Planning a children’s party? Looking for a clever, affordable solution for party food? This is the answer!
Last time I took my three year old to a birthday party, the food table was groaning. Despite some redistribution, it was still groaning at home time! Food can be one of the biggest costs involved in hosting a children’s party. But the fact is, small children really can’t eat as much as you think they can eat. They can’t even eat as much as THEY think they can eat.
Beautifully laid out dishes of crudités and expensive, freshly prepared fruit platters are guaranteed to be ignored. Toddlers can’t really get their heads around a buffet arrangement, favoring the approach that what is near me is mine. For this reason, my son glanced up, saw the bowl of party rings right in front of him and promptly emptied them all into his plate. He did his best to eat them all, but there they remained, before being unceremoniously dumped into a bin bag at the end of the party.
To avoid this scenario, serving the food in individual party boxes, each with a portion of everything inside, is ideal for young children. These are available from many online retailers in a wide range of colors, themes and styles, or you can get plain ones and decorate them yourself.
With individual lunch boxes, you can portion more accurately, avoiding excessive waste.
- Try to picture how much each child is likely to eat
- Think about the amount of ingredients needed per child, then scale it up to suit your numbers
- Now sit down and write a shopping list – this will really help you not to overspend
If you are worried that there might not be enough, you can always stick a couple of extra plates on the table with a few more bits so those with a larger appetite can help themselves.
“Oh goody, sandwiches!’ said no small child ever. A cheese hedgehog, on the other hand, will have them chomping, no questions asked. Try using a variety of biscuit cutters to add to the fun! Keep it simple with cream cheese, ham and cheese in your sandwiches. You could opt for popular pitta bread or wraps.
Not sure what else to put in?
- For savory snacks, try cheese cubes, cocktail sausages, breadsticks, a few crisps, a handful of popcorn, or carrot, cucumber and pepper batons
- Sweet treats might include fruit leather, a box of raisins, jelly cups, a small bunch of grapes, or a biscuit
- When it comes to the cake, you can’t beat cup cakes for ease. Decorating each one with sweets to create funny faces is a fun idea and goes down really well with little ones
Wrap the portions in cling film to stop foods such as sandwiches from drying out. Cup cake cases make a colorful, effective way to separate different unwrapped foods. Fill the boxes with the contents before the party starts, and pack them into a large container. Find a cool place to store them, out of the way of your marauding guests until it’s time to eat. You can keep them fresh by nestling a few freezer blocks between them and covering with newspaper.
Got plain boxes? Decorate them with stickers to jazz them up. Children love the idea of something that is theirs, so why not write their names on too? You could put a party popper, mask, hat or badge in there to add to the fun.
Labeling them with the guests’ names means everyone knows where to sit. For a joint party, you can make sure all the birthday children are seated together ready for cake time! With several groups of friends brought together to celebrate their birthdays, you can organize your boxes so that everyone ends up sitting next to a familiar face.
Another bonus of individual boxes is you can cater for any dietary requirements or allergies that your party-goers may have. You can relax, knowing no one will be served anything they shouldn’t eat.
So, be imaginative and have fun!
Tutorial by Alice Hanby
Party Box image and DIY instructions by Raphaele