Adults throw dinner parties where the entertainment includes a fabulous dining experience and a chance to socialize. A kids party, on the other hand, is all about the games, activities and treats. It’s unfortunate that as we get older we often limit our amusements to eating and end up using any spare time exercising to rid ourselves of unwanted pounds that our indulgences produce. Ironically, kids often find meal time more of a chore than an entertaining experience and yet they have metabolisms that allow them to eat just about anything without ever facing the negative consequences.
I’m not condoning reckless abandonment of the four food groups and I acknowledge that poor eating habits put kids on the destructive path of obesity, but we’re talking about parties here and I am assuming that a party is a special occasion for a child and not an everyday occurrence. As the host, your primary concern is for your guests and the most important thing you need to concentrate on is making sure that everybody has a good time. Since a kid’s idea of a good time is not necessarily based on a meal, a host of a kid’s party should plan for a lot of games and activities and spend any culinary efforts on treats and dessert.
Kid’s parties don’t have to be long, an hour and a half to two hours is plenty of time. Schedule kid’s parties between meals so that parents know you aren’t feeding the kids. You can also say that “light refreshments” or “treats” will be served in the invitation implying that “lunch” or “dinner” will not. If your adult “need to provide food” can't be ignored, there are simple and easy meals that you can serve at a kid’s party like hot dogs and pizza.
If you are worried about a bunch of sugar-induced-crazy-kids running around, relax and serve the cake last. I actually love to serve cupcakes because they are less messy and can be easily sent home.
Another thing to think about when serving food at a party is allergies or food sensitivities. Nut allergies and gluten sensitivities are two of the most prevalent food issues that plague our society today. At my son’s first grade party I opted to forgo the meal and just deal with treats and dessert. It turned out that one of the guests was allergic to strawberries. Her mother was so thrilled that she was invited. Apparently other parents had been too nervous to deal with her allergy and so she rarely got party invitations. I tried to insure that all of the food at the party complied with her allergy but just to be safe, the cupcakes and treats were given to the kids as they left the party.
As kids get older they appreciate food more and can enjoy parties with food based themes like mystery dinners or progressive dinners. Until then, however, keep it simple and just let them eat cake!
Photo Credit: iStockphoto and Party Time Mysteries