I like having birthday parties for my kids. The days that each of them were born comprise the best days of my life, and I think they should know that and celebrate. We keep them fairly small — family and a few friends — and steer clear of extravagant (although that usually means a lot of DIY time and work - more on our rainbow party here).
When it comes to food, I always let the kids pick out their special birthday treat to make, which is usually ice cream sundaes or a cake or cupcakes of their choice. This time around my new 5-year-old insisted on a cake with real strawberries, so we built a triple layer strawberry cream cake.
But aside from the one special treat, I try to keep the rest of the party snacks on the healthy side. My kids aren’t used to loads of sugar, and letting them snack on candy and chips and random sweets throughout the party is just not going to have a happy ending for anyone. None of them have ever complained about this. They have their birthday treat to look forward to, and for the most part, kids (and adults) happily snack on what’s within arms’ reach. Whether it’s candy or fruit that is sitting out, there’s a good chance they’ll mindlessly eat the same amount.
So here’s our healthier party snacks food spread:
Rainbow Fruit Skewers
We had a vaguely themed rainbow party, so these were perfect. Strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, green grapes, blueberries, and purple grapes. They looked beautiful, the kids thought they were neat, and they were delicious, of course.
Veggies and Humus
You’re supposed to eat the rainbow, right? We kept right on going with grape tomatoes, baby carrots, bell pepper slices, and celery sticks, all favorites of my kids. The homemade humus is a Cooks Illustrated recipe (if you happen to have a Cooks subscription or want to start a free trial).
Every time I look at the list of ingredients on a box of crackers from the store, I’m slightly more scandalized. What is all that stuff? It turns out crackers aren’t that hard to make at home. I opted for almond flour crackers due to one of our young guests having a wheat allergy. The Rosemary Fig Crackers (which I LOVED) and Sesame Crackers are both recipes from Elena’s Pantry. The trick to baking crackers at home is getting them rolled out thin and evenly, so take your time with that part! I often also have to remove the crackers on the outside of the sheet first, then put the rest back in the oven for a few more minutes to finish crisping.
Along with the wheat allergy, some people at our party follow a paleo diet, so I got adventurous with a batch of paleo-friendly coconut flour chocolate cupcakes (sweetened only with honey) with dairy-free chocolate frosting (recipes also from Elena’s Pantry). They were surprisingly good! The chocolate frosting was particularly rich and scrumptious, and it had a great texture. The cupcakes disappeared as fast as the strawberry cake.
And that food lineup got us through a couple hours of mid-afternoon party. Everyone managed to eat dinner afterwards, and no kids went to bed or woke up with a stomach ache or super crabbiness (at least, not more than normal). When it comes to kids’ parties, have healthy food options, and leave happier!