A Night of Snacks, Family Games and A Lifetime of Memories

By Michael Harris-Arzon, The Simplistic Professional

Night illumination in Park Riviera , Sochi city

It’s quite difficult, as a professional, as a friend, as the head of the household, as a parent (whom also happens to be the primary cook)…. to balance it all and not let one aspect overshadow that of another.     

I have always been extremely organized, to the point of being anal.  It used to encompass every aspect of my life, down to the exact placement of a picture or bud vase on a side table.  I’m not kidding.  Everything in our house or office had an assigned place, and not just that it was on a certain shelf, but the exact spot I wanted it to sit.

For years, as a form of entertainment, Danny would walk through the entire house and move something on each and every table or shelf.  Knowing full well, how frustrated it made me and that I would not be able to just let it sit there, out of place.  I would spend an hour going through the house putting each piece back in its exact place.

Mine and other’s time has also been extremely important to me.  I was raised to believe that you didn’t waste another persons time.  And if you told someone you be somewhere at a certain time, you not only made sure to be there at that set time, but arrived at least 5 minutes early.  This is a concept that Danny has never gotten or worried about.  He lives on Puerto Rican time, which is to say if you are due to be somewhere at 5 o’clock, then that is when you leave your house and arrive whenever you happen to get there.

Being fashionably late is taken to a whole new level with Danny.  After about 15 years of living like this I smarten up and learned to lie and tell him everything was an hour earlier than it truly was.  I also started making sure that he never saw the physical invitation, Save The Date or email reminder for events in our personal and professional lives.

I think I have mentioned this before, but once we knew we would finally be adopting and had the kids in our physical presence, Danny and I both agreed that certain things would be done on a regular basis.  It started out with Friday Night Dance Parties, and when the kids got a bit older, it changed to Family Game Night.  And so on and so on and so on.  As part of my anal need for organization, I have these reoccurring family events listed on my calendar, with alert reminders so that no matter how busy I may be or get, I won’t forget.


As you can see, every Wednesday night is Family Game Night in the Arzon household.  Some weeks it may be board games or cards.  Others, it is a night of video game challenges.  These, I like the best since there is no chance of one of the kids ( I shall not name names , they know who they are) trying to pull a fast one and cheat.  We try and be fair and take turns picking the type of game format and the actual game itself.

Mixed race couple playing solitaire

The only thing that is the same every week is the fact that I NEVER COOK!  It gives me a break and honestly, the kids like having a giant platter of food that they can eat with their hands.  I always try and make it with snacks that the kids choose.  The only rule is that it can’t be a bunch of sweets.  It usually has 6-10 different items on it and isn’t anything messy.  THE KIDS ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!

Sandwich tray

Here are some great ideas that are simple to throw together onto a platter.  Make it as easy on yourself as you can.  I actually recommend buying pre-made things, remember it is all about spending time with your family, taking a break from cooking and creating lifelong memories.

  1. Baby Carrots,
  2. Grape Tomatoes
  3. Celery Sticks
  4. Slices of Pepperoni
  5. Mini Smoked Sausages
  6. Vienna Sausages
  7. Sandwiches, cut into quarters
  8. Pickles
  9. Olives
  10. Cubes of Cheese
  11. String Cheese
  12. Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing for dipping
  13. Hummus
  14. Pita Chips
  15. Crackers
  16. Grapes
  17. Strawberries
  18. Cookies
  19. Pop Tarts, cut into quarters
  20. French Bread, Baguette Slices

If you do decide to follow our example and start doing Family Game Nights, be consistent and do everything you can to make sure it takes place.  We want to create positive memories and food experiences for the entire family, not negative ones.  The last thing you want is for years from now, to have your kids be resentful of you because you promised them something and never followed through.

I caution this because we have had a few of the friends of our kids talk about how they wished their father, mother or parents did a Family Game Night with them.  Just recently I had a friend of our son tell me how his father tells him all the time he is going to do this or that with him and then never shows up or even calls to cancel.  I felt so bad for him, as he is a great kid and just wants to spend time with his dad.  So I invited him to start doing game night with us and now go out of my way to include him in things our family does when his mom and stepdad are at work.  Luckily, he has a great stepdad that acts the way a good parent should.

While they may say they understand you missing Family Game Night, deep down they will be disappointed and after so many times of it happening become saddened which leads to resentfulness or even hatred.

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child


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