This month’s set design was inspired by the 252 Basics theme: Super Size Me (Contentment). I drew a lot of my inspiration for this set from the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movies. We are planning a lock-in based off the super-sized food theme for this coming weekend, and we will be watching both of the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movies.I have been looking forward to this month’s theme for a few months now. I LOVE the idea of giant food, and I knew it would be a big hit with the kids and adults. This month’s set design was a little more costly than last month’s theme, coming in at around $110. It’s a five-Sunday month and so far, the reactions to this set design have been worth the extra money and effort that went into bringing it to life.
The majority of our set design for this month can be seen in the picture above. I wanted our kid’s environment to look like a bunch of giant food decided to fall from the ceiling and land all over our stage. I think my goal was accomplished. Let’s start with the easy stuff: giant inflatable pool floats seem to be very popular this year. I didn’t even purchase all of the options I saw because there were so many to choose from. I did a similar set design for a theme day I created about three years ago, and the only inflatable food item I could purchase at the time was the pink donut. Target has a huge selection of pool inflatables this summer including the orange popsicle and slice of pizza pictured above. Other food items they had in stock when I was there that I chose not to purchase included: a cupcake, an ice cream sandwich, pink and chocolate donuts, a watermelon ring, and a rainbow popsicle. All of these items cost $19.99 and ranged between 4-6 feet in size. The popsicle and pizza slices we decided to purchase were both 6 feet tall. The donut inflatables seem to be everywhere this year, but the cheapest place I was able to find them was at Rue 21 for $12.99 each. We decided to purchase one pink donut and one mint green donut to give our set a little more color. Rue 21 is the only place I was able to find the mint green donut. If you can’t find them at Rue 21, you can find the pink donuts on Amazon, at American Eagle, or Target, but they will cost you around $20 each. Just a tip when trying to hang your inflatables, they resist tape- even gorilla tape wasn’t able to keep them on the poles where we attached them. In the end we just ended up leaning them against things and they still looked great.
We created some quick and easy popsicles to decorate the front of our stage and side trussing using pool noodle boards and paint sticks. We purchased six pool noodle boards in green and blue from the Dollar Tree and picked up six large paint sticks from the Home Depot for free. To cover up all the orange writing on the paint sticks, we spray painted them white. It is tough to find anything that will adhere the paint sticks to the noodle boards. We ended up using a lot gorilla tape and they have held together so far.
Obviously we had to have some giant spaghetti and meatballs to go with our theme. When I did this theme before, I created the meatballs using large foam balls, but I didn’t have a big budget this time around so I wanted to find a cheaper option. I found some large rubber balls for 99¢ at the 99 cent store, and decided to make those into my meatballs. When I bought them, they were marbled green and blue, and very glossy. To transform them into meatballs, I bought some sand paper to sand off the glossy finish so the paint would adhere to the balls better. I thought I was going to need a spray paint primer and some red and brown acrylic paint to give them the look I wanted, but it ended up being much simpler. I found a brown colored spray paint primer by Rustoleum, and all it took was one coat, and my meatballs looked amazing. They take at least half a day (12+ hours) to completely dry so don’t be alarmed if they are still sticky after several hours. I’d recommend leaving them overnight. Also, don’t make the mistake of buying the brown paint and primer. For some reason, the paint won’t dry. Just use a primer and they will turn out great. We strung two of the meatballs up from the ceiling in the front of the stage using lots of light yellow colored yarn for spaghetti. The rest of the meat balls were scattered around the room with lots of yellow yarn all over the place.
It’s a toss up between the french fries and the giant coffee cup on which item is my favorite for this set design. They both turned out so much better than I was anticipating. I have adults and teenagers wanting to come in each Sunday and take selfies with them to post on Instagram. Let’s talk about the french fries first. I was clearly copying a certain (in)famous fast food restaurant, and I wanted them to be recognizable. All I needed to create my giant fries was a bunch of yellow pool noodles, a giant box, and some paint. Yellow pool noodles were surprisingly hard to locate this year, but I finally found thirteen pool noodles at the 99 cent store after visiting three times over a couple of weeks. The only other place I saw yellow pool noodles was at Target for $2 each. I wanted to get them for a dollar or less, so I kept shopping. I was able to pick up a large washer box from a dumpster. (Did you know that many large stores have trash cans full of nothing but cardboard?) I also purchased one can of red spray paint and a bottle of yellow acrylic paint from Walmart. Making the french fries box is definitely the most challenging part of this project. Using a large x-acto knife, I cut one side of the box and all of the bottom and top flaps off of the box. Save these extra pieces for a false bottom you will create later. Next, I laid the box out flat, drew the two arches to cut out with a pencil, and cut them out using an x-acto knife. That is by far the most stressful part of the whole thing. Once you get the front of the box cut out, you are on the home stretch. To finish creating your fry box, fold in the two side pieces to create the sides and back. Tape it all together in the back. It doesn’t have to look pretty, it just needs to stay together. I used gorilla tape. Spray paint the whole box red (it should only take one can of spray paint to get a good coat). I didn’t do extra coats because I didn’t want to weaken the cardboard. Once your box is dry, you can paint a giant “M” on the front using yellow paint, or whatever you like. To create the fries, I cut the pool noodles in half and in thirds at an angle to give the appearance of more fries using an x-acto knife. Before placing the noodles in your fries box, create a false bottom to push your fries up to the desired height using some of the left over cardboard from the box. Cut a piece of the cardboard to wedge down into the fries box and tape it into place using lots of gorilla tape. To finish them off, simply arrange your fries in the box.
The giant Starbucks coffee cup has been the biggest hit with all ages. I actually only decided to make it last minute when I realized I needed to buy a large trash can to put some game supplies in. All I had to purchase besides the trash can was some white spray paint. We spray painted the whole thing white, using a white primer first, then a white spray paint. Once it was dry, we made a coffee sleeve out of natural colored kraft paper I had on hand from Dollar Tree, and wrapped the “cup” in it. One of the amazing guys on our Creative Ministry team blew the Starbucks logo up so it was on two pieces of 11×17 paper. I just had to (very carefully) cut it out and line it up using clear tape before taping it to the “sleeve” using double-sided duct tape. It turned out so well. The only problem is that it isn’t actually filled with coffee.
To bring the super-sized food theme out into the rest of the environment, we strung “spaghetti” all over the room. We also hung two smaller food inflatables we found at Dollar Tree (a pizza and watermelon rings) on the pipe and drape using gorilla tape. Both of these inflatables seemed to stay up just fine using the tape. To top it all off, we hung giant inflatable ice cream cones from the ceiling all over the room, using clear fishing line. I purchased three sets of three ice cream cones and only one of them ended up not holding air.
Warning: if you create this set design it will make you extremely hungry! I’m not kidding…it’s bad. As usual, there were a few ideas I had for this set design that I didn’t end up getting around to creating. If you need more items that are not inflatable, try creating a giant chocolate chip cookie and oreo out of large round tables and kraft paper rolls. You can also buy the big rubber balls at the 99 cent store or Walmart to create giant wrapped candies or suckers using clear cellophane and long dowel rods.
If you could create any super-sized food item what would it be?