From never-ending present wish lists to the perfect cake, Instagram and Pinterest have a lot to answer for when it comes to planning a birthday party your kids will remember.
With all that pressure, it can be easy to forget it’s supposed to be a celebration! Tick one thing off your list! Reduce the stress with these easy party food ideas that kids (and adults) will love.
Like any good menu, the key is balance. It might be a party, but a buffet made up of all sweet delights is asking for sugar highs and teary lows.
Also, be realistic about how much you’re able to make from scratch. Sure, homemade food is great, but you’re there to make memories, not washing up! Don’t be afraid to buy ready-made versions of certain dishes to save time.
Before we get to the good sweet stuff, think about including some of these healthy snack ideas in your birthday buffet.
Healthy doesn’t mean boring. Fruit and veg offers plenty of opportunity to get creative.
Pick up some fresh fruit and veg in a range of colours. Red cherry tomatoes, orange carrots, yellow peppers, green cucumber, blueberries (or roast aubergine if you don’t want to mix fruit and veg). Using a large platter or tray, arrange them by colour into a rainbow. Adding some dips like hummus or tzatziki on the side (age dependent!). Even fussy eaters won’t be able to resist a little something.
Keep up the creative streak with another quirky dish: the cucumber crocodile! If you haven’t heard of this, just put ‘cucumber carving’ into Pinterest — you won’t be disappointed.
To recreate this snappy masterpiece, you’ll need a cucumber, cocktail sticks, cheese (mozzarella balls work really nicely), cherry tomatoes and a bit of patience. For images and full instructions, take a look at the Little Foodies blog or do a quick image search online and create your own version — watermelon hedgehogs also look great.
This is the place to serve up some more substantial food that will keep everyone going right through to the end of the party games.
If you’re sticking with a cold buffet, sandwiches are always a great staple. Make them more festive by using a biscuit cutter to make interesting shapes. This is also a simple way to get kids involved in the party-prep process.
Pasta salad is also a versatile option that can be prepared ahead of time. If you’ve got some attendees with dietary requirements, it can also be made with gluten-free shapes.
If you want to include some hot items in your birthday buffet, mini pizzas, potato wedges or sweet potato fries are great for filling hungry tummies and don;t have to be as unhealthy as you might think!
Mini pitta breads are perfect for making a lot of little pizzas quickly. You can even turn it into a party activity, by creating a toppings station where kids can add what they’d like to eat — much easier than trying to pick a pizza everyone will like. A few minutes under the grill and they’ll be good to go.
Rather than making your wedges or fries from scratch — you’re way too busy carving your cucumber crocodile for that! — pick up some ready-made ones. For an extra special side, go with something like the McCain Shake Shake Sweet Potato Fries. Sprinkle the sea salt and three pepper flavouring into the bag, shake, bake and you’ve got the perfect hot side dish.
It’s cake time! Instead of making a large cake, consider making or buying cupcakes instead: it’s easy to make sure you have enough and there’s no pressure to try and recreate a seriously impressive character cake.
You can even this into an activity as well, by letting everyone decorate their own cake.
It’s a great way to keep everyone involved and get some brilliant, messy pictures of the masterpieces in progress. Plus, no mum-shaming here, as we can’t all be artists with the piping bag!
Go retro by pairing your cakes with some real classics like party rings and chocolate fingers or, chop mini rolls into smaller rings to make mini canape-style desserts (and make the packet go a lot further)! Pop some cream and half a strawberry on top for a fancy-looking but low-effort dessert.
Whatever you end up putting on your menu, remember to try and relax — it’s about celebrating the day together, not spending the whole time in the kitchen.
Do as much prep in advance as possible, find a balance between making things from scratch and ready-made and enjoy the party. After all, they’re only little once!