The Happiness of a New Family Tradition: Restaurant Night

Gretchen Rubin
June 14, 2010

One of my resolutions is "Cultivate rituals and traditions." We recently started a delightful new one (I've decided that "new tradition" is no oxymoron in our house.)

It's called "Restaurant Night." The Big Girl suggested it a few weeks ago, and we've done it twice, and it was a huge hit.

Our Restaurant Night in Saturday; in New York City, at least among the people I know, adults make nighttime plans during the week, and spend the weekend evenings with their family. This seemed odd to me at first; in Kansas City, adults mostly go out on Fridays and Saturdays.

So from now on, every Saturday night, we figure out what kind of "restaurant" we will be. For our first restaurant - Italian - the Big Man and the girls made pizza. We set the table properly (somewhat unusual for us). I got out a few votive candles -- candles go a long way to establishing a "restaurant" atmosphere -- and some red and white checked tin trays that have an Italian feel. The Big Girl made a menu and decorated a blackboard sign with the restaurant name, "La Nina." The Little Girl and I stayed in character as customers for the whole evening, while the Big Man acted as customer/chef and the Big Girl was waitress/customer. We even changed our clothes to dress up (the Little Girl chose to wear a princess costume).

The second Restaurant Night had a Mexican theme: the restaurant was "Hola," serving salmon tacos.

There were several aspects of Restaurant Night that make it a success.

First, it's a fun and easy tradition, and traditions enrich family life tremendously.

Second, the game makes it easier to enforce good manners and helpful table courtesy. The Big Girl as Waitress was happy to jump up and fill people's water glasses.

Read the rest of this article and so much more at Gretchen's website, The Happiness Project.


From the Parents

  • Parent # 1

    What a great idea! It would also be fun to come up with a prix fixe menu and let everyone pick which option they would like. I think I'm going to try this at my house. What a great new "date night" idea for the kids! Thank you!

    over a year ago


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