I think that I divulged in one of my prior blogs that I have a thing for holidays…ALL of them! To celebrate them is to add a little color and a little festivity into our daily routine. My family has gotten used to me decking out a table, making a themed meal, and setting out books etc. in order to celebrate a major holiday or maybe a not so major holiday…does Flag Day count as a holiday? They have so much gotten used to it that their reactions to my enthusiasm could be taken for luke warm. I have tried though to ignore an upcoming holiday, only to be asked the question, “Mom, are you making that weird meal for dinner tonight since it is ???.” The fact that they used the word weird does not curb my enthusiasm, so I continue onward.
Tonight was no different except for the fact that I did not read the entire recipe for the Jumbo Jambalaya that I was making beforehand so I did not realize that chicken went into the dish as well. That presented a time obstacle to thaw out the huge frozen pack from Sam’s Club thus delaying our sit down dinner until 8pm. I told the family to pretend they were in France because they eat much later there. Again I was met with lukewarm glazed over gazes.
Seriously though, it really is worth it to put in a little extra effort to shake things up a bit and dress up the table a little or find out about the holiday and center your dinner around foods that go along with it. The kids and yourself might learn something new! For instance, as mentioned above, I made a Jambalaya for dinner and for those foodies that do not eat meals that come from one pot…picky eaters, I call them…they could make a Muffuletta sandwich ( a signature sandwich of the Big Easy). It is basically a sandwich made with salami, ham, provolone cheese and swiss or monterey jack cheese on a sesame seed roll. A special olive spread gives the sandwich it’s zip but do you think the one pot dislikers would go for an olive spread??? I apologize for the lack of pictures on the dinner entrees but the frozen chicken fiasco put a lot of stress on the chef…thus no time for pictures.
I did however take pictures of the table after I set it so I am very pleased that some other Murphy’s Law event did not take place and ruin those as well.
I have to admit that I made many of the decorations on the table a few years back for a Mardi Gras themed Bunco that I held (any of you remember that game when it was the rage?) I have a hard time throwing past projects out so I put them away each year in Rubbermaid containers and take them out again year after year. You can make colorful place mats in the signature colors of Mardi Gras with sheets of fun foam. I cut out these little jester hats out of the fun foam and with the addition of some sequins and jingle bells it added some festive fun.
The masks were from a party store and I added sequins above the eyes and hot glued the feathers on behind them. That really jazzed up a paper mask! I did tell you that I took these pictures Before everyone came to the table right? Definitely would not have looked so put together after my four boys sat down!
The jester hats were made from kits that I bought from Oriental Trading Company, a great on line source for fun party favors and inexpensive decor items.
I picked up these little favor cups at Pier One after Christmas one year, for an unbelievable discount as well as the sparkly accessories that I used to line and embellish the center of the table.
The table runner and Dr. Seuss type items were Christmas decorations that I purchased after Christmas for 90% off! I knew when I saw them that I could use them for something other than the Holiday that they were intended for.
Throw a few Mardi Gras beads on the table, a necessity, and there you have it!
We ended the meal with a King Cake…the traditional cake of the Mardi Gras festivities that is meant to represent a jeweled crown. It celebrates the three kings who came bearing gifts at Jesus’ birth since Mardi Gras season begins on January 6th known as Twelfth Night or Three Kings Day. Inside each cake hides a tiny toy baby, and tradition dictates that whoever finds it must host the next party (or serve the next King Cake). I have made this cake before in the past from scratch and it is not difficult but you do use yeast and have to let it rise a bit. One year, I made it out of Cinnamon rolls that I baked in a circle, frosted with the icing that came with it in the little squeezie packet and sprinkled the colored sugar on it. Could not get any easier than that except this year because I bought one! Many grocery stores and bakeries now sell them. When I brought it home we all had a laugh for on the outside of the box it read, “Choking Hazard: Caution! Non-edible baby inside this cake.” Any way you slice it…( couldn’t help it) there are always easy ways to make something look like you put a lot more effort into it than you did. It is all in the presentation and a little creative forethought!
I hope these ideas gave you a little food for thought on spicing up your every night tedium of meal time. You can adopt these ideas to any holiday and the winter season has a slew of them to break up the grey sky doldrums…okay…the usual grey sky winter doldrums, not this year! There is Chinese New Years (too bad I did not write a blog quickly enough to get my pictures posted in time), Presidents’ Day (cherries are a good food group to highlight that one with or any red, white and blue foods), Ground Hog Day (maybe you can skip that one…), Dr. Seuss’ Birthday (March 2nd…green eggs and ham…keep in mind that when you go to dye the eggs green that they are already yellow so if you add green coloring …you get a mud color…add blue…much more pleasant to eat!), Saint Patrick’s Day. You get my drift…shake things up a little bit, just don’t do it too often or you will get apathetic stares from your brood.