Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ring Bell for Service!

Poor grandchildren. Can you imagine? They've never been to a cafeteria! Not one of them! Never once enjoyed the experience of steering a plastic tray down a stainless steel counter. Never once placed their own rolled napkin of "silverware" alongside a cold drink, all the while peering ahead, anticipating. Some of my own best memories are dime store encounters with fluorescently lit food, mother beside me, encouraging something tasty and new. The best part was choosing - all on my own!

Grandkids these days! Far too soft on dining experiences, I'd say! Too much sitting at fancy tables, waiting to be served! Tsk tsk! Time for some old fashioned "do-it-yourself-ing." Time for grandma to step up and abolish "plated dinner syndrome" for once and for all!

I borrowed Mrs. Santa's brand for the cardboard box cafeteria I constructed for lunch at my annual Grandma's Christmas Cookie Baking Party. This year is our fourth event. And the kids are so ready for dining in style the way I did when I was their age!

Allow me now to escort you down the line in nostalgic imitation of simpler, tastier times!

Ring bell for service! This summons a scurrying grandma, a line up of hungry customers, and an audience of adoring parents!

You'll want to take a tray first. And a bottle of cold milk. Grandma's no pastry chef, but somehow those cookies not only managed to look like wreaths but they slipped nicely around the handy straws.

Poke around inside the paper stocking with your name on it to find a napkin-wrapped set of utensils. That perky little elf? Yours to keep, too!

Look for crisp carrot sticks and home baked cheese pretzel twists tucked inside packs of "Reindeer Food." Doesn't really make any sense, I suppose, but just seemed kind of "Pinterest-y" to label them like that!

Notice the "green fruit juice" in the clear plastic cup pictured above? Ha! Mischievous grandma planted a straw inside of Jello before it set and achieved her goal of fooling the kiddoes into thinking they were drinks!

Mrs. Santa and I rounded out our luncheon spread with appetizer sized plates of mixed fresh fruit paired with wells of creamy dip and smug little turkey meatball Christmas mice bewhiskered with chives, sporting almond slice ears, and bedded in white rice. We offered fool-the-eye cups of bright green mashed potatoes and a side sprinkling of lettuce dotted with tiny sweet tomatoes........

Hey, everybody! How about a round of applause? This kid's been to a cafeteria!


But three items remained! And there's a lovely "spirit of Christmas" story behind right below them!

One of my favorite blogs is Hoopla Palooza. As the name implies, it's a refreshingly original site. "Seriously Fun. Seriously!" Lisa creates wonderful food-crafty treasures for each and every holiday, plus plenty of ordinary times in between. I never miss a post. And that proved to be a very good thing for me last month!

Lisa enthusiastically joined an international group of talented and generous baking bloggers in a fund raising auction to benefit victims of the Philippine islands typhoon. I would have bid on anything Lisa contributed to the effort, but lucky for me, her dozen marshmallow snowmen were the cutest prize in the bunch! What a thrill to find out that I'd won and these zany little snow-children were on their way to live with me! Right away, I knew they'd be the stars of Mrs. Santa's Cafeteria at Grandma's Fourth Annual Christmas Cookie Baking Party!.....and of course, they were!

"How about a bite, kids? Just one little teeny, tiny little taste?"
"Naw, we don't think so, grandma! Sorry!"

And finally, you ask, did we ever get to baking our Christmas cookies? Well, yes, actually we did - with apologies for the national shortage of icing and sprinkles we triggered!

Merry Christmas, dear friends, both large and small!

This original design, like all blog content, is intended for personal use only. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Thank you!


