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Hope all is well.
I have been faced with a challenge. I have a dear friend who is visiting from out of state and I invited her to lunch. She is bringing along her 4-year old grandson who she said is “very fidgety”. OK, here is the challenge, how do you entertain a 4-year old through lunch?
I had to seriously give this some thought because I didn’t want him to just play a video game all alone, but instead be involved at the table so I can have the pleasure of his company. I love his age, they are cute and funny and simply a joy.
Over and over in my head I kept thinking “fun and games”. I didn’t want to do a craft and keep in mind, it has been 27 years since I had a little one.
Originally, I planned lunch outside, but here in the northeast the weather has been a little crazy, either very hot and humid or raining, so this will have to be indoors.
I thought of using the beach ball dishes and beach toys on the table from a previous tablescape.
Click link to see entire Beach Ball post.
Then I thought a basket of food would be better for a 4 – year old than a ceramic dish, so I started thinking of what would go in a basket for a child. The usual hot dogs and hamburgers came to mind and then I had a thought… how about a corn dog? I am sure he doesn’t have that everyday and it might be fun to eat a hot dog on a stick.
That’s all it took and my mind started to go from there. I would make the tablescape as if he went to a State Fair. The New York State Fair is in full swing and short of taking a field trip to Syracuse, I had to start thinking.
I wrote down all the food and snacks I was thinking about to have them both Grandma and Mom approved. I didn’t want to go against any family food restrictions or allergies.
So once I got the green light on the food, I was ready to go.
This tablescape is my rendition of a State Fair. Hope you like it…
Here is the menu with snacks…
- corn dogs
- French fries
- cracker jacks
- cotton candy
- kettle corn
- cupcakes (ice cream would melt)
- funnel cake
First the tablecloth – I wanted something fun and one of my linen tablecloths wouldn’t work, so I bought a plastic “popcorn” themed tablecloth from the party store.
I had to buy some popcorn napkins to match.
No dishes, just red plastic food baskets lined with red & white check food grade tissue paper.
Lunch will be a corn dog, French fries and a box of Cracker Jacks.
(I still love Cracker Jacks. Much better prizes back in the day).
I made the corn dogs but bought the French fries because I love the large crinkle cut fries from Nathans.
(Recipe for homemade corn dogs at the end of the post).
No glasses, just cans of lemonade and bottles of water.
All served on a square wooden charger plate. It really comes in handy as a tray.
The first snack is cotton candy. I decided to serve this in sugar cones, since I couldn’t get the paper cones or sticks that the cotton candy usually comes on and I didn’t want to purchase a cotton candy machine.
Next up, roasted peanuts served in white ceramic berry baskets.
Now, my absolute favorite food on the Midway- funnel cakes.
Homemade funnel cakes are easier than you think to put together and don’t forget to cover them in powdered sugar.
I served them on a white tray and added the cutest mini boxes of my favorite flavor jelly beans – Popcorn!
I need to work on my technique…
(Recipe for homemade funnel cakes at the end of the post).
Of course we had to have popcorn with a popcorn themed tablecloth. So I filled plastic popcorn containers at each place setting.
I added a ceramic popcorn shaker to the table, that is supposed to be used for extra salt but I use it for finely grated cheese.
(Love popcorn and grated cheese and a touch of cayenne).
Well, the food is taken care of, so on to the tablescape.
I remembered all the stuffed animals that I brought home from fairs and carnivals that my son won from various Midway games, so I thought it would be fun to place some stuffed animal “prizes” with carnival tickets all around them as a table accent.
(I really missed Toys R Us not being in business anymore for this purchase).
Of course my friend’s grandson can help himself to whatever he wants.
And now the centerpiece.
I have, believe it or not, a white metal & galvanized Ferris wheel that hold cupcakes.
I bought this last year at Pier 1 and it was just too cute to pass up. It was one of those purchases that I brought home and Bob said, “Do you think you’ll really use that”?
I am happy to say that I have used it on numerous occasions as part of a dessert table at an outdoor barbecue – good conversation starter.
I cheated and bought frosted cupcakes and topped them with kettle corn (another State Fair treat) and added them to the Ferris wheel.
(I just didn’t have the time to bake and frost cupcakes).
I think it looks really cute and what child wouldn’t want to pick a cupcake off of that Ferris wheel?
Okay, so I have the food, table accents and a centerpiece, but I wanted to do a little more and send him home with a party favor.
This took me a while to think about and then I had the best idea.
What is the ultimate take away prize from the Midway that “everyone” has taken home at one time or another? Give up? A goldfish in a bag.
Of course I wasn’t going out to get real goldfish, but I could make a goldfish in a bag soap. So that is what I did (with my craft assistant Bob to help me).
Sometimes it pays off to be Cub Scouts den mother, class mother and PTA President. You remember some crafts from the past. (And I mean 27 yrs ago in the past).
I’ll have to make one for my son for his Christmas stocking and see if he remembers this from grade school.
Some melted clear suspension soap, a vinyl goldfish, clear cello bags, some twine and we are in business. Fragrance can be added to this DIY project. I didn’t want to attempt that because I was afraid that the fragrance would change the color of the soap and make it cloudy.
Once completed, I placed a goldfish soap bag at each place setting.
Now my little guest has something else to take home along with the stuffed animal plush toys.
I was not given permission from the author of this DIY project, to post her project instructions on my blog due to copyright laws. Sorry.
If you are interested in making this craft, there are so many tutorials for this project on Google.
I am done with this tablescape and now I just had to wait for their arrival.
I hope they like it…
PS- If all else fails and he doesn’t like anything and is bored, my backup is a sand art kit to keep him busy.
Either way, something else for him to take home.
I hope all of you enjoyed my rendition of a State Fair tablescape and it gave you some ideas that you can use in your home.
Until my next post, make every day a celebration!
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Homemade Funnel Cake
(recipe was given to me many years ago- author unknown)
1 – 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg
2/3 cup milk
2 TBSP sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt,
1 tsp vanilla
Mix all ingredients well and add more milk if too thick.
Instead of a funnel, use an old plastic squeeze ketchup bottle…EASIER!!
Heat a small amount of canola (or vegetable) oil in my small cast iron skillet.
Then, ……I random squirt and swirl batter in oil.
Flip when it starts bubbling and turning brown (like you do when making pancakes.)
Serve with confectioners sugar
Before I continue, these are the best bamboo skewers I found for corn dogs or candy apples, perfect size –available on Amazon – (6 1/2 inches, 100 pieces for $8.90).
Homemade Corn Dogs
PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES… COOK TIME: 3 MINUTES… TOTAL TIME: 13 MINS are a classic fair treat, and now you can make them at home! – adapted from Cooks County Recipes.
Mix together a quick cornmeal, dip the hot dogs, and fry!
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 hot dogs
all-purpose flour, for rolling
vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
Preheat the fryer to 350 degrees F.
To make the batter, whisk to combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and nutmeg.
In another small bowl, whisk to combine the buttermilk and eggs, and mix this into the dry ingredients until there are no more streaks of flour, but be sure to leave lumps in the batter (do not stir those out, as you may over-mix). Transfer the batter to a tall glass.
Skewer the hot dogs onto wooden sticks and roll the hot dogs in enough flour to coat, then shake the excess off.
Dip the floured hot dogs into the tall cup of batter and put them straight into the fryer for about 3 minutes, but be sure not to overcrowd your fryer. Depending on size, you might need to make two or three batches.
The corn dogs are ready when the exterior is golden brown.
Serve the corn dogs with ketchup and mustard if desired, and enjoy!