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Creative Ideas for Teacher Appreciation Lunch

 

What do you do to thank those wonderful teachers who inspire your children on a daily basis?   For many years I was on the committee for the teacher appreciation luncheon at my children's school.   I have accumulated a number of creative ideas that I have shared below. 

First, you should select a theme.  This will help with the food and decorations.  Great and easy to work with themes include:  Beach, Summer, Luau, Spring, Garden, Patriotic, Western, Oscars, or Around the World.

Beach Bash, Last Luau, or Splash into Summer

For a Beach Bash, Last Luau, or Splash into Summer theme the menu can be a variety of salads such as tossed, spinach, tuna, shrimp, chicken, potato and fruit kebobs. Serve them with small rolls or croissants. Umbrella drinks are a must.  Desserts should be finger foods like chocolate covered strawberries and pretzels, brownies, cupcakes or cookies.   

Beach Cupcakes

White Cake Mix
Box Graham Crackers
Blue food coloring
White frosting
Drink umbrellas
Small gum balls
Colorful stick of gum

Make cupcakes according to white cake mix directions.  Use blue food coloring to dye half of the icing to look like the ocean.  Purchase graham crackers and crush them to make it look like the texture of sand. Take the cupcake and ice half of it with the blue icing.  Ice the other side with a thin coat of white icing.  Cover the white icing with a thin layer of crushed graham crackers.  You now have your ocean and your sand.  In the sand place a tiny drink umbrella and a gum ball to make it look like a beach umbrella with a beach ball under it.  You can also take a colorful stick of gum and fold it to look like a beach chair and place it under the umbrella.

Decorations for a Beach Blast should includes blue/aqua/white table covers,  fish shaped trays and beach buckets can be used to serve the food.  Table decorations can be clear vases or hurricanes filled with sand and sea shells tied with ribbon. You could also sprinkle sand and shells directly onto your table top for decoration. 

The Luau is easy there are tons of decorations available through Oriental Trading.  Be sure to keep it bright and cheery.   Consider flowers for a centerpiece. and give each teacher a lei upon entering the lunch.  Create name tags that include their name in Hawaiian.  The website www.alohafriends.com translates first names into Hawaiian. 

For Splash into Summer decorate in bright colors.  Think about using beach balls, sun glasses, flip flops, beach towels, inner tubes and beach umbrellas.  Create beach themed signage  "This Way to The Beach" for outside the entrance, "Food Hut" for the food table. 

Create a Cool Summer Drink -- Blue Crush

Ingredients for a single serving

  • Single serving of blue juice (Gatorade or Kool-Aid jammers)

  • 3/4 cup of ice

  • Gummy fish

  • Scoop of vanilla ice cream

  • Scoop of whipped cream or cool whip

  • Drink umbrella for decoration

  • Straw

Combine the blue juice with the ice in a blender.   Blend on high speed until the ice is crushed.  Pour this mixture into a clear glass.  Drop in a few gummy fish.  Add a scoop  of ice cream.  Top with whipped cream and a few more gummy fish.   Add a straw and a drink umbrella.

Spring and Garden

For a Spring and Garden themes think flowers and bright colors. For table covers consider brown paper with a strip of Astroturf down the center.  Your centerpiece can be several empty odd-shaped wine bottles with the labels removed clustered together with one dramatic flower in each;  A large vase filled halfway with lemons, limes, and small oranges then add  few tulips wedged between the fruit to keep them upright; Flowers potted in terracotta pots filled  Food should include pasta salad, taco salad, chicken salad, potato salad and fruit.

Patriotic

For a Patriotic theme decorate in red, white and blue with stars and stripes.  For a centerpiece decorate red, white and blue top hats.  First, cut a small hole in the top, center of the hat then push the ribbon from two or three helium balloons through the hole.  Attach a weight to the ribbon, this can be anything because it will be hidden under the hat.  Use tissue paper to cover the hole by taking a sheet folding it in half and pushing it through the hole. Continue adding sheets of tissue until it looks full.  Add a flag or star garland through the hole to further decorate and you have a centerpiece.   Serve "all-American" foods such as hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, deviled eggs, corn on the cob, watermelon or fruit salad, lemonade, cake, and desserts made in patriotic colors.  See All Star Activities "4th of July Fun" page for recipe ideas. 

Western

For a Western theme think dark colors like brown, tan and black then add a splash of red or denim for color.  Consider brown paper for table covers.  Then add red and white checkered or denim runners in the center of the tables.  Cowboy hats, toy horses, bales of hay, bandanas, red and white balloons can be used to decorate.  Make some wanted posters with the teachers and principals pictures.  Use lanterns with balloons tied to the handle for centerpieces and place a rope lasso around the bottom. The menu should include BBQ beef sandwiches, BBQ chicken, BBQ potato chips, baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, pasta salad, and watermelon.

Oscar

For an Oscar theme think of gold, silver, black and white.  Create a red carpet leading to  the entrance of the room.  Line the tables up to create a center walkway and create a walk of fame with a star for each teacher/staff member with a message stating something that they have accomplished. Serve the food in clear glass or plastic bowls.  Use black table covers on each table including the food table.  Food should be upscale like tossed salad,  fruit kebobs, sandwiches made of  roasted turkey and/or beef tenderloin on croissants, Swedish meatballs, quiche, shrimp salad.  Dessert should include chocolate covered strawberries, tuxedo brownies and star shaped cookies.

Tuxedo Brownie Hugs Cookies

Compliments of http://kidscooking.about.com

Tuxedo brownie cookies are the perfect "dress up" cookies for parties, birthdays and special occasions of all kinds. Even better: It only takes a few minutes to make these tuxedo brownie hugs cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 22.5 oz. package brownie mix with syrup pouch
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 13 oz. package Hershey Hugs Kisses (black and white), unwrapped

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. Or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
     
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the brownie mix, syrup packet, cocoa, water, oil and eggs together.
     
  3. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet, one inch apart.
     
  4. Bake 8 minutes or just until set.
     
  5. Remove from oven and let cool 1 minute. Press a Hershey "hug" in the middle of each cookie.

Around the World

For an Around the World theme you need to contact parents and ask them to make a dish that reflects their heritage.  You will just need to make sure you have enough entree's, salads and desserts.  Decorate each table as a different country.  For instance Ireland should have a green table cover and shamrocks, Mexico a bright yellow or pink table cloth and a piņata, Italy checkered table cover and flower centerpiece.