Funny how much emphasis is now put on having dinner together as a family, it is a crucial part of our day and something we insist on doing reagrdless of how hectic life gets. My husband and I take turns cooking and we try to include the kids in preparation whenever we can. Our dining routine is extremely simple and includes a table set with MISMATCHED everything. Mismatched plates, cups, silverware, serving dishes, everything is mismatched. I am totally ok with that because it isn't about the dishes it is about the people. We even serve dishes out of pots sometimes, I know crazy... Everyone takes turns doing dishes and setting and clearing. Our kids are old enough now that they can do these two jobs themselves. I will help out if necessary but the majority of the tasks can be done by the kids.
As we sit around the table we chat about the day, plans of the next day, or just chat about what is on our minds. It isn't perfect, but it works and we take the time to listen and share with each other each night around the dinner table.