Host a Phone Party Along With Your Holiday Meal

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photo by Jenifer Joy Madden

In the hubbub of car trips and food preps, it’s easy to forget that a holiday meal is not just about eating, but also a one-time-only opportunity to learn family history and create memories for future get-togethers.

To help everyone at the table share and soak up stories and lore, consider setting out a gadget basket. Before sitting down, adults and kids place their mobile devices on silent and pop them into the basket or other handy container for safe temporary keeping.

Shared, attentive mealtimes also benefit families all other days of the year. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who regularly sit down for meals with loved ones (especially without a TV on and the presence of other distractions) develop better eating habits, so are more likely to maintain a healthy weight and avoid eating disorders altogether. They also tend to get better grades and are more likely to stay away from alcohol and other illegal substances, says the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

By engineering the household schedule so family members eat together on a several-times-weekly (if not daily) basis, parents or other caregivers can have eyes and ears on their kids and pick up on clues that a child may be having a problem so they can address it before it becomes a bigger deal.

So, even after the holidays are gone, invite the gadget basket—and shared mealtimes—to stick around.

For more practical ways to live in health and harmony with your technology, read How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital World Through the Power of Self-Design.