Years back, when my kids were cute and still living at home, I looked for fun, cheap stuff to do as a family. After all, you can't go to Disneyland every day! I wanted to pass on one of the more successful ideas I found and adopted. I know many of you have adult kids now, but maybe you have grandkids and you want to be the most liked grandparent--if so, this is for you too!
This idea involves a family meal--usually dinner. If you're a strict parent or grandparent when it comes to proper eating, stop here--you probably won't like it. Then again, rules are made to be broken, aren't they?!
So, here's the deal. Gather up all the weird things in your kitchen that can be used in place of dishes and utensils. For instance, the lid of a pot can make a reasonable dish. Tongs or wooden spoons will work as eating utensils. Work out in your mind what would constitute a place setting. For instance, a pot lid and a wooden spoon might work for one person. If you want to be really silly, throw in a sock to use as a napkin! Package each place setting up in a paper bag and tie the opening closed--or for a "party," you can have fun decorating the bag. (Or have the kids decorate the bags but don't tell them what they're for--that should keep them busy for a little while!)
Decide what you're going to cook for dinner--this will depend on your MTL (mess tolerance level). Spaghetti is fun. Actually, the harder the food is to eat with the utensils you've chosen, the more fun--but the more mess too. Just imagine a table full of toddlers and proceed accordingly.
Just before you serve dinner, have each family member pick a bag, contents unseen. Let them open the bag, and as they do, explain that they will need to eat their dinner using only what's in their bag. Then serve the food "family-" or "buffet-" style and let everyone help themselves. I swear that even the most somber person in the family will be laughing in no time!
You can add another element to this "game" by giving everyone 5 minutes before dinner to come up with a silly hat. We did this whole thing one year when my parents were staying with us, and my mom wore a bra on her head--I kid you not! (Actually, my mom, being a bit of an alcoholic, I'm pretty sure it wasn't the first time, but at least this time she was EXPECTED to act oddly!)
On another very memorable occasion, we played the "dinner game" on April Fools Day, and I decorated the table with real dirt down the center, fake flowers, clay flower pots, and those small plastic beach shovels--in fact, we had to eat with the beach shovels. Then I made "dirt cups" for dessert--a combination of chocolate pudding and Cool Whip topped with crushed Oreo cookies. I made those in individual clean, sealed ceramic flower pots and added gummy worms and a fake flower for effect. I'm sure none of us will ever forget that meal, nor will I forget the looks of horror and then doubt on my children's faces when I started to eat the "dirt" out of the flower pots! Priceless!
EDITOR'S NOTE: I have no idea who the guy is with the bra on his head, but I know you all like good photos to illustrate blog posts. It's amazing how many images you can find by searching for "bra on head," even with "safe search" on!