How to Host a Family Night

If you don't have regularly scheduled family nights on your calendar, you should (because I'm bossy and I said so).

It doesn't take a ton of planning and it doesn't have to cost a lot of money!

Research has proven that having regular family meals together makes a huge difference in your children's lives. So, a whole night once or twice a month or every Friday, dedicated to the family can only help.

An excerpt from Time Magazine about family meals:
"Studies show that the more often families eat together, the less likely kids are to smoke, drink, do drugs, get depressed, develop eating disorders and consider suicide, and the more likely they are to do well in school, delay having sex, eat their vegetables, learn big words and know which fork to use. "If it were just about food, we would squirt it into their mouths with a tube," says Robin Fox, an anthropologist who teaches at Rutgers University in New Jersey, about the mysterious way that family dinner engraves our souls. "A meal is about civilizing children. It's about teaching them to be a member of their culture."

Here's how we spent Friday night in 4 Easy Steps:

1. We picked a theme: Dogs

2. We fixed Hot Dogs with Homemade Chili Dog Sauce and ate them outside.

Don't forget the paper towels!

3. We took our dog to a local dog park (and played on the playground next door a little).

4. We came home to watch Disney's Shaggy Dog.

Planning Time: about 10 minutes
Costs: Zero Dollars (I keep stuff for hot dogs in the freezer for last minute meals).

Homemade Hot Dog Chili Sauce
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 cups water
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
dash of paprika
crushed red pepper flakes to taste

Directions: Crumble ground beef into large pan on medium heat. Stir in water, and mash ground beef thoroughly with a potato masher. Stir in tomato sauce, ketchup, salt, pepper, sugar, and chili powder; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer, 30 minutes, until the sauce reaches a medium consistency. Get ready for a delicious mess!

Get your calendars out, okay? Don't make me get bossy.

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Kelly @ The Miller Mix said...

That chili dog sauce sounds delicious - and much healthier than the stuff in the can. Thanks for sharing!

Henley on the Horn said...

Thankfully we have family meals together every night! I agree that it is so important!!! We spend all of our weekend days together, with the exception of a birthday party here and there that doesn't include everyone. I am glad to know it may help lower their percentages for suicide, sex, etc! thanks, Kristen!

Heather said...

On Wednesdays we have Pizza Night. Not long after school the girls and I pile in the van and head up the Little Caesar's for Hot n Ready pizzas. We come home, watch a fun show, stuff our faces with pizza and salad, and just enjoy each other.

When hubs is off work early enough for dinner (he works a weird shift) we enjoy it together.

Janet (Latte Lady) said...

We love family nights!

I really like the "dog" theme. That's cute!

Sue Heimer said...

Kristen-another fantastic idea. My sons now ages 24,21,19 and 15 still remember "game nights" once a week...if you do not plan does NOT happen! The memories are worth the planning!

Thena said...

We have family meals together most everynight. But to me the best times are the weekend when we make home-made pizzas together, or bake cookies. Love spending time in the kitchen with my girls.

The Bertone's said...

We do this at least 2 times a month, but we always try to eat together as a family every night. We find it to be very important!

bridget {bake at 350} said...

That chili dog sauce sounds delicious!

We have family "game night" on Thursdays and "Pizza & a movie" night on Fridays. We all really look forward to them. Love your theme idea!

Rebecca said...

You convinced me. I'm gonna try a Family Night with my family this coming Friday.

Kim said...

Great suggestion Kristen.
We recently started a rather large puzzle on our dining room table. My intent is that we take at least one night a week to work on it together - without the TV or video games or outside influence. So far, so good.

Nick Black said...

Hi Kristen,

Enjoyed your post on family meals. Thought you may enjoy some recent research we conducted on the topic, exploring the feelings and emotions behind family meals. Here’s a link to the study:

From our research, we found that one of the best ways to encourage families to eat together is to get kids involved in the preparation process. It could be as simple as making pizza’s together on a Friday night, or mixing together a ‘random salad’.

If you’d like more information on the research, or tips on how to reconnect family, food and fun, you can check out the free resources available at

Kind regards,

Nick Black.

Nick Black
Vice President - Strategic Insight

Anonymous said...

You're a great mom. Something that I like to do for fun with my little guys (i have 3 boys) is to have Fryday (on TGIF, of course). We eat pretty healthy most of the time. So sometimes we'll just live it up on a Friday. I'll make fried chicken, french fries, onion rings, Fried green tomatoes (in the summer from the garden) Anyway...try it! My kids love it. And so does my hubs!

~Alison~ said...

I love the DOG theme! Great idea!

Thanks for sharing the chili dog sauce recipe! Can't wait to try it!

Rebecca said...

It took us an extra week, but we did have our inaugural family night last night. Our son suggested a space theme. I learned that I should have gotten the food for dinner together in advance, because I waited until the last minute and then was unable to get to the store. So our dinner wasn't particularly themed, but otherwise, the night went great and we all had fun and plan to do it again soon. We already have chosen ocean as our next theme (seafood for dinner!).