Pre-Kinder Garden to Age 8:
Keep it simple! Young children are often too excited to sit down at a party table – never minding to eat. Boxed lunches are an excellent way to coax kids into calming down and eating. Foster their curiosity by preparing fun foods in “Surprise Packages”. You can use plastic sandbox piles, dump trucks, doll beds, Frisbees, or even gift-wrapped boxes or tote bags. (Keep your party’s theme in mind!) Not only are these containers fun — they’re functional, and make great party favors, too. What’s more, you can personalize each with markers, glitter, confetti, ribbon, stickers, and other decorative items found in the crafts section at most party stores.
Line each container with colorful tissue paper and pack with food, snacks, and other yummy treats. What to serve? First – check with parents as to any particular dietary requirements. After that, rely on the usual standbys: PB&J, tuna, and bite-sized bologna sandwiches. Use a cookie cutter and get creative! Finger foods, cheese and animal crackers, together with fruit/vegetable slices and bread sticks will all be gobbled up. Add in a few party napkins, plastic utensils, a novelty toy or a personalized rubber stamp set, and you’re done.
9 to 12-Year-Olds:
Adolescents love the sit-down meals where they can really connect with their friends. Food? You needn’t fuss, too much, since they’ll practically inhale anything you put before them. To keep them content, have a highly graphic, printed menu at each place setting. Your local party store can design an inexpensive one for you in minutes. Or use some of your leftover invitation stationery and create another computer-generated masterpiece.
Again, carry your theme over to mealtime. For example: If you’re doing a TV theme party, your menu could read: “Ren & Stimpy Franks”, “Pete & Pete’s Pitas”, “Homer Simpson’s Pizza”, “Rug Rats’ Tacos”, “Whimpy Hamburgers”. Get the idea? More favorite foods include tuna, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets.
This age-group is very into sleepovers and some parents do “Breakfast” parties. In this case, cereals take a back seat to decorated pancakes and omelets. Try sprinkling French toast with powdered sugar that is applied through a novelty stencil. Or use a waffle iron and assist children in making their own Belgium Waffles. Outfit your “assembly line” with kid-friendly toppings such as strawberries, ice cream, chocolate syrup, walnuts, and dollops of whipped cream. Pure crowd pleasers!