Oreos are my family's favorite cookie. My parents used to pull them out after Sunday dinner for us kids to dig into. My Dad's mom used to keep them in a cookie jar for little hands to grab. My mom's mother used to stock them in the cupboard when my parents were dating to encourage the relationship. My aunts, uncles and cousins all rave about this little cookie, sharing Oreo-related recipes on social media. We may not agree on everything, but we all love Oreos.
Here are 5 ways dessert can bring your family together.
1. Start a dessert tradition
Whether it's a favorite cookie or a special recipe for birthday cake, find a dessert your whole family can get behind and make it a tradition. Eating special dishes helps build a family culture. The foods become linked with memories. When I think of family vacations, I think about the licorice my parents always brought to eat in the car. If you save the dessert for special occasions, it can add to the enjoyment. Each year, my kids look forward to Aunt Jenny's special Thanksgiving Jell-O. The anticipation makes it taste all the better.
2. Try new things together
Encourage family members to find new recipes and help prepare them. The time in the kitchen together builds family bonds. You may find a new family favorite, but even the flops create memories. Who can forget the time I accidentally added vinegar to my brownies? No one in my family.
3. Dedicate desserts
For me, carrot cake is inextricably linked to my Grandma. It was her favorite. She always stuck a piece in her purse for later when she took us out for family dinners. Every year around her birthday, I have a piece in honor of Grandma. Sometimes, making a dessert especially for one person can help us recognize the great things that person brings to our family. I have a daughter that loves lime. Once in a while we have lime pie just for her. It's good for kids to have the experience of making something they may not choose because someone else would really love it. It helps them appreciate others and think unselfishly.
4. Bake for others
Who doesn't love to find a plate of cookies on their doorstep? Your family will grow closer working together to give something you love to others. You may also want to invite friends and other families over for dessert potluck. It's a good chance to get to know other people and learn a little about their family culture.
5. Share dessert and stories
While enjoying your dessert together, by all means talk with your mouth full. Share with your kids memories about the first time you had that dessert. Did you and your spouse discover it on your honeymoon? Share stories about the person you got the recipe from. Did your Grandma make it every Christmas? Explain what ingredients make it taste so good. Is coconut a weakness of yours? Share facts about the country it came from. Or, just tell your family how much spending time with them makes every morsel more delectable.
Food goes beyond satisfying our physical needs - especially dessert. Our brains are wired in such a way that taste and smell can bring up powerful memories. Dessert can be one of the most enjoyable ways of strengthening your family bonds.