Catering for Children at Parties
Choosing the food
Party food for children of any age should be colourful, fun and easy to eat, preferably with fingers.
Sweet or savoury?
Children are often drawn to sweet foods because they are more colourful, so make some novelty savoury foods to tempt them -the mini-kebabs or spiral sandwiches.
Avoid rich, creamy cakes and sticky icings at children’s parties. A simple sponge birthday cake with easy-to-roll fondant icing will be as effective and a lot less messy.
Avoid spicy foods, and strong tastes such as garlic. Most children prefer milder food.
Keep portions small enough for youngsters to manage. If very small children will be there, lay on some bite-sized foods.
Don’t forget the mothers
If mums are also invited, make sure there’s some adult food and drink for them too.
Party treats for children
Top a thin layer of bread or scone dough with slices of tomato, grated cheese, and a little diced bacon, ham or tuna. Bake on large trays and cut up into small squares when cooked.
Make a savoury cheese-flavoured biscuit dough and cut it into small animal shapes before baking. Most kitchen shops sell novelty biscuit cutters, including animal shapes.
Older children will enjoy tiny kebabs of ham, cheese, pineapple cubes and seedless grapes threaded onto cocktail sticks. Never serve cocktail sticks to small children.
Thaw out frozen shortcrust or puff pastry, cut it into strips, and wrap it in spirals around cocktail sausages. Bake in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes.
Make brown and white sandwiches with different fillings, cut into squares, and arrange on a serving plate to make a chequer-board. Or cut them into novelty shapes with biscuit cutters.
Cut bread into thin slices and spread with a variety of toppings. Roll up each slice like a small swiss roll and cut into rounds to give a spiral effect. Alternatively, cut a loaf of bread lengthways into slices, layer with different fillings and cut into fingers.
Decorating a children’s cake
Use coloured fondant icing to decorate a simple birthday cake for a child’s party. A clock face is a popular choice, with the hands pointing to four o’clock, for example, for a fourth birthday; or make a clown’s face with coconut for hair.
Simple dips of cream cheese, yoghurt or peanut butter are popular with children of all ages. If your children like them, add mild flavourings such as chopped chives or tomato sauce to the yoghurt or cream cheese. Serve with carrot, celery or other vegetable sticks for dipping. For a sweet dip, mix yoghurt and honey, and prepare pieces of fruit for dipping.
Make mini-sized burgers to serve in small party pittas. They’re much easier for small hands to grasp than full-sized buns.
Traffic light jellies
Set layers of red, orange and green jelly in tumblers, to make a traffic light pattern.
Melt 175g (6oz) chocolate and stir in 50-75g (2-3oz) breakfast cereal and a few pieces of dried chopped fruit. Spoon into paper cases and allow to set.
Serve colourful pure fruit juices topped up with fizzy mineral water, rather than sugary, artificial drinks. Add ice cubes with pieces of fruit frozen inside for fun.
For an individual touch, pipe children’s names onto savoury or sweet biscuits with cream cheese or icing.
Dip pieces of fruit into melted chocolate. Leave the stalk end uncoated for easy holding.