Operation COVID-19: Canceled Vacation

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A few weeks ago, my family and I were supposed to be off on a vacation of a lifetime to Europe. We had gifted our kids the trip as a part of their Christmas plus my oldest son just graduated so it was supposed to double as a senior trip…then COVID-19 happened and we had to cancel our dream vacation. As the date we were supposed to leave approached, I felt this great sadness fall over our family as I kept hearing, “We were supposed to be packing for Europe” or “I am so sad that we cannot take our trip”….and to be honest I was just bummed out. We had been planning for MONTHS! As I sat thinking about it one night, the idea surfaced to do a themed meal from each country we were supposed to visit. Now the SMART idea would have been to do a different country each night for 3 nights….but there were only 2 nights a week that my oldest wasn’t working and one of those nights was a late work night for my husband….so I opted to just do one night, cover all three countries and ended up with WAY TOO MUCH food-but we had leftovers for the whole week! The meal was so much fun and I couldn’t resist sharing the details and recipes with you all! I quickly discovered that my favorite portion of this trip would definitely have been the desserts, but I tried to also prepare some “non-sugary” treats as well.

For decorations I kept it pretty simple. I printed some signs that represented each city we were to visit with CANCELED written under it. I also ordered a flag streamer from each country on Amazon.

I also used cheap plastic table cloths on the table to also represent each country. I used red, white, and blue to represent England and France and orange, white, and green for Ireland. The red, white, and blue ran the length of the table, while the Ireland colors came across the middle to break it into 3 sections.

First Stop: London, England

The first stop on our European vacation was supposed to be London, England, this was at the request of my oldest son. He has always wanted to visit…to see Big Ben, the London Tower, Changing of the Guards at Buckingham, Ride the double-decker buses….plus so much more.

The England portion of our meal included:


These were really good, but a little dry. We all decided they needed something to dip them in so the cheese sauce on the next recipe doubled as a dip for the pasties.

Cauliflower Cheese

I am not typically a huge cauliflower fan, but this was so yummy. I can see this making its rounds into our menus from time to time.


Who doesn’t love a good butter shortbread? I had GRAND plans to roll this out and make it really look pretty, but time got away from me and then I was having a hard time getting the dough to stick together. So I enlisted my husbands help to just pat it out into circles….it was DELICIOUS, but not idea how they made theirs so pretty and rolled it out.

Hot Tea

You cannot have an English meal without tea. I have a pretty large assortment of tea and just pulled out what I had and displayed it on a plate.

Second Stop: Paris, France

The next stop was supposed to be Paris, France. We were supposed to take a train from London into Paris (seemed logical since the train ride was so short…and we have never traveled by train). We had reservations at this really cool looking hotel that had bunk beds built into the walls with sliding doors on each little “pod”. My daughter LOVES all things Paris (I think it came from the love of one of her American Girl Dolls, Grace, who was from Paris) and she was excited to see the Eiffel Tower and we had a list of things to do and see while we were there as well.

The France portion of our meal included:

Chicken Cordon Bleu

I think the chicken was everyones favorite. My oldest has asked if I would make it again and my other two kids (who can be a little picky) agreed that it should be fixed again in the future.

Chouquettes (French Pastry Sugar Puffs

I will be honest, these were NOT at all what we expected and nobody in my family liked them. Sadly, they made their way to the trash after dinner was over.


These are a family favorite and I have been making them for a few months….so I knew I had to use this excuse to make them. I wish I could figure out why mine don’t puff up as much, but regardless the flavor is amazing!

The Classic Napoleon

These were so good. Instead of puff pastry sheets (which I couldn’t find on Wal-Mart pick up) I got these shells. They were so cool because you bake them and they puff up then the little center portion pops out for you to fill with cream.

Third Stop: Dublin, Ireland

The final stop on our European vacation was supposed to be Dublin, Ireland. We were planning to fly from Paris to Dublin….and then a few days later return to the USA from Ireland. My husband was so very excited about this portion of our trip. Ireland has always been on his bucket list!

The Ireland portion of our meal included:

Irish Potato Cakes

Fried potato cakes were really good and a great complement to the meal. They made great left overs too!

Apple Cake

The Apple cake was good, but the custard cream served with it was DELICIOUS! I was trying to think of other things that it might go well with!

Irish Potato Candy

It surprised me that my kids actually liked these as they are not big coconut fans, but these might have been their favorite addition to the dessert portion of the meal.

Cabbage and Bacon

The cabbage and bacon was one of my favorite dishes. It had so much flavor and I found myself going back for seconds of it.

Once we were finished eating we did an at-home escape room from Lock, Paper, Scissors. We chose Rebel Revolt and I also used their party kit templates to make my signs. They send printable files and also some that can easily be edited. For my signs, I used their initial layout then added the country symbols and changed the wording. The escape room was fairly simple once we got the hang of it, but my kids thought it was too short since it took a couple of challenges to get the hang of it. They have several options that look fun if you want a different theme.

While this themed night wasn’t the same as actually being in Europe, it helped take some of the sadness away. Hopefully one day we will be able to fulfill this bucket list trip, but until then, we have had a little sample of each country!

Have you done anything fun at home to make up for canceled vacations? Share below!

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