Our Family Dinner Book Club selection for the month of March is Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers.
Here you’ll find a menu that can be prepared with the help of your children, and will hopefully be a fun and interactive activity for the whole family. Scroll all the way to the bottom for some easy crafts, as well. Head over to Growing Book by Book for some talking points to get the conversation started and an idea for a family service project. We invite you to share a picture from your dinner with us anytime during the month on our Family Dinner Book Club Facebook page.
Mary Poppins takes place somewhere near London, England and there are several mentions throughout the book about people enjoying Afternoon Tea. So I thought an Afternoon Tea would be the perfect meal to accompany this book. Being an ignorant American, I didn’t know much about all the various tea times and what they included. After searching the internet, I’m still not clear on the exact differences between any old tea time, High Tea, and Afternoon Tea. I do know a few of the menu items mentioned in Mary Poppins, though, and those are making an appearance here in this Family Dinner Book Club menu! Jane and Michael Banks get excited whenever there are Raspberry Jam Tea Cakes for them to eat. Another internet search left me with more questions than I had initially. I’m still not sure about the specific raspberry jam tea cakes recipes from the Mary Poppins world, but I do know that P.L. Travers was born and raised in Australia and moved to London as a young adult where she wrote this classic children’s book. A common tea cake in Australia goes by the name of Lamington, and sometimes includes a layer of jam in the center, so you will see a few of those pictured here. I’ve also included an American white cake swirled with jam for something completely different, but equally as sweet.
Afternoon Tea seems to be something of a hearty snack between finishing work or school and waiting for a fashionably late 8:00pm dinner to begin. So it is full of tea and sweets, of course, but also includes several savory and hearty dishes to keep the working man satisfied until dinnertime. I can never pass up a lovely charcuterie and cheese platter, so here you have a mini version.
Kids in the Kitchen!
Get the kids involved with preparing dinner. They can help measure and mix ingredients for any baked goods you choose to make. If you’re not much of a baker, or are pressed for time, take the kids to a local bakery for a special treat and let them choose a pastry or two to enjoy with Mary Poppins Afternoon Tea.
You might be surprised at the amount of foods kids will taste and consume when they can eat with their hands, or better yet, toothpicks or other skewers we normally would be worried to place in a child’s hand. If I give the girls 2-3 toothpicks each, they feel like they are enjoying the fanciest meal ever and will skewer everything on the table before popping it in their mouth.
Abby and Katie could barely contain their excitement while I was setting up this spread. They were most interested in the meringue cookies, so I was able to use those as the end prize for their involvement in preparing the meal as well as tasting some new things.
Kids can help spread peanut butter and jelly or just about any filling on sandwich bread, and then you can cut the sandwiches into triangles, squares, or sticks to serve with tea.
Family Dinner Book Club
Menu – Afternoon Tea
selection of teas
cheddar and mozzarella cheese
peanut butter stick sandwiches
egg salad mini squares
tomato cheddar sandwiches
raw sliced veggies
mini lamington squares
cherry jam cake hearts
For our Mary Poppins dinner table we made gold stars. Something really cool happens in the book that did not make it into the movie. Jane and Michael get a treat of gingerbread that is decorated with gold paper stars. They like to collect the stars and keep them in their room. One night, Mary Poppins takes the gold paper stars and goes down the street with her baker friend. They climb a tall ladder and put the paper stars in the sky where they turn into real stars! We used yellow paper and cut out stars, then used glue and gold glitter to decorate the stars and make them sparkle. Scatter the stars around your dinner table, hang some from the ceiling, and tape them to the walls to make a magical setting for your dinner that Mary Poppins would love.
We also made our own Mary Poppins hats. I followed this tutorial (check out all the other hat ideas, too!) We don’t have newspaper so we used construction and craft paper that we already has at home. The construction paper was the easiest to use, and I think newspaper would be even easier. Use ribbons, flowers, glitter, and anything else you have on hand to decorate your hats and then wear them to your fancy Afternoon Tea party!