Mar 4th

Why not add a theme to your meal? Guest blogger Jen Burns from shares her story

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As I mention in my book, creating themed meals can help bring a lot of fun to a shared meal. As you will read below from guest blogger Jen Burns, it can create a beautiful memory.

Jen Burns from shared her story about an “Asian Themed Night” that her family shared recently.  I thought this story was so special, I had to share it with you.

Here’s Jen’s story:


This past month, my family had the privilege of celebrating two birthdays: our oldest turned 17 and our middle daughter turned 12. Their birthdays are just a few days apart, and they wanted to invite a few family members and friends over for a meal together. With the Chinese New Year being on Jan. 31, it was perfect for a theme that would be a little out of the ordinary for us.

Trying to keep it simple, yet, still make it a special night, we did the following few things to add some oriental flavor to our supper time. We did an “Asian Themed Night” (not necessarily for a particular country).

Using 6 simple categories, we were able to easily turn our supper into a special memory.

1. Music: We played some instrumental Chinese music while preparing the food, and then once the party was underway, my kids put on some of their favorite k-pop (Korean pop music). It was fun having the more calming music to start the evening, and then end with “Fantastic Baby!”

2. Food: We do not make much oriental food at our house because one of our children has a soy allergy. So for this special night we prepared his food separately, and made sure he didn’t eat around any of the soy sauce and oriental seasonings that were being used. With that taken care of, we were able to make a buffet of wontons, spring rolls, sushi, fried rice, and sweet and sour chicken. We also picked up some chow mein and some rice noodles at the Asian store we just happened to find on the afternoon of our party. Lucky find! Cooking the food took almost 2 hours, and was a natural way to spend time together. My favorite time of the night was watching my six kids and their aunts sitting around the table wrapping wontons, teasing back and forth and laughing.


3. Decorations: simple and frugal was in my mind as I thought through what to use for decor. We made a centerpiece with chopsticks from the Asian market, a happy birthday balloon, craft style “take out boxes” I found at a yard sale a few weeks ago, and fortune cookies that I picked up from our local Dollar Tree. My daughter also looked up how to write “Happy Birthday” in Chinese, writing it on a red dry erase board for the dining room wall. These simple additions stayed up for a few days after the party, as we continued to use the chopsticks with our following meals. (By the way, we are disasters with chopsticks. I think it would a great weight loss technique for our family. 🙂

4. Activity: One thing that was very simple and fun was to open our fortune cookies and talk about them. It turned out quite entertaining. Also, my husband, Mike, and our younger kids made dessert sushi with a Fruit roll up, rice crispy treat filling, and gummy worms. Rolled and cut into sushi type pieces, it was quite sweet, sticky, and yummy!


5. Prizes: with our family together to celebrate birthdays, the “prizes” were our children’s gifts. It was so fun to watch them open their cards and gifts from their friends and family. Celebrating another year with these two blessings was a great way to end the night.

6. Photos: We grabbed a few photos from the night. Here is our sushi and our centerpiece.

Hopefully this encourages you that themed nights can be simple and frugal. Just being a little more intentional with your meal can make it a fun and lasting memory for your family.


If you are interested in more intentional parenting encouragement, Jen blogs weekly at I read her blogs and they are quite good. She would love to continue to connect with you there. Jen is also an author of three children’s ebooks, her latest one being More Than Things: A Children’s Book about Gifts. She also has a new book for parents called Helping Your Kids Be Creative and Change Their World.

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