “Weave” them from strips of construction paper
  • Cover scrap paper with pictures cut from a magazine. You can make this work around a theme if you want to.
  • Cover scrap paper with labels from cans of food. These really turn out cute.
  • Just use some drawings the kids made that day. If you don’t cover them, they have to be aware that they might not get to keep the drawings if they get food on them, so make sure that is OK with them.

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