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12 Fun Saturday Night Family Dinner Ideas (Surprise Your Kids!)

Looking for a way to bring more fun to your home life? Surprise your kids with these fun Saturday night family dinner ideas.

About two years ago, our small family of three started something really fun: Saturday Family Date Nights.

family dinner with string lights all around, text overlay "Saturday night fun family dinner ideas"

And I’m about to dish on our most fun Saturday night family dinner ideas we’ve enjoyed together over the last few years.

Hint: stick around until the end, where I’ll share how we set up our own family date night (in case you want to create one of your own)!

Fun Saturday Night Family Dinner Ideas

The most fun family dinner ideas start with an engaging and “cool” recipe idea, and end with how dinner is eaten.

That’s why I’m including ideas for both.

First, find a mixture of fun dinner recipe ideas for the weekend. Then in the next section, I’ll share fun ways to eat dinner with everyone you can use this Saturday Night.

1. Graze from Kid-Friendly Charcuterie boards

Do you know what we love about charcuterie boards for family dinners?

It’s a less formal, no-pressure way for picky eaters to try new things.

In our household, at least, it seems to take the pressure off of everyone. We can just chill, relax, and munch our way through whatever season bounty we can find.

Here are some ideas:

Hint: make a rule that when you touch a food, you have to take it – even if that’s just to their little plate.

2. Do a Two-Course Fondue Dinner

Letting kids dip their dinner into a fondue? Well, that’s totally fun.

Letting them also dip things into a chocolate dessert fondue? Oh yeah – they’ll be begging for more Saturday night dinners like this.

Here are both main-course and dessert-course fondue recipes:

Hint: you don’t need a fondue pot to make these. You can use a crockpot, or even do it on your stovetop with a pan.

3. Create a Huge Nacho Taco Salad Centerpiece

What if, when your kids and partner walked into the dining room or den, they were met with a giant, loaded-nacho table centerpiece?

That’s what you can create with Rachel Ray’s giant taco salad recipe.

You can assemble it on a huge cutting board, or if you don’t want to buy one, use sheet pans (or sheets of aluminum foil, meshed together).

Psst: this is such a cool idea that I’m going to use it at next Saturday’s family date night.

4. Let them Cook Dinner-on-a-Stick

I will never forget the look of excitement on our 4-year-old’s face when we told him he could cook his own dinner (supervised, of course) on a stick. Over fire.

Totally changed the vibe of our family date night!

Dinner options your kids can cook on sticks:

5. Do Make-Your-Own-Pizzas

Make several batches of pizza dough, and portion them off into smaller pizzas.

Flatten the dough in as many pans as you have, and spread pizza sauce and cheese on top.

Then, let each person in the family take turns choosing what goes on their “personal pan pizza”.

Toppings to prep ahead of time:

  • Pepperoni
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Pineapples and ham chunks
  • Oregano, parmesan cheese, etc.

You could also set up a family pizza-making station at your breakfast bar – it just depends on how many pans you’ve got and the age of your kids.  

6. Cook Fish You Caught Together

Here’s a really fun idea: take your kids fishing Saturday afternoon, then cook up the fish that you catch.

We did this once at a beach house we rented with our brother and sisters-in-laws. My husband and his brother actually caught something, and cooked it up!

While it didn’t taste exactly like they’d hoped…the experience was unforgettable.

7. Set up a Popcorn Bar for Dessert

I just love how customizable this popcorn bar is – think of all the fun your kids will have creating their own concoctions.

Especially great for when you’ve planned a family movie for after dinner.

8. Set Up an Ice-Cream Sundae Board

Ice-cream Sunday board?!?!

Seriously – are you trying to get the award for best Mom this year?

Your family is going to love making their own sundaes together.

Fun Dinner Ideas for Family Night

Now, let’s talk about more ways to make dinner on family night extra special (and fun).

1. Eat by Tiki Torch, After Dark

One of the things my husband and I enjoyed the most about our trip to Mexico was eating dinner outside by Tiki torch at night.

What a fun experience.

That’s why I’d love to see you recreate this by eating dinner outside, under tiki torch lighting with your family.

Heck, we’d be doing this a lot more, but we currently live in the desert…when we move again to someplace with grass, we’ll definitely do this on a Saturday family night.  

2. String Up Lights in Your Dining Room

Who says Christmas lights are just for the end of the year? Make your family night dinner extra special by temporarily hanging lights around your kitchen table, dining room table, or den table.

3. Light Things Up with a Disco Ball

You can buy a disco ball, turn off the lights, and use the Disco ball (they’re pretty cheap) to light up dinner tonight.

Wow will that be a conversation starter for the family!

Speaking of conversation starters…

4. Print Out and Use Family Conversation Starters

I’ve collected a bunch of free family conversation starter PDFs so that you can print them out and get to know what’s on your little one’s hearts (and in their heads) over dinner this Saturday night.

And, some of them are down right fun!

Next up, how we plan our family date nights on Saturdays.

How We Set Up Our Family Date Nights

I’d like to share a bit about why we have a Saturday evening family date night, and then how we do it.

About 2.5 years ago, we realized that a lot of our family time together felt logistical.

You know, like cooking dinner, driving back and forth to preschool, going to doctor appointments, getting dressed for bedtime, stuff like that.

We felt like we weren’t getting some good quality, FUN time together as a family.

SO, we switched things up and declared that Saturday evenings were going to be our family date nights.

And we haven’t missed one since (though sometimes, they’re different, like when we travel).

Here’s what we do:

  • Paul cooks the dinner and picks out a movie for us
  • I pick out a family activity
  • We start at 4:00 p.m., meaning laptops are shutdown, phones are off, house work is done, and we’re together
  • We do the activity (you can get ideas of what we’ve done in my 100 family fun night ideas article)
  • At 5:00, we eat dinner in front of the movie Paul picked out
  • 7:00 starts our bedtime routine with the little guy

Simple, yet really, really important to our family. We have made so many fun memories already! Now it’s your turn. I hope I’ve inspired you to infuse your Saturday night dinners with some family fun. What fun Saturday night family dinner ideas have you already tried, and which are you going to try from this list?

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 10 years, her money work helping people with how to save money and how to manage money has been featured in Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here.