I mainly specialize in Styling Kid’s Parties!
And although I only advise my clients on food choices, I’m not a caterer – but I’ve attended and styled enough parties to know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to feeding the hoards of muchkins at your event.
Here is my list of Kids Party Food – The Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to kids events:
Include Healthy Options – It is amazing what kids will eat these days. Fruit Cups, Salad on a Stick, Individual Hummus Dips with Veggie Sticks etc. If in doubt, get on Pinterest and check out some of the amazing healthy options out there. Kids parties are no longer Chips, Lollies and Fairy Bread! You can follow my Pinterest Board Mini Parties for more inspiration!
Check beforehand for any Food Allergies – Chances are, a parent of a child with severe allergies will contact you first, but it’s always good to check. Especially when it comes to nuts, dairy, wheat, etc. And while you don’t have to cater the whole event around little Johnny’s gluten intolerance, it’s nice to through in an option or two.
Outsource – Order some Fresh Platters of Salad Rolls or Baked Goods from your local bakery. It will be worth it for the time you save alone AND the cost will probably not work out too much different then if you were to make everything yourself. Same goes for the Birthday Cake – I officially give you permission to order a cake. Go on, do it. Save yourself the stress! Your child will remember the party, not whether you made the cake from scratch.
Supply Bottled Water – I know, it’s not terribly environmentally friendly, but the kids love it – especially if the bottles have cute little labels attached. Woolies and Coles sell mini bottles in packs that are relatively cheap – alternatively fill a couple of drinks dispensers with water and chopped fruit to make it pretty!
Create Individual Serves – Kids think that having their own little mini serve is fabulous. Individual Jellies with Fruit or Avocado Dip & Veggie Sticks etc. I like to offer a large bowl or Jar of Chips/Pretzels and let the kids use a little scoop to serve them selves into Paper Cups.
Get Creative – Novelty food is great, but don’t over do it. 1 or 2 dishes is great and can really add to your theme, but unless you’re a professional caterer or food stylist, try not to get carried away. Use food tent cards to give food a fun name that goes with your theme as well.
Extreme Themed Food – Someone always has to take things to the next level! Don’t be that parent who has to throw out dozens of grossly over-colored food that no one ate because they couldn’t tell what it was!
Cater for the Parents – Trust me, they won’t eat it! How many people have offered around a plate of food to adults only to have them turned down? Parents generally only eat what rejected morsels their kids shove at them when they’ve lost interest.
If you MUST – put together a simple (single) tray or food that the kids (and their gross sticky pre-licked fingers) can’t get to. Try and stay clear of dips and cheeses (communal food) and go for Mini Quiches, Mini Pies and Tasty Sandwich combinations.
Cater for Extra Kids – If they weren’t invited, don’t feel you have to cater for them. Full stop.
Serve Alcohol – Unless it’s a family celebration or you’re with close friends, don’t bother. Again, no-one will accept the offer – even the dads who have been dragged along against their will! Also – alcohol before 10am is wrong. Plain & Simple.
Just serve Crap! – Piles of Lollies, Chips and Biscuits are every child’s dream…. And every parent’s worse nightmare = You won’t be popular. Keep it to a minimum – just a few small bowls of the good stuff, especially if the kids are on the young side.
Provide Softdrink – This is a bit of a loose rule so apply it as you see fit. Basically if your kids drink it then serve it. For kids under 8-10, all that extra sugar is really not necessary – try to stick to water or juice. I make fairly diluted cordial and the kids don’t seem to notice the difference! Older kids might turn up their noses though 😉
Over Cater – Just because 20 kids are invited DOES NOT mean that you have to supply 20 of everything. You will have so much left over food that will just go to waste. Especially if you’re providing single serves of food – I have a bit of a two-thirds rule. If I have 12 kids coming, I’ll only have 8 Jelly Cups, 8 Cupcakes, 8 Fruit Salads etc. Also, try not to provide a huge smorgasbord of treats if you intend to provide a meal as well. I’ve been to too many parties where the kids are filled full of yummy goodies only to then be expected to have a sausage sizzle or similar for lunch.
So there you have it – I try to use these as a guide when consulting with parents on their menus for Parties. Hope it helps YOU!
Until next time 🙂