Question #4 7/9/2006 How do you serve meals?

How do you serve meals? Our table seats 16 – we have 13 total in our cottage ranging in age from 1 to 12. We have tried putting an older child next to a younger child, that did not seem to work too well. We have tried dividing the dish into smaller dishes but that too did not seem to work well. Our table is square. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. –  S. S.

We live in a co-ed cottage that has children from age 4 to 15 and have found that family dining does not work for us.  Passing food is just not practical for us, we have too many young children in our cottage.

What we do is: Eat Buffet Style.

  • We prepare plates for all the children in kindergarten or younger before calling everyone to the table.
  • Everyone comes to the table and sits quietly (sometimes) in their chair. After everyone is seated and quite we will say “Grace”
  • We then pass out the plates to the younger children.
  • Once the younger children have their food, either the older boys or older girls will next prepare their plates; this limits the number of children that could potentially be messing around near the food and cause a mishap.  (We usually alternate each meal with boys going first and then girls, however I will sometimes let one or the other go first two or three times in a row just to prevent too much of a routine.)
  • My wife and I usually eat last so that we can help the children that might need assistance preparing their plates.
  • Condiments, seasonings, and napkins are passed around the table in a normal way so that children (and us adults) can practice using manners and passing items.

I hope this helps and that others will add their own solutions to your situation. 

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