  1. LOOK! LOOK at those smiles on the adorable grandchildren! LOOK at that cafeteria stand! LOOK at those perfect wreath cookies! LOOK at the elves! and the green mash potatoes! and the reindeer food! and the healthy snacks! and and and THUD! i just died cuz you put me over the top with all the sweet things you said about me! so now i'm gonna go and wipe these happy tears and hold my warm fuzzy heart all on account of you J, the most wonderful, thoughtful creative and loving grandma that all grandmas should emulate!!! thank YOU for making my holidays happy! and a MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOURS too!!! XOXOXO one of the best gifts i have is having friends like you :)

  2. Wow, I'm speechless! This is awesome! I was just saying to my husband that I feel kind of badly that my children won't be experiencing the cafeteria lifestyle until they're in high school because their elementary/middle school is an alternative program which requires partial homeschool. They eat lunch when they get home and always will. :( I liked the cafeteria! The food was mediocre, but we had fun! Your grandchildren are beautiful and they look so happy. You're a wonderful grandmother.

  3. Let me start by saying my first real job was at Ontra's Cafeteria and it wasn't anything like your place!!! What a wonderful day for all of them and you are just super amazing! Your attention to details (could that be called your Pinterestiness?) is just amazing. You just keep pushing that bar higher and higher! Merry Christmas!

  4. I am in awe - the things you do with the grandkids are fabulous. I like the cafeteria idea - you are indeed the Pinterestiest Princess - and fun too. LOL The kids look so happy - and why not - their grandma loves them and makes life fun.

  5. WOW. Your grandbabies are so blessed to have you as their Grandma! I really love this whole idea. It all looks so beautiful. :) Imagine that set-up at a bake-sale for a Church gathering. Just adorable. I'm really looking forward to see your future posts. I'm following you. :)

    Ila from

  6. Wow! What a display of wonderful treats! How much fun for all!

  7. I'm jealous! I think you should have a cafeteria line for all your blogging grandma friends who haven't been to a cafeteria in a while. :-) Every time I think you have surely outdone yourself, you kick it up a notch. What a beautiful holiday presentation and so much fun for the kids. You are in a zone all by yourself and deserve an Oscar for achievement in grandparenting because you are the best.

  8. This is amazing! Such lucky Grandkids! You really do win the prize for the grandma with the mostist! (I know that isn't a real word!) Thanks for sharing on The Four Seasons Blog Hop! Sandra from Scrumptilicious 4 You!

  9. I saw your post right after you posted it and was rendered (temporarily) wordless! You are the most amazing, creative Grandmother I could ever imagine. I'm in total agreement with grandparentsplus2 above. And your posts are like a "cafeteria" of delightful ideas presented to all your blogging friends. You know we thank you too, don't you? Merry Christmas!

  10. SUPER Grandma. I never cease to be amazed at the wonderful activities that you pull off / this is outstanding!
    These little kids are going to go to NORMAL people's houses and parties down the line and come home shaking their heads saying "boy was that ever lame compared to our grandma's parties! " LOL you are ruining them for life, Joyce! :) :) :)

    Another thing...this reminded me of a big Sunday treat, which was my uncle taking us all out to dinner with my cousins to..........a cafeteria at the local mall! To me, that was what a restaurant was about. I must have been deprived, ha ha because THAT was big deal. Either that cafeteria, or taking us to Baskin & Robbins for ice cream cones after lunch at my grandmother's in the summer.

    The kids photos are just adorable....they look so sweet and happy !!

  11. My grandchildren love going to Luby's. Somehow they can never pass on the green jello, although I'm not sure they ever eat it. I am sure that Luby's can never match your cafeteria, however! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  12. How wonderfully delightful! This was truly awesome!
    Thanks for coming by today and Merry Christmas to all of you.

  13. This is so cute! I love doing creative themed stuff and this is perfect, just pinned to my Christmas board. Thanks for sharing on the weekend re-Treat link party! Hope to see you again Thursday at 7PM.

    Britni @ Play. Party. Pin.

  14. I am just loving catching up with all of your old posts,J, and this one is no exception. It is FABULOUS! You are awesome! You grandchildren are just the cutest things, they look so happy and excited and I am not surprised. This looks like so much fun and I know my three would enjoy something like this too. You are an inspiration. :)