Barbarian Spaghetti


You may or may not have known that spaghetti has Adultitis-fighting superpowers. As long as you keep it off of plates, that is.

This is one of the more polarizing ideas I’ve shared in many of my speaking programs. The thought of eating a spaghetti dinner sans plates either causes people to roll their eyes in disgust or exuberantly start planning when to do it.

As you might expect, children, who are weary from always being reprimanded to be more “civilized” at the dinner table, love Barbarian Spaghetti immensely. But it is a great gift to give grown-ups, too. We spend way too much time worrying what other people think, and that can be pretty exhausting. It’s fun to give others the permission to have fun, be a little silly, and not take themselves so seriously.

We’ve done this a few times, including Ben’s first birthday party and at a previous Escape Adulthood Summit. I am pleased that many audience members embrace it, and send me photographic proof. Here’s another.

I can assure you that in each case, the only one disappointed with the outcome is Adultitis.

Your challenge is to host a Barbarian Spaghetti dinner. If not tonight, then sometime soon. And if you find yourself completely opposed to the idea, you might want to ask yourself why. It could be evidence of how important it is for you to try. By the way, if you think of another meal that is on par with spaghetti, go for it. (But let’s just say cold cut sandwiches don’t count. :)

And now, please open the third mystery envelope (the one marked January 29, 2015). Inside you will find something to help keep Adultitis from spoiling your dinner.

Of course, we’d love to see your photos of your Barbarian Spaghetti dinner, but it would also be interesting to hear your thoughts on the experience, too, and the response of others you invite to join you!

Share your Barbarian Spaghetti experience below!


  1. Monica Deal Monica Deal says:

    Hilarious! My first thought was, when will I have time to run out and get a plastic tablecloth, and then I opened my package ;-) My daughter has been begging for a “eat with a random serving utensil” dinner ever since the Escape Lab started. This will be perfect for her! Unfortunately, we are headed out of town tomorrow, so this will have to wait until we get back, but I’m looking forward to it!!!

  2. Michelle Grachek Michelle Grachek says:

    Cannot wait for this one. My husband is going to have a fit!! Hee hee hee! Oh and by the way, JK, I did try to scratch the bubble gum sticker to see if it was a scratch and sniff. I think it was!!!

  3. Wendy Whitney-Scherer Wendy Whitney-Scherer says:

    We opened our surprise as a little pick me up on a stay home day with my sick daughter. Then we read the email about reading first then opening, but we immediately knew what the surprise was for. Our table is decorated to celebrate everything! I thought the Twister spinner goes with the table cloth maybe we can add a little “twist” to the barbarian supper. Tonight’s menu: barbarian tuna tetrazzini and octopus dogs, fruits, veggies, then baths. The whole idea of eating off the plastic table cloth freaks me out – chemicals, but the idea of no dishes I LOVE. The whole idea of a mess will freak my husband out. The kids will LOVE IT!

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  4. Debbie Green Debbie Green says:

    Oh..I have wanted to do this for a looong time!!!! When I stay overnight at my parents house to care for my Dad a couple nights a week, I always make dinner. Hmmm His oxygen tubing shouldnt get in th way!

  5. Lynn Carter Lynn Carter says:

    Cristy, we’ve also had barbarian stir fry!

  6. Avatar William Thom says:

    We love Barbarian Spaghetti. We ALL do, really… We had friends over a couple months ago and served sans plates… had a great time.

    Kelly had the fortunate experience to participate in Barbarian Spaghetti at EAS2013 and brought it home to enjoy!

    • I think you guys shared pictures if I’m remembering correctly…that meal at the Summit was great fun. There is no better sound in the world than the sound of a big pile of spaghetti in those big catering pans being dumped on a table. Ssssslurp! Kim and I were actually a little nervous how people would respond to it, but it turned out to be very well-received!

  7. Lora Klitzke Lora Klitzke says:

    I’m totally thinking barbarian spaghetti for my birthday!

  8. Avatar Dave Timmerman says:

    I might have a super spaghetti supper on Super bowl Sunday. It will bring smiles back to a sad Packer house.

  9. Kimberly McCue Kimberly McCue says:

    This was a nice surprise. I always cringed a little internally at the idea of barbarian spaghetti – it just didn’t seem sanitary. Maybe all the spreading food around willy-nilly on the table made me think of it more likely to collect dust or fuzzies. Thanks so much for sending the tablecloth! I was happy to see that. I don’t think our table is fit to eat directly off of. ; p
    This was a super coincidence because we already had spaghetti planned for supper today! Unfortunately, this activity is a little extreme for the other members of my household. I opted to have a more *ahem* private party with the leftovers. Pictures to follow – I had a blast with it! XD It still made me feel a little squirmy inside, but it was totally fun. I had a big grin on my face while setting it all up and putting the spaghetti right on the table!

  10. Mary Eickemeyer Mary Eickemeyer says:

    Thanks for the Exquisite tablecloth. Love the fancy French writing! My husband is out of town this week for work and will be returning this weekend. Hopefully, one of our sons will be able to join us as well for this festive occasion of Barbarian Spaghetti. I can also see our beagle trying to take advantage of food on the table without the protection of a movable plate. One of the cats taught him how to jump up on the kitchen chairs and the dog is now a pro at getting on the table at lightening speed. Should be fun!

  11. Angela Dunlap Angela Dunlap says:

    For more than a year, a friend of mine and I have talked about getting together. This challenge has given me the opportunity to invite her and her two sons (almost 13 and 10) over, but we won’t be dining in this fine style until Feb. 22. I predict my friend will be completely hesitant about the whole thing (she’s a big germaphobe), but I think her boys will be OK with the concept. I’ll let you know how my predictions hold up after the 22nd. I am so looking forward to this …

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      What a fun excuse to get the date on the calendar! Enjoy!

    • Angela Dunlap Angela Dunlap says:

      My unsuspecting guests sat respectfully at the table eating their salad. Everything looked normal. They had silverware and napkins and cups with lemonade, and then it was time to serve the spaghetti. I cleared the middle of the table and asked my friend to take photos of her sons while I served the spaghetti. She had no idea what I had planned, but she’s a go-with-the-flow person. Here are the reactions of her sons and then all of them enjoying the spaghetti straight from the table.

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  12. Darla Dernovsek Darla Dernovsek says:

    Those photos and stories are hilarious! Somehow the thought of my ongoing recovery from this cold & flu do not go together with barbarian spaghetti, so I’m working up to it next week. But first, I must make my husband to promise to never tell my mother. She is a wonderful and loving woman who believes in laughter, picnics and the proper utensils wherever you are.

  13. Becky Reisinger Becky Reisinger says:

    I’m back! After a few very adultitis filled days, I really needed this! I will let this pictures speak for themselves!

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