Kids love birthday parties for the entertainment, the games and the cake—everything else is secondary at best. Although the nibbles and noshes are not the main event, they should be age-appropriate, appealing to a child’s tastes, and fun to look at and to eat. Above all, be sure that the birthday boy or girl is happy with your selections.
What to Serve
For children ages 5 and under, consider serving buffet-style snacks rather than a full meal. Fill the table with easy finger foods that the children can munch on between games without taxing their short attention spans–foods such as bowls of fish-shaped crackers and fruit kebabs. Colorful disposable cups filled with pastina or alphabet-shaped pasta with butter and cheese is a better choice for toddlers, while older children are capable of sitting through a more formal sit-down meal.
Presentation Is Key
Even finicky eaters cannot resist when you present the food in unique and creative ways. Use small cookie cutters to cut slices of fresh fruit into fun shapes, and thread onto bamboo skewers or craft sticks to create a portable fruit salad. DisneyFamilyFun.com suggests cutting bread, sandwich meats, cheeses and vegetables into cubes and threading onto skewers to create a sandwichlike stickwich.
Use a pizza cutter to cut canned pizza or crescent roll dough into one-half-inch strips. Wrap strips of the dough around hot dogs to make a spiral or stripes. After cooking, insert craft sticks into the hot dogs, leaving roughly 2 inches out to hold the hot dog with. Serve with small bowls of ketchup, mustard and melted cheese for dipping.
Follow the Theme
Consider the theme of the party when planning the menu. For a Mexican motif, serve peanut butter and banana quesadillas with jelly or honey for dipping. Make flavored gelatin, cutting the amount of water used by one-half and adding gummy worms and bugs when it is partially set. Cut into cubes for a ghoulish delight.
Think of unique containers that will complement the party’s theme. Serve hamburger sliders, potato chips and some veggies on plastic flying discs that the children can use outdoors after the meal is done. For a beach party, pack individually wrapped lunch items into sand buckets with shovels for a meal on the go.
For indoor parties, make the food part of the fun and get the children involved with making it. Lightly toast English muffins, and set out with bowls of cream cheese and a variety of sliced fruit. Let the children spread the cream cheese on the muffins and top with fruit of their choice for a nutritious and fun fruit pizza. For a younger group, mix softened cream cheese with some blue food coloring. Set it out in bowls along with rice or popcorn cakes and bowls of goldfish-shaped crackers. The kids will enjoy spreading the “water” on the cakes and putting the fish in the pond.
Let Them Eat Cake
Cupcakes are a popular option for kids’ birthday parties, and there are a few simple tricks to make them different and fun. Before baking, drop a few candies into the batter for a special treat, like jelly beans with white cake or a chocolate and peanut butter candy for chocolate cake. For the hands-on approach, set out a cupcake bar with frosted cupcakes and an assortment of candies and toppings for the children to decorate their own. Or use small candies or colored gel icing to spell a message, with one letter on each cupcake.
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