Restaurant Games

Going out to eat with children can be a real adventure. We have had some visits to restaurants that ended up looking like someone had shoved a lit firecracker into a box of saltine crackers. There are so many distractions at a restaurant that don’t exist at home. It’s important to have something for the kids to do while they are waiting for their food. Many restaurants now provide some type of child menu with games, puzzles, and fun activities. Why they don’t give you square crayons with them is beyond me. I have a two crayon rule with my kids, which is that the second time the crayon hits the floor, it becomes radioactive and must be left there for a special clean-up crew.

Mo Morrow had some great ideas for making restaurant visits more family friendly. Here are some games she likes to play with her children when they go out to eat:

Fold a paper menu in thirds and ask each player to draw the head, trunk, or feet of an animal or human body on one panel; don’t let him see the other two. A tip: Mark boundaries within which to draw the parts so they have a chance of aligning. Unfold for a one-of-a-kind monster.

Take turns crossing out key words on the paper menu’s list of options. Ask your fellow diners to fill in the blanks as you read the choices aloud. Anyone for a dinosaur burger topped with black sneakers?

I think this is similar to Mad Libs, but you make your own blanks. ~ gameguy

Make a square out of dots, say 8 by 8, or 64 dots altogether. Take turns connecting two dots with a small line. The goal is to complete a box by drawing the fourth side. When you do, write your initials inside. Whoever initials the most boxes wins.

I have also wondered that if we made the kids sit at the dinner table at home for fifteen minutes before the food was ready, would restaurants become a little easier to handle? What kind of experiences have you had at restaurants? What kinds of games or activities have worked well for you?