The Family Dinner
A great deal of research supports the benefits of a family eating dinner together. Statistics illustrate children, who eat dinner 5 nights or more a week with parents, have less trouble with substance abuse, perform better academically, and bond closer to the parent(s). For children who do not, truancy is twice as high and wieght is 40% higher. (see this Atlantic article)
But are there proven benefits for adults getting together for a dinner party? The importance of dinner has been chronicled throughout the ages, but the trend for dinner parties has been downward. Today, the average adult experiences a weekend party at someone's house only 3.6 times a year. But rare occasions are the most memorable and eating events that are unique are the ones most talked about (see Forbes Article). We offer an idea below for a dinner format that is trending up.
The Jeffersonian Dinner
Both at the White House and Monticello, Jefferson was famous for using the dinner party to expand his own and his guest's horizons. His dinner parties at the White House, nearly an every night occurance, served to bridge, as much as feasible, the political divides that were as deep and wide as those today. Topics were not soley political, but included the arts, science, education, new ideas and literature. The format is becoming more popular today.
Thomas Jefferson to Richard Peters, 30 June 1791
call on me, in your turn...: and if it should be about the hour of three, I shall rejoice the more. You will find a bad dinner, a good glass of wine, and a host thankful for your favor, and desirous of encouraging repetitions of it without number, form or ceremony.
Click here for a 5 Minute TED talk by Jeffrey Walker, long time Chairman of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, on the structure for setting up your own Jeffersonian Dinner