Looking for a fun way to spend dinner with your kids?  Trying to make the most of the valuable time we have in quarantine? This is a great way to ease the tension of our new “at home” schedule and get everyone laughing too!

I love time at home but feeling like I can’t go out is making me have a little cabin fever!  Our family loves to create unique experiences together and I want to share a favorite of mine.  This dinner idea doesn’t have to cost a lot, as a matter of fact, you can use what you have in the house.  It is easy to mix and match foods for this meal!  Warning: It might get messy but it will be so worth it!


The mystery dinner is a fabulous way to give your kids something different to do. It’s an adventure and having fun with it is the main goal. Each person will receive three items for each of the three courses that will be served. They will choose the items blindly so what they get when will be a surprise! They select three numbers for each course, those numbers will coordinate to a secret item on the menu. Every one will have chosen different numbers so each persons course will look completely different. You will need to plan nine individual items including each piece of cutlery and napkin as separate items.   For example you could get your dessert, a knife and a salad for your first course, depending on what numbers you choose. It is important to tell your guests that each course will be completely removed before you are able to serve the next. They cannot hold on to any items for the next course (especially their cutlery or napkin) Each item will be served a la carte so small paper plates, paper bowels, and disposable cutlery are an easy way to go if you don’t want to deal with clean up afterwards.

Bonus Bib Tip: The possibility of someone getting the opportunity to eat something with their fingers because they have no fork, knife or spoon is a strong likelihood. If you want to take it to the next level you can add the Bib Tip. Anytime someone is being served a course with no cutlery in it, announce to the table that someone will be eating with their fingers this course. Come place a bib (or towel) on this person before serving that course.


  • Fork

  • Knife

  • Spoon

  • Napkin

  • Appetizer

  • Main Dish Item (Suggested: Pasta dish such as spaghetti or alfredo)

  • Side Item

  • Side Item or Salad

  • Dessert (No finger desserts – something you eat with a fork or spoon)


Once you have selected your nine menu items it is important to set your kitchen up for success. Food should be prepared and ready to go before you seat everyone at the table. This will help the meal flow smoothly when you are switching out courses. I recommend nine stations around the kitchen. Each station has one of the nine items ready to go. For side items and desserts, plating them in advance in individual portions will help speed things along!

Side Note: You will need to have nine slips of paper numbered 1-9 set aside in a bowl so you can draw them out just before you begin serving the meals. It is fun if you can play along as well. Fill in your menu at the same time your family does. When you go to the kitchen to plate up their courses, draw a number from the bowl and place by each of the nine items. These numbers will coordinate with those items for the rest of the night. You can use the template below to create a sheet to help you coordinate food items and numbers.



Each person will be given a menu sheet with 3 courses and listed under each course will be three blanks. (Download Free Menu Sheet Below)

Instructions: Ask each individual to put a different number on each blank using the numbers 1-9. Each blank should contain a different number, you are not allowed to repeat numbers at all. Once each person has completed their menu you can collect them and take them into the kitchen with you.



Take everyone’s menu and head to the kitchen to begin preparing to serve course 1! Draw your numbers from the bowl and fill in the blanks next to the items listed on your menu code (Add download here). This will give you a template to work from, the menu code will determine what each person will receive for each course. Serve each person the 3 items they chose for their 1st course. When everyone finished with their food, collect all items from course 1 (including cutlery and napkins if that was their selection) and move on to serving course 2. Repeat again to serve course 3.

When we did this I set the tone for the meal before we started by laying down some family guidelines. Not everyone loves the idea of touching food with their fingers so I wanted to prepare them for what they might have the opportunity to do. It was a great night and in the end we all enjoyed it so much!

Ou Family Guidelines:

  1. Wash your hands before we start
  2. The goal is to have fun and laugh a lot
  3. No complaining
  4. Everyone keeps a good attitude
Please share your pics of your mystery dinner on instagram and tag us @loving.hospitality!

My Amazon Picks for your Mystery Dinner: