Children’s birthday parties are often synonymous with pizza, fizzy drinks, sweets and of course cake. While these foods can fit into a healthful diet as occasional treats, if your child’s social calendar is picked full with birthday parties, you probably loathe the idea that they will be stuffing themselves with too many pizzas and sweet treats – sometimes two or three times a weekend. When it’s your child’s day to shine, you might want to consider throwing another type of party: one that serves up healthy foods while taking the focus off the sugary cakes, biscuits and sweets.
Remember it may not be as simple as serving them healthful food, if we want them to eat healthy we should aim to make food not only taste good, but entertaining. Here are some tips to making your child’s next birthday party a fun and healthier one.
Focus on the fun
Kids love games and arts-and-crafts, which are great ways to divert their attention from the food.
Have healthy beverages available
Quench kids thirst with water, milk (even chocolate milk) and 100% fruit juice instead of fizzy drinks, punches and other sugary drinks.
Homemade, Healthful and Yummy
- Think grilled chicken, tuna, nut butters, even veggie and avocado sandwiches. For added fun use cookie cutters to create shapes, or cut up a wrap sandwich to make pinwheels or “sandwich sushi”.
- Baked sweet potato strips or wedges
- Fruit smoothies in small cups
- Peel-and-eat edamame
- Baked chicken nuggets
- Fruit trays – again you can use cookie cutters to create fun shapes
- Whole-wheat pita triangles with hummus
- Baked tortilla chips with bean dip and salsa
- Baby carrots and cottage cheese dip
Turning the food prep into a party activity is not only fun, but kids also like to eat what they create, such as:
- Do-it-yourself personal pizzas using whole-wheat English muffins or pita bread for crust. Top with tomato sauce, fresh veggies, lean ham or mince, chicken pieces and some mozzarella cheese.
- Make-your-own fruit kabobs with chocolate “fondue” for dipping. Make fondue easy by simply melting dark chocolate chips.
- Swap the sweeties for whole-grain popcorn with a “flavour station”- garlic seasoning, hot sauce and even peanut butter are big hits on air-popped popcorn!
- A yoghurt sundae bar – Give each child a small cup with a scoop of frozen yogurt. Have fun toppings for them to choose from to create a delicious sundae. Fill small bowls with dried fruits (cranberries, diced apricots or raisins), fresh berries or diced fresh fruits, fruit compote, toasted nuts (slivered almonds or pistachios), seeds (pumpkin or sunflower), granola, crushed digestive biscuits, chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips and honey or maple syrup.
- You will be amazed at how many kids will go for sliced veggies with dip in addition to whatever else they are eating. Serve a platter of cucumber slices, baby carrots, grape tomatoes and pepper rings for kids to snack on during the party instead of candies and chips. You can also make it fun by styling the veggies into fun shapes!
To Eat or Not to Eat Cake
There’s no need to lose the cake, although you can do mini-cupcakes with light frosting to trim down portion size if you’d prefer.
Take away goodie bags have become a staple at children’s parties. Try some of following items for fun goodie bags:
- 100 calorie snack pack cookies or crackers
- 100% fruit leathers
- A craft or flower to plant at home
- Little books, pencils, stickers and erasers
- Pouches of marbles (for older kids)
- Play dough
- Crazy socks
- Skipping ropes
Happy Birthday little ones!