a peek inside the fishbowl

26 Sep, 2012

That DIY tablecloth thing

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|File under crafty

First of all, thank you so much to all the people who’ve voted for my brunch menu so far. Three cheers for candied bacon!



If you haven’t voted, GO VOTE. If I win, 20 of you will win some free groceries. And who doesn’t need groceries! (Er, please read this post if you have no idea what I’m talking about.)

I’ve had so many nice comments about our DIY/draw-on-it “tablecloth” idea from yesterday’s post that I thought it’d be nice to share a few extra details about it.

The paper was purchased at Ikea for only five bucks. It’s called MALA and it comes in a giant 30m roll and you’d find it in the children’s department. It’s supposed to be used with an easel but we use it as Endless Doodle Paper. And it’s fantastic.

At some point I decided to start using it like a paper tablecloth (two long sheets pretty much cover our dining room table). The girls loved the idea and went to town with it.


You and your kids can:

  • – doodle to your heart’s content
  • – practice letters and numbers
  • – draw your favourite foods (with special emphasis on the food groups of course)

Older kids can think about it as homegrown graffiti! And it’s recyclable!

Here’s one Sarah started. She decided to draw place settings – including food – for each member of our family. This lucky person got sushi:

Our paper "tablecloth"

It’s a really sweet thing to do, and nice for me as well. I liked prepping dinner while the girls sat and drew and chatted.

It occurred to me that this activity would be really fun at Thanksgiving when there are extra people around the table. (How about caricatures of guests instead of place cards? Sketches and menu labels? i.e. “AUNT FRANGELINE’S NOODLE STRUDEL – LOADS OF NUTS”)


I got into the action as well… added a few things to our latest design:

Our paper "tablecloth"

Our paper "tablecloth"

I’d say that was five bucks that was VERY well spent, wouldn’t you? ;)

If you try this at home I would love to see your results! If you blog about it or post photos, please let me know in the comments below!

6 Responses to "That DIY tablecloth thing"

1 | Chantal

September 26th, 2012 at 2:31 pm


I am having my niece and nephew over for a sleepover this weekend and this will definitely make an appearance on our dining room table :)

2 | Rebecca

September 26th, 2012 at 2:47 pm


We LOVE doing this. I’ve blogged a few activities that we’ve done but this is my favourite:


Also, it’s a hit at play dates!

Have fun!!

3 | andrea

September 26th, 2012 at 3:05 pm


Chantal – I love the idea of doing this during a sleepover! Might make a fun birthday party activity too.

Rebecca – that is so cute! It’s so neat to see the things kids come up with!

4 | wendy

September 26th, 2012 at 3:16 pm


I’m heading to IKEA! Thank you!

5 | Sarah (mrsgryphon)

September 27th, 2012 at 10:03 am


This is one of those forehead-smacking “why didn’t I think of that!” ideas! Good one, Andrea :)

We usually roll out a long sheet at our birthday parties – as the kids are arriving, they grab a marker and draw pictures and write notes to the birthday girl. It ends up being like a giant birthday card that we hang up in the hallway after the party.

6 | binki

September 27th, 2012 at 11:05 am


Great idea for a rainy day. I know about those Ikea rolls of paper, which I use to make banners for special events (birthdays, marathon runners, anniversary). But have never used them for this purpose (which is brililant/cool). I also use rolls of manilla beige/brown paper which is sold for wrapping and sending items by post. Once everyone has had much fun drawing and writing, I cut out especially nice sections, which we stick on the fridge or bedroom wall. Imagine how much more special a package or gift becomes when it’s wrapped in this hand-made, very personal wrapping.

There’s a place at Esplanade Laurier that sells large rolls of this paper (manilla wrapping) for $3. Cheap. Wax crayons (red, lime, orange, etc) look extra nice on this darker earth-tone colour.

Excellent idea. Like the comment about using it for a birthday party activity.

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  • Will: Don't be afraid to be a prude. The world needs more prudes, not less. Don't let others shake you for caring about how your children dress and what the
  • Dean Prentice: Enjoyed reading your stories, having recently visited Silent lake and taking some time to take in the view from the memorial bench I too wondered who
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  • Jaye MacAskill: I love this! Great photos. We will definitely have to make a trip there one of these days when we finally make it up to Ottawa.
  • Jaye MacAskill: Sounds like a really fun time. Good for you guys!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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