Child’s Play: How to Throw The Coolest Kids Birthday Party

Photograph: Robin Selden

It only comes once a year and every kid looks forward to their special birthday party. It’s also a parents joy to throw them one. Here are some fun ideas for a menu from Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning that will work no matter what the theme is and please even the pickiest eaters on your guest list.

1. Serve Familiar, Easy Food
Kids aren’t that complicated—there’s nothing wrong with serving the classics like Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Chicken Fingers, Pizza or Grilled Cheese. Kids love those things the most.

2. Make It Finger Friendly
Kids prefer eating with their fingers, so why not let them? You won’t have to worry about silverware. Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches or fruit. Cut watermelon or pineapple slices into fun shapes. You can also use a variety of dips for foods like chicken fingers, fruit or veggie sticks—kids love to play with their food! We’ve even done a corn roast for kids where you grill them with the husk on and the kids can peel the corn and dip it in melted butter. Yum!

You can always serve a variety of dips like Hummus, Ketchup, Honey Mustard and BBQ Sauce. If you want to try a dip with a twist—kids love this one with fruit, pretzels or crackers:


Strawberry Marshmallow Fruit Dip

Ingredients:
4 oz 1/3 less fat Strawberry Cream Cheese, softened
1 C. Marshmallow Crème
6 oz container Greek Fat Free Strawberry Yogurt
½ C. Chopped Strawberries

Directions:
In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, marshmallow crème, yogurt and strawberries with electric mixer on high speed until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour and serve with a variety of cut-up fruit. We like grapes, apples, strawberries, and mangos.


Foods on sticks are made to delight kids—and the bigger kids will love these too.

Hot-Dog-a-Bobs
Ingredients:
Slices of Hot Dogs
Chunks of Dill Pickles
Whole Grape Tomatoes
Defrosted Tater Tots

Directions:
Pierce hot dogs on skewers, alternating with pickles, tomatoes and tater tots. Lightly spray the kebobs with olive oil cooking spray and grill until the dogs are hot and the tater tots are slightly brown and crispy. Serve with mustard or ketchup on the side!


3. Set-Up A Kid-Friendly Grilled Cheese Station

Do you know a kid who doesn’t like Grilled Cheese? Probably not. This is a surefire hit — it’s inexpensive, and the best part is, it’s simple to assemble in advance. The kids can choose their fixins before they even hit the pan.

Pick Your Bread:
White
Wheat
Brioche
Cinnamon Raisin
French Toast

Cheese Options:
Cheddar
Mozzarella
Brie
Cream Cheese
Fontina

Bring on the Fixins:
Smashed meatballs
Crispy Bacon
Fresh Roasted Turkey
Granny Smith Apples
Bananas
Raspberry Preserves
Nutella


4. Goody Bags Are Mandatory, Do It Up Right!

When you’re a kid, the best part of a birthday party is getting a bag bursting with swag on the way out the door. What child wouldn’t love filling a bag with different types of candy and sweet treats. Here are some tips to make the party’s end special and sweet.

Buy small containers—the larger they are, the more candy you have to have on hand. Try and use approximately five small to medium sized clear containers. You can color coordinate depending on your party theme, or you can use the candy rainbow! Provide small cellophane bags, mini paper bags, tied with ribbons, or small Chinese to-go containers which are available at most paper goods or craft stores.

Here are some of our favorite candy station candies:
Orange Gummy Fruit Slices
M&M’s
Tootsie Rolls
Swedish Fish
Sour Patch Kids
Caramel Corn
Chocolate or Yogurt Covered Raisins
Jelly Beans
Hershey’s Kisses
Salt Water Taffy

You’ll get major “Parent Points” by thinking outside of the bag, the candy bag that is:

  • Mini-Doughnuts piled high
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies individually wrapped in cellophane
  • Brownie Bites cut with a cookie cutter
  • Cupcakes that the kids can decorate with the candy are a big hit