Personalized Place Mats

From the May/June 2007 Issue of Simple & Delicious

place mat with settingKids will be eager to "lend a hand" setting the table when they get to create these painted paper place mats. They're easy to make ahead of time with the help of an adult.

To start, you'll need 12-inch by 18-inch finger paint paper, washable finger paints, wooden craft sticks to stir the paints and disposable plastic or paper plates to hold the paint.

Since this activity can get messy, you may want to cover your work surface with newspaper first.

hand in paint

1. Spread one color of finger paint in a thin layer on a plate. Press child's palm and fingers into the paint to coat them evenly.

2. Firmly press child's coated hand onto a sheet of finger paint paper, making sure the palm and fingers come in full contact with the paper. Lift the hand, cover it with more paint if needed, and repeat on another area of the paper.

You may want to make handprints in the same color on all of the place mats you're creating, then allow them to dry a few minutes before continuing.

paint on paper

Wash child's hand and repeat process using a different color of paint.

Feel free to border the place mat with the handprints to create a frame for the dinner plate or overlap them in a random design for a different effect.

Allow the paint to dry completely before placing place mats on the table. Then top each place mat with a plate and silverware.

Centerpiece Spells Out Good Wishes


A set of children's wooden alphabet blocks is all you need to build this cute centerpiece that greets the guest of honor.

Since you can easily change the greeting to fit the occasion, it's wonderful for Mother's Day or Father's Day, baby showers, graduation celebrations or kids' birthday parties.

Simply stack the blocks to spell out the appropriate message such as "Happy Father's Day," "Welcome Baby," "Congratulations" or "Happy Birthday."

Use the picture side of blocks to act as spaces between the words and to add color.

You'll want to place the centerpiece so it faces the guest of honor. Or use it to decorate a buffet, dessert or gift table.

If you have plenty of blocks, use them to create place markers at each person's place setting. Spell out each guest's name by stacking the blocks vertically.