How to Turn Family Dinners Into a Restaurant Experience

You may love dining out nearly as much as your kids do. After working all day at the office, you might look forward to having someone serve you and skipping the meal preparation. Dining out every night of the week isn't affordable for most families, but you can still give your family a restaurant experience at home.

While you don't need to put on a costume and pretend that you're a waiter, you can make sure that every other element of the meal is exactly like what you might find in your favorite restaurant.

Set the Mood.  If you're like most parents, your home probably doesn't look very much like a restaurant kitchen. Transform your dining room into a space that any chef would love. Cover the table with a white tablecloths, place a few candles in the center of the table and set place settings around the table. Each person should have a plate, bowl, utensils and a drinking glass. You can even set out a small tray for serving butter and a basket of warm rolls, biscuits or your family's favorite bread.

Create Custom Decor. Give your dining room the look of a real restaurant with custom decor made just for your home. Custom menu covers let you create menus designed just for your family. You might name your restaurant Chez Smith after your own last name. Many party supply stores can print napkins that match those covers and include the name of your fictional restaurant across the front. Those little elements can go a long way towards making your kids believe that they are really in a restaurant.

Make the Food.   The biggest difference between eating at home and eating out is how the food looks. When you order in a restaurant, a server brings you a meal already dished out on a plate, but when you make food, your family usually serves themselves. Instead of having a family style meal, serve the food onto each plate in the kitchen before bringing out to your family. You can even opt for different courses like you'd find in a real restaurant. Treat your family to an appetizer, a salad, a main dish and then a dessert.

The more you make your home look and feel like a real restaurant, the more your family will want to stay home and enjoy family meals together.

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