I saw recently on my vice, Pinterest, an ingenious idea for mess-free finger painting. Unfortunately, I can't find the original pin, but I decided to try this to see if Littlest Dude would enjoy it.
And enjoy he did. I used painters tape to attach a plastic bag to his highchair, filled it with dollops of three colors of paint and let him at it. He had a blast mooshing the colors about. I also gave him a fork to make lines and shapes. I would definitely suggest using a freezer bag as the plastic is thick enough to keep little fingers from popping through. I would also suggest fully taping the bag down as my little one spent a lot of time trying to take the tape off. Overall I think he played with it for about 15 minutes. That would be just enough time to prep dinner. Altogether a successful attempt to amuse a nearly two-year-old.