Group of friends at a restaurant with all people on the table occupied with cellphones

Trade Phones for Food

My business is called About the Table, because I truly believe that the table has the power to unify us. It’s a place where we can relax, connect and nourish our bodies. It offers an opportunity to leave our worries behind and focus on enjoying a homemade meal, sweet treat or cup of tea. It’s where we break bread and ask our loved ones, how was your day?

Unfortunately, in our modern lives, texts became more important than talks and Facebook became more popular than face time (and I don’t mean the app). There doesn’t seem to be much etiquette around the table when cell phones are invited to the party. The phone pings or rings and our attention is instantly diverted.

Now, I’m not preaching here. It happens to me, too. Phones just have that affect on us. That’s why I devised a new rule in my house: Trade Phones for Food. During meals, the phones are put to the side and replaced with something irresistible, like a warm bowl of beef stew, a pile of crisp chicken cutlets or a fresh-baked loaf of zucchini bread.

It may not be so simple to tell your family to turn off the electronics because dinner is ready. You might experience a bit of resistant. So I came up with some fun ideas and games to help you along:

Trade Phones for Food (and Conversation)

The Basket Bribe: Leave a basket by the kitchen table and stock it with your family’s favorite treats: small bars of dark chocolate, individually-wrapped truffles, packets of peanut butter, or fresh fruit from the farmer’s market. Then, have them drop their phones in the basket in exchange for a treat. Once the meal is over, they can reclaim their electronics.

Social Media Game: If your family has trouble disconnecting with social media, then bring it to the table—sans the phone or laptop. The trick is to make a game out of it, so it’s actually more fun than their favorite app. Can your family tell you about their day in 140 words or less? Who can come up with the best hashtag to describe dinner? How would you style your plate for Instagram?

Trending Conversations: We all know how important trends are and how much we love to discuss them. So have each person jot down a few topics or questions on individual index cards. The topics can be something that’s trending on social media, in the news or in their personal lives. Mix up the cards and have each person draw one. Next thing you know, you’ll be engaged in meaningful conversations about issues that are specifically important to you and your family. You never know what you’ll learn or discover.

Your Turn: These are just a few ideas to get you started. If you try one or have your own creative way to trade phones for food, let me know in the comments below.

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