(Originally published June 14, 2017. Updated for current information.)
Father’s Day is about family. It is about cooking together and doing things as a family. Father’s Day typically means the gathering together of a family.
Although many moms may not enjoy cooking on Mother’s Day, dads may not care if they have to cook on Father’s Day. Many dads enjoy cooking say a pancake breakfast for everyone. For them, it’s all about getting together. Whether you have a picnic or like to get out and do stuff (music, sporting events, etc.) there is usually fun for everyone.
Uniting Family and Service
Being together with family is key. Food can play a part in all of that. My memories of Father’s Days while growing up were of making brunch for Dad at late-morning, giving him some gifts (homemade or store bought depending on the year), and then going out for dinner at Dad’s favorite restaurant in the evening. We all had our fun flairs that we included in the situation (table setting, tasty food, etc.).
Father’s Day doesn’t always have to be about giving a physical gift: a tie, a trinket of some sort, etc. It doesn’t have to be about buying something. Father’s Day is also about giving time to Dad and showing appreciation for him. Giving your time and effort is important. Yes, you could take him out for dinner. Sometimes it’s nicer, though, if you put the time and effort into making a meal. That way you are focusing on him and putting your own creative touch to the meal. It’s a gift of service.
Combining Food and Family
The things that comprise the food experience (The Six Principles of Positive Food Experiences) are about family, friends, food, and the memories that accompany them. Father’s Day is another opportunity to bring those principles together. How you do that is unique to that particular family or that particular individual. Ultimately Father’s Day is another opportunity to pull everyone together and to utilize food to stimulate the overall experience.
Sometimes food experiences are about eating healthy as well as meal planning, etc. Just putting something on the table that is supposedly edible doesn’t make it a positive food experience. In our busy world, meals are often thrown together. The food experience has a lot to do with planning, prioritizing, and creating the experience. Father’s Day is along those same lines – with a twist as to who you are focused on. What you do and what you make on Father’s Day may be focused on what the dad likes and what he thinks would be fun.
Developing Family Experiences
The experiences depend on the family. No matter what your family composition, you can still have fun and honor dad.
Married with Children
For those married with children, the Father’s Day events depend largely on the ages and circumstances of the children. Young children may want to decorate some pancakes for dad. The family may choose to attend a theme park, build a fort in the back yard, or have a barbecue.
Single/Married with no Children
If you are single or are married with no children, you may choose to focus on your own father or a father figure in your life. You could celebrate it as a partner, but not necessarily a large family unit. From that perspective, it may be different depending on the demographics. What you do, on the other hand, may not be so different. Make a favorite meal. Do those things that person would enjoy. And have quality food to go along with it.
If you’re a single dad, you may be focused on doing something with your kids. Depending on the age of your children and your overall circumstances, you may likely need to help with the Father’s Day event. You can create that unique experience to help the kids show their appreciation to dad. You may need to take the initiative and say, “Hey, let’s all cook a meal together!” It may be on your shoulders to create that situation depending on the ages of the children and their ability to plan and prepare food.
The benefits are that you are creating memories for both yourself and your kids. Although the kids may have bought you something, actually making food together creates a good memory as well. The kids would then learn how to do those things and have those experiences that they can recreate for future Father’s Day events. It may even become a tradition.
With empty nesters, Father’s Day may be a mutual event. The dad may be honoring his grown children, while at the same time being honored by them. Depending on the circumstances, the grown children may come to him, or they may meet in a mutual location such as a favorite park or recreation area.
The mom or another family member may choose to spearhead the event. She can focus on creating a certain atmosphere and have different food that dad and others enjoy. That way, she is creating that environment and that experience in order to show her love to the dad. Perhaps the grown children can make some favorite dishes and bring them to the event.
Regardless of your situation, here are 6 ways to have a positive food experience this Father’s Day:
1. Take him out to his favorite activity (golfing, fishing, etc.), and then have a nice meal for him when he comes home. Some of the family can go with dad, while others stay back and help prepare a meal. In that way, they are showing appreciation for all their dad has done for them individually and for the family as a whole.
2. Involve the extended family in the day (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) for picnics or other gatherings around food. With more people, you may also have more food ideas, family recipes, and interesting stories that accompany them.
3. Make a meal together as a family. It’s often fun to make that meal all together as a family. It would be more of a memory if everyone gets involved than it would be just waiting around for someone to hand them some food.
4. Add a special environment to the picture. Include music, décor, or activities that complement the meal. Serve hors d’oeuvres based on a theme. The environment works with the other principles of positive food experiences to complete the picture and to draw you into the experience.
5. Put together a picnic lunch to take to Dad’s favorite activity (hiking, biking, fishing, etc.). You do not need to only make great meals at home. Take it on the road to a favorite recreation area or event.
6. Make a favorite dish in honor of Dad. If your dad has passed on, you can still remember the positive food experiences you had as you spent time with him. Making a dish that the two of you enjoyed together will help bring back those memories.
Creating Positive Memories with Food
The key is to create something that is memorable, with the unique twist that it should be something dad would enjoy. The overall experience angles toward the dad, but you are also encouraging friends and family to share in the experience. The focus is on the following:
· Cooking quality, great tasting, healthy foods
· Creating an atmosphere where you are surrounded with loved ones and enjoying the interaction with the food
Any special occasion can be that way. You can also make non-holiday days unique, of course. On special occasions, however you can use that holiday to kick it up a notch and put the elements all together. Special occasions are more of a prime time to pull together and practice the principles of positive food experiences.
We invite you to focus on dad this Father’s Day! Sometimes a few flapjacks are the perfect start to the day. Other times you can pack a nice lunch and take it with you on a hiking trip or golf tournament. Still at other times you can highlight the day with a family gathering or reunion – complete with food and fun! The choice is yours!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: How will you show appreciation this Father’s Day? How can you use this special day to create a positive food experience?