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We Had Bob Ross Over for Thanksgiving

Bob Ross dinner party

…and How You Can Have Him Over for Christmas

Enough is enough. That infamous pandemic has ruined many plans in our lives this year. So when the state guidelines called for people to not gather with large groups – including family members who live outside of one’s home – my wife decided that it was high time to “double down on the fun.” So, we celebrated the holiday in a whole new way with just our adult kids … and Bob Ross.

Ross, you will remember, was the painter who hosted his own show, The Joy of Painting on PBS for what seems like a million years. He passed away in 1995 at the young age of 52, but his legacy of painting “happy trees” lives on. Beneath his signature afro hairstyle was a calm man with a soothing voice who truly believed that everyone can paint if they really want to. He might have changed his mind if he saw my painting skills, but more on that later.

Bob Ross Party Table

We were given a party Bob Ross-themed party pack from Prime Party (known for creating various party supplies based on pop culture properties such as The Golden Girls, Beverly Hill 90210 and many others). While the pack is well-suited for birthday celebrations, we found that it worked well for our needs as well. The full kit (for eight people) comes with a jointed “Happy Birthday” banner, a huge plastic table cover featuring many of Ross’ works, dinner plates, dessert plates, “paint can” cups, lunch napkins, beverage napkins and favor boxes.

For a centerpiece, we created a giant painting pallete out of foam-core board. We cut hole for where the paint would go and instead placed clear cups filled with a variety of fruits (pineapple, mango, kiwi, grapes, raspberries and blueberries).  This unique, colorful element served as a do-it-yourself fruit salad bar which could have served as a veggie tray. We also added fall decorations such as pumpkins, fall leaves and a few woodland creatures to blend the Thanksgiving and Bob Ross theme.

While our dinner was a traditional Thanksgiving meal, our entertainment section for the night certainly was not. Our living room became an art studio. We set up a couple of card tables with paint supplies and turned them to face the TV. This is where we would not only observe the master’s skills in an episode of The Joy of Painting (you can find many episodes of the old show for free online), but actively take part in trying to create the same painting that he would be working on. After donning on our “authentic” Bob Ross wigs (also provided by Prime Party) we were ready to go.

We knew what colors to work with because Bob displays the color names on the bottom of the screen before he gets going. Ross was an oil painter, but we decided to use acrylic paints instead, which for non-painters like us, ended up becoming easier to work with. The paint is similar in texture, but is water-based, so it dries much faster.

Painting supplies can become a costly venture, especially for an event such as this, but we were fortunate to find small painting canvases, paints and a variety of brushes at our local Ross Dress for Less store for a lot cheaper than if we have made the purchase at an art store.

The idea of these teaching videos is to paint along with Bob without stopping. However, our crew was a little intimediated by everything and so we stopped the show numerous time to catch up. The epsiode was about 24 minutes long but we managed to stretch it out for about two hours! Even so, we found him to be very reassuring and we kept repeating the phrase “We don’t even care” as our mantra for the evening.

And the end result? Well, it varied. While we were all painting the same picture, all of our pictures looked completely different and none of them looked liked Ross’. Although not perfect, we all could find something with out techniques that worked and we could appreciate. We continued to chat about it while enjoying dessert. It was fun time that we’ll all remember and will likely revisit soon.

We can’t all be Bob Ross.

Jeffrey Totey View All

I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.

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