It’s time to plan that next birthday party. Do you really want more chips, candy, and cake? This year, promise yourself you’re going to strive for a healthier birthday party.
So…what’s on the menu? Our top five tips include:
1) Lots of crunch
Fresh fruits, veggies, popcorn, whole-grain crackers, favorite cereals, and even nuts (but only if there are no allergy issues at the party). Your food is going to be a lot more appealing to kids if it has that satisfying “snap, crunch” factor.
2) Mad color
Of course you’re going to have tons of crisp fruits and veggies. So play it up. Don’t settle for pre-packaged fruit and veggie trays if the produce looks sad, limp, or washed out. Does your kid like carrots? Make a fun tray of yellow, purple, and orange carrots. Is your kid clamoring for chips? Go a little radical with some sweet potato or other root chips. (His friends won’t know they don’t like them until they try them.)
3) Eye-catching displays
At most parties you might walk by a bowl of chips or party mix and either walk right by it or mindlessly grab some. Make your food visible and intentional. A veggie tower; a cornucopia spilling with fruit; some crazy watermelon carving…you get the idea. Weave your theme into your display. Better yet. let your kid brainstorm on the best way to display it.
4) Make your own
Not you – them. We’re talking make-your-own pizzas, taco bars, baked potato bars, a mocktail bar, and so on. You offer plenty of toppings that include green onions, chopped bell peppers, avocado slices, etc. If the kids pass them up – fine. But why not give them the opportunity to add a little color to their creations?
5) Break the mold
Yeah, yeah, chips and candy. This time, let your child choose one special food that he likes that’s a little bit “off the grid.” Does he have a weakness for wontons? A hankering for hummus? A temptation for taquitos? A sensation for samosas? OK, we’re going a little overboard here, but you get the idea. Let your child’s individuality shine through by offering at least one special food that he loves. Example: At our last party, we offered up a giant bowl of black kalamata olives – our kiddo’s favorite. Who knows, maybe his best buddies might discover they like it too?
Last but not least, be realistic. Of course there will be cake, and probably other sweets. But you can remind yourself that it’s the nutrition you provide during the majority of the year that counts. And when you follow these tips, you can have a healthier birthday party without being a total killjoy.
Now – let them eat cake!