Make space for a dining area in your home and enjoy great nights in with friends and family
The importance of having a dining table is often overlooked and our hectic lifestyle combined with the kids' packed schedule can mean that sitting down for a meal is seen as a chore. With everybody running on separate agendas it can often be much easier to grab something quick and eat it in front of the TV than sit down for a proper meal. However, making time for a sit down meal is important for family bonding, as it is a chance to catch up on the days' news, teach manners and give your children the attention they deserve.
Eating meals round the dining table is one of the few chances a family gets to spend quality time with each other, without any other distractions. Studies have shown that children who eat at the table with their families have better table manners than those who don't, as parents are able to watch what their children are doing and remind them about how to behave. Talking together as a family is very important because it shows children that you are interested in them, ensuring you know what is happening in their lives and how they are feeling. Television stops the conversation flow as it holds everyone's attention, so try to make eating in front of the TV a treat by spending most mealtimes at the table, together.
Dining tables are also perfect for hosting dinner parties, which are a great way to make new friends as well as catch up with old ones. Dinner parties can be any size you like, but one of the best ways to do it is to keep it intimate with 6-8 guests. The relaxed and informal setting (loosened with a little wine!) makes it easier to actually talk to people, which is helped by not having to shout in someone's ear like in a bar or nightclub.
Some people are daunted by the prospect of having to cook for a lot of people, but there are many ways to make the evening go smoothly. Preparation is the key and the pressure is eased considerably if you do most of the work beforehand. If you prepare cold starters and desserts then these can be made in advance and kept in the fridge, leaving you free to be the host, as you only have to concentrate on one course. Consider you table arrangement to, as an impressive setup will grab your guests' attention straightaway.
So next time you get in from work or want to catch up with old friends, consider having a good meal round the table. Making room for a dining area may just be the best decision you ever made!