5 WAYS TO IMPRESS YOUR FAMILY AT MEAL TIME

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Over the past couple of weeks, I've had the opportunity to attend a slew of delicious and informative, food, nutrition, and entertaining-related events. As such, the next few posts here on Glamamom will delve into these topics so that I can pass along the facts, ideas and recipes that I've learned, as well as my own tricks of the trade.

Thanks to "lwbzkk" target="_blank">Oreo for sponsoring today's post.

I may not be a domestic diva slaving over a hot stove and making meals from scratch each day but when we do sit down as a family or host a dinner party, there are a few simple things I do to set the mood and make the experience more intimate and glamorous.

Here are my 5 quick and easy tips for making the most out of meal time and leaving your dinner guests impressed:

1. Unplug: First and foremost, I put my beloved phone away. While it's super tough to let go of, especially when Sebastian does something funny that I want to photograph or Tweet, I know he's watching every single move we make and taking it all in. I can't tell you how many times I've heard and read that healthy eating habits start young, well the same goes for table manners, and courtesy in general. I would never pull out my phone during a dinner party so I'm not sure why my own family would be an exception. But of course we slip and then remind ourselves that this is precious family time. The same goes with the television. Sometimes when I'm cooking, I just have it on for background noise and before I know it, we're watching "Dancing with the Stars" from the table. There is a noticeable difference in involvement between Leo and I when we're just chit-chatting, and it's those moments that I savor.

2. Create a Dinner Party Atmosphere: One of the best ways I psych myself up for what can be a mundane preparation process is to try and make each meal as special as if we were having guests over. Cheap flowers from the bodega, lemon slices in our water, good china or serving utensils, the little details- whatever I have time for- make an inviting table that has Leo raising an eyebrow. Instead of television, I'll put on some music. I now have two men to romance and when I think of it in those terms it's easy to create a memorable and inspired setting.

3. Plan in Advance and Try New Foods: This is hardly a secret but the easiest and most enjoyable meals are the ones I'm not stressing to come up with last minute with insufficient ingredients. There are so many amazing online resources to make food calendars and shopping lists and some of my favorite blogs are those that inspire me to create new things like: The Simply Wholesome Kitchen and In Jennie's Kitchen. It's daunting to try new things with a toddler since I never know what he'll eat but I like exposing him to a lot of different foods and I know Leo appreciates when we have something different. If it's been a busy day and we're not cooking, even sticking to the routine but ordering delivery from a new place or stopping off somewhere new on the way home for take out leaves an impression.

4. Everything in moderation: Feeding children, particularly toddlers, is a daunting task. I know a lot of friends getting caught up on what their kids are not eating and have seen first hand how the expectations turn meal time in battle zone. There's also a whole new set of consciousness surrounding eating locally and organic, which I wholeheartedly support but it definitely adds another layer of complexity to meal times. Not only am I trying to get something on the table but trying to figure out ways to substitute ingredients and make sure Sebastian's eating a balanced diet can be overwhelming. Remembering the the phrase, "everything in moderation" helps. Some nights we're going to have pizza or tacos from the box. And some nights Sebastian won't eat anything at all because he's a stubborn mule and rules the house. But the rest of the time I try to make good decisions so I can honestly say I don't stress much about what he is or isn't eating. Besides, there's nothing more impressive than finishing off a meal with a fabulous dessert. It's literally the cherry on top and can transform an ordinary meal into memorable one.

5. Adults Only Dinner: Family meals around the table are what we aspire to each day but it sure feels good to have Sebastian fed and in bed so that Leo and I can enjoy dinner together alone. If I've had a long day or I know Leo has, it's the most relaxing way for us to connect and unwind. Sure it takes a bit of hustle to get Sebastian settled, then regroup for round 2 but I know how appreciative and impressed Leo is and I even impress myself when I can pull off an impromptu, home date night.

What tricks do you use to impress your family at meal time?

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