Fabulous Inexpensive Trays and Mats from Target

June 14, 2012

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At the end of of the summer season last year, I purchased several plastic trays on clearance at Target. All year I’ve been kicking myself for not buying more! They are so handy.

Lucky me, they’re back again this summer in bright, bold colors. Just perfect for the kiddos.

In additional to the trays are coordinating over-sized plastic mats in fun geometric patterns.

At a $1.99 full price for the trays and the mats, I’m going to stock-up this time. From art projects to dinning under the stars, we probably use these mats and trays daily!


On Friday or Saturday nights we usually have Family Movie Night. In general, we do not watch TV while we eat. Consequently, the children think it is such a treat to eat dinner in front of the TV while watching a movie. They know the routine. They set-up their plastic mats and I prepare a tray of usually all finger foods for each of them. The trays and  mats make serving easy and help keep crumbs and spills to a minimum.

Likewise the children love to dine outside. Since I would choose to Dine Al Fresco every meal, it’s easy for me to say yes to their pleas, “Can we eat outside tonight?” I prepare our trays, making it easy to tote meals outside.

Art Exploration

The kiddos engage in art exploration as part of our daily learning adventures. From paint to Play-Doh the trays and mats keep our tables safe from becoming one big sticky, gooey mess. I have found the trays particularly helpful in corralling Play-Doh crumbs. The trays and mats also make it easy to finish art projects over several days. We can leave the art project on the mat or tray and simply move it aside.

When the kiddos finish their art explorations, I simply run the mats under the water. Sometimes they get a little gooey but that’s fine. Much better than my table.

My children are also allowed to use sharpie markers when creating pen & ink and water color paintings. The mats protect our table from the permanent marker.

Birthday Party

I’m a practical Mommy who likes simple backyard Kids’ Birthday Parties. Miss Enigma loooooooooooves Play-Doh. For her birthday party, I spread a big plastic table cloth on the back patio and trays, mats, Play-doh, markers, water paints and paper. The kiddos were free to roam the backyard, play in the sandbox or spend some time making an artistic creation. My favorite two words are low-maintenance!

Time to Eat!

When it was time to eat, the kids each sat at a tray or mat and enjoyed a casual dinner sprinkled with conversations about the latest hot topics.

I grabbed a few trays before they were all gone but I’ll hit the clearance rack again at the end of the Summer! See you at Target!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Natalie June 14, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Happy Birthday to Ms Enigma! Her birthday party looks perfect. Nice score at Target too!

maryanne @ mama smiles June 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm

We have some similar trays I bought at IKEA, but I haven’t seen them there since. Good to know Target carries some!

I LOVE low-maintenance birthday parties – both as the hostess and for my children to go to!

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