Birthday parties can be an intimidating and stressful time for parents, especially when it comes to the food. While it’s usual to show up to a birthday party and see bowls full of lollies, chocolates and chips as well as plates stacked high with party sausage rolls, pies and fairy bread, the parents usually aren't fans of the afternoon sugar rush and the sudden crash that comes with these parties. Kids parties don't have to be unhealthy, in fact, teaching our children that a holiday or celebration is about spending time with friends and participating in fun activities rather than the array of food and drinks on display, is an important lesson for a healthy future. Of course, it is imperative children understand that they can still enjoy discretionary foods (foods that do not provide essential nutrients) in moderation as part of a balanced diet to ensure they maintain a healthy relationship with food.
If it is your time to host a party for a bunch of energetic little bunny’s, offering healthy options to the children and parents is a big move, but a very important one. Your guests may actually be secretly happy about being provided with better options and no parent is going to criticise you for offering healthier party options, right? However, is the thought of creating yummy, healthy food a little frightening? Are you worried about fussy eaters? Or maybe you feel you don’t have the time to prepare healthier alternatives of everything? It’s okay, you’re only human! Start with a deep breath and a notepad. Brainstorm generic party foods such as cupcakes, lollies, pastries, chips and sugary drinks (cordial or cool drink), then think about some possible alternatives to these and get prepping ahead of time.
Cupcakes can be replaced with homemade muffins or muesli bites. Anything homemade is going to be better than anything you find inside a packet and the good thing about these is if they are not all eaten, they can easily be frozen or used in the kids lunchboxes the next day. Lollies can be replaced with fresh, bright fruit platters or skewers and when it comes to savouries options such as mini quiche, pizza scrolls or little finger sandwiches will keep the children equally as happy! Give potato chips the flick and replace them with bowls of air popped popcorn, fruit and nut mix or fresh veggie sticks with dip. Why not try oven baking some wholemeal tortillas, cut them into triangles and pair them with a freshly made guacamole or salsa. Don’t forget to replace those sugar packed drinks with something like fruit infused water instead! But what about the birthday cake!? Well, firstly, homemade is always the way to go! There are so many ways to alter your traditional cake recipe to make it that slightly more healthy, from the type of flour you use to the frosting you create, it’s all about making small simple changes while still letting the children enjoy the most exciting part about a birthday! Check out our blog page to find a bunch of great healthy sweet and savoury recipes that are perfect for upcoming parties!
Whether it be classroom parties or a birthday party, there are a few little tips that can help make it a healthier environment. Firstly, serve foods and drinks with fun and exciting cups, plates and straws and use cookie cutters to make snacks more interesting. Creating a theme for the party can help you become more creative with your snacks and use them as decoration also! Try shifting the focus from food to fun. Get the kids involved in games (that don’t involve food as rewards) for example a dance party or treasure hunt, where they can be active whilst having fun. When it comes to party bags, replace all the sugary sweets with more natural treats such as yoghurt covered dried fruits or bliss balls along with some little party poppers, stickers and other small toys to fill up space. Children have more fun with play and it’s all about the element of surprise of the goody bag rather than the sweet treat component of it. If you feel like changing things up a little (especially in the warmer weather), send the kids home with a homemade yoghurt ice cream or fruit icy pole instead of a party bag.
Your final step? Be proud! You are filling children’s tummy’s with nutritious, wholesome snacks that will have them feeling so much better than those prepackaged, not-so nutrient dense foods and the parents will LOVE you for it. Give yourself a big pat on the back!