So you're starting to think about your child's birthday party, and in particular one of the main issues which requires a great deal of thought and planning - the party food. It can be a bit of an issue for many parents, and you'll get different suggestions from people depending on who you talk to. Here are three different opinions to consider when it comes to planning children's party food.
This might seem surprising, but in fact many parents manage to avoid having to do much, or anything at all, when it comes to the party food. The trick here is to make sure that you plan the time of the party to be between normal meal times, rather than right over one. So a party scheduled for 11-1 or 3-5 will almost certainly require food to be served at some point. On the other hand a party that is timed from 10-12 or 2-4 may be able to get away with not actually offering any food. We would still strongly advise making sure that there is plenty of squash and water to drink as children are likely to get quite hot and thirsty running around and playing games, but it may not necessarily be required to serve a huge table of food and a sit down meal. This reduces the cost of the party, cuts out a lot of the planning and preparation, and results in less mess. On the other hand there may not be an opportunity to bring out a birthday cake, and you will probably have to come up with a lot more game ideas to keep the children completely entertained for the full two hours.
Many parents are concerned about what they feed their children, and when it comes to feeding other people's children this can really become an issue. Stuffing children full of sausage rolls, crisps and fizzy drink isn't really seen as the right and responsible thing to do, and there are plenty of websites and books now available which list a range of healthy options for children. So instead of serving a bowl of crisps you could have a bowl of carrot sticks and a bowl of dip. Instead of fizzy drinks you could have fruit smoothies, and you could even cook your own pizza with healthy toppings such as tomatoes, tuna, sweetcorn, mushrooms and pineapple and cut these into slices. At least with this option you won't have to feel guilty either by sending children away without serving any food, or sending away children full of all the things we spend the rest of the time telling them they shouldn't really eat very often.
Whilst many people may worry about serving up less than healthy party food, many others simply note that serving healthy food is what you do most of the rest of the time, but that this is supposed to be a party, a time for celebrating, letting your hair down a bit and having fun. You wouldn't suggest going out with your friends on a Friday night and having a few pints of water because it was healthier than beer. Not that we're advocating serving beer at a children's party, but the principle is the same. It's a party, and it's supposed to be fun. Normally you get children to be reasonably quiet, telling them off for making too much noise or running about. At a party you encourage them to make lots of noise and run wildly about the whole time. It's not a time for carrot sticks, but a time for sausage rolls. If the parents of the other children want their children to eat healthily then they are free to do that the other 364 days of the year, but on this one occasion it's up to you, and so any rules go straight out of the window. Feel free to pick any of these options, or combine them to make your own up. You might go for option three but throw a couple of bowls of carrot sticks and dip on the table for those children who want them. Then your conscience is clean. unlike the bowls, which will probably still be full because given a straight choice most children will still opt for the sausage rolls and the cakes. Indeed, I think so would most adults too!