Living intentionally can be as simple as adding a little beauty to the dinner table. In this post I share several simple ways I’ve started to add beauty to our dinner table.
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An Uninspiring Moment in the Day
Something as common as eating food can become a mundane and uninspiring moment in the day. From kids crying because they are hungry and tired, to rushed dinners because of activities and schedules, meal time can become a place of stress. I’ve definitely been there often!
We might not be in a season of rushing to evening activities with our children but our dinner can still be a stressful event in the day. My attitude can become “just feed these hungry tired kids so we can get them to bed and everyone will be happy… especially mom and dad.”
Inspired to Change
Recently though, I’ve been inspired to try and create dinner as a special family event and not a mundane or stressful activity we rush through. We are all inspired to make changes by one thing or another. There have been several things that have brought about a change in my attitude towards meal time this past year.
A Simple German Dinner
I had a conversation with an au pair while at swimming lessons for my daughter earlier this year. She was from Germany and I was asking her what she liked about the U.S. and missed about home. During our conversation, she said she missed the food and the way they valued their meal times. In Germany, meal time was a special event for the family, with home cooked meals lingered over, not rushed. Special time was carved out in the day to make meals and enjoy them with family, especially dinner. Wow, what she missed most about her home was something I was struggling to enjoy at all with my family!
I grew up in a home where dinner was a family event and meals weren’t rushed. Hearing her say that made me want to make our family meals, especially dinner, more intentional as I had lost the vision for it amidst the pressures of motherhood.
The Art of Homemaking
A book was the other inspirational motivation that helped me start making changes. “The Hidden Art Of Homemaking” by Edith Shaeffer talks about the simple ways to bring art and beauty to the home. Reading that book gave me fresh inspiration to take our dated seventies farmhouse and do what I could with it, starting with the dining room table.
Simple Ways to Bring Beauty to the Dinner Table
Some of the changes I implemented were simple easy things and a few took more intentionality on both Ben and my part. Here are some simple things I did to add beauty to the dinner table.
Flowers Bring Beauty to the Dinner Table
Adding fresh flowers is such a simple and easy touch. Especially in the summer when flowers can be found outside in abundance. In the past, I would often push aside my desire for a pretty table because it wasn’t “necessary” or “most important.” But taking those few moments to grab the scissors and go to the garden for fresh flowers has done so much for my heart. Taking those few precious moments and investing in beauty has brought me so much more joy than having the dinner on the table a few moments sooner. I’ve found that bringing a bit of God’s creation onto the dinner table allows me to worship my Lord in a different and unique way.
Lighting A Candle Brings Beauty to the Dinner Table
Lighting a candle can have an interesting effect on the mood at the table. The flickering light catches children and even adults attention. My mom often had a candle lit during our dinner time. Sometimes we would light several candles and turn out the other lights. Watching the flames dance about or the wax drip down the sides of the candle is something I remember very vividly. I see my children staring at the flame in a way that takes me back to my childhood. And the excitement and anticipation of being able to blow out the candle after the meal also helps encourage eating. Candles can set a peaceful mood and having that at the dinner table is always welcome, especially with little ones.
Using Cloth Napkins Brings Beauty to the Dinner Table
I recently invested in some cloth napkins as part of an effort to move away from disposable products. Using cloth napkins adds just a touch of fancy to the table. My dishes aren’t anything special but putting a cloth napkin beside them makes the table feel just a bit nicer. As long as our napkins aren’t especially messy from the meal, I just reuse them for the next. Then I’m not adding to my laundry load unnecessarily.
Setting the Table Completely Brings Beauty to the Dinner Table
It’s easy to just throw a plate and fork on the table for dinner but setting the table completely; fork, spoon, knife, glass, napkin, etc. doesn’t require much more effort. Making sure the table is set with all we need for the meal – butter, salad dressing, ketchup, salt and pepper and so on, helps keep down the interruptions during the meal, like jumping up to get whatever someone needs. Not to say it eliminates this entirely, but it does help! Maybe there are a few more dishes to be washed or put in the dishwasher but I’d rather that than jumping up from the table 10 or more times during dinner.
Using Pretty Serving Dishes Brings Beauty to the Dinner Table
My pretty serving dishes mostly stay in the cabinets. What a shame! I’ve decided to make an effort to pull them out and actually use them. The other night, my five-year-old daughter commented on the beautiful plate I put our non-fancy cornbread on. She noticed the effort and saw the beauty. If that’s not motivation to use my pretty serving dishes more, then what is?
Having A Family Tradition Brings Beauty to the Dinner Table
Having a special family dinner tradition is another way to bring beauty to the table. Our tradition is family devotions, followed by scripture memory and prayer. Ben and I intentionally sat down and talked about this. We wanted to incorporate our Christian values into our lives in a way that would impact our children. Having family devotions during dinner seemed like an easy way to do this all together.
We keep it super short 10 minutes max. We even set the timer! To keep the little one happy, we offer “table toys” after she is finished eating. She must be quiet but can have something fun to hold in her little hands while we read. The book we are reading right now is The Ologoy by Marty Machowski. After this we work on scripture memory. We are slowly working our way through Romans 8. So far we have the first 6 verses memorized, including our five-year-old and our two-year-old knows a lot of it as well. We just add a new verse when we know the previous one well. Last, we each thank God for something and pray for something. We like to write down our thanks and prayers so we can see how God is working over time with our simple petitions. And that’s it!
Lasting Change Takes Time
We didn’t make all these changes at once, we just kind of added them in a little at a time. Slowly dinner time is becoming a special time, a time I know my children with be thankful for when they grow up. We don’t do these things perfectly, but as imperfectly as we do them, they still have made an impact on our lives in these last few months. In this crazy busy world in which we live, how nice to be able to gather around the table and enjoy food and family!
Shop Beauty for the Dinner Table
Beeswax Candle Kit – these also make great gifts during the holidays
The Ologoy by Marty Machowski – this book is probably better for older kids (7 and up)
The Big Picture Story Bible by David R. Helm – a great book for younger kids
The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer – an inspirational book about homemaking for the glory of God. I need to re-read this book often.
Table Toys – this is the Etsy shop I got the “table” toys from. My cousin owns this shop and makes some really beautiful toys!