I don’t think that anyone will disagree with me when I say that there are few things worse than a hungry child, except perhaps a room full of them!
What food to serve at a birthday party was something that always used to cause me endless amounts of stress, until I realised that although important, isn’t very difficult at all. In fact, children don’t seem too fussed at all about the food at parties. Put a food item on a stick, cover it in sprinkles and bam, you are done! Ok not really, but almost. Over the last few years (and what seems like a million birthday parties) here are some of my ideas and tips for planning party food.
1. Have a balanced mix of sweet and savoury food: While most children would love nothing more than to chow down on cake, cookies and sweets all afternoon it might be nice to have a few healthier, savoury items as well. I know that when I take my girls to a birthday party I have no hope of getting them to eat lunch or dinner at home afterwards and so I really appreciate it if I can get a pizza square, sandwich or mini hotdog into them at the party.
2. Try to have something for the grownups: I am not talking about gourmet food here, perhaps some veggies and dip, a quiche (or mini ones) or some muffins. As much as I love hearing a billion children running around screaming all afternoon, it is also nice to have a slice of something and a cup of tea with the other parents while supervising party activities. And if it is a busy day there is a strong chance that it will be the first thing that I have eaten that day.
3. Put your food on sticks: or make pictures out of it, or put sprinkles on, or make mini versions. Children are all about the novelty factor and if you make the food a bit more interesting, then the little ones at your party are far more likely to want to it eat. Case in point, one year I put macaroni cheese into muffin cups and the children (and adults) couldn’t get enough of them.
4. Plan Ahead: There is nothing worse than getting ready to start preparing your party food only to discover that you are missing one (or more) key ingredients. Try and plan all of the food and make lists of what you need to make everything at least the week before. A plus would be to even start making some items during the week before the party so that you aren’t up the whole night before the party.
5. Use disposable cutler and crockery: At the end of the party there will be enough to clean up without you having to spend hours washing dishes too. These days there are so many different colours and designs for paper plates and cups that you will be able to fit them right into your party theme.
6. Outsource if need be: Let’s not beat around the bush, planning and pulling off a party takes a lot of time. There are many moms and dads who work full time and then still have to come home to cook, clean and look after children. The last thing that you then have time to do is bake 1000 mini quiches and a cake! Fortunately, there are many places that offer catering services, from platters that you order and collect to full on catering, all depending on your preference and budget. Another alternative is to have a braai where you can serve boerewors rolls to your guests (big and small) and then have a small table with sweet treats. We have done this twice now and it really seems to work well.
7. Get your children involved: Now that my daughters are a bit older I have started asking them for ideas for party food. They tell me what to eat or we look through Pinterest ideas boards together. I have found that it takes a lot of the pressure off me to decide and at least I know that if they have chosen the food, there is a greater chance of them actually eating it too.
I hope that these tips are of some help to you. If you are feeling overwhelmed just remember that this is a children’s party, not high tea for the queen. Relax, have fun and enjoy the experience