Don’t despair: All you need are some great kid-friendly options to make up for all the juices and sweets, plus a few delicious treats for more sophisticated palates. The most practical way to think of a birthday party spread is with an epic snack — plus cake.
Consider these things first when planning your birthday party menu:
- The theme of the party and whether the food will play a role in said theme.
- Number of guests, their ages and dietary restrictions.
- How much prep and cooking are you prepared to do and what can be outsourced.
- Space (This may determine whether you have enough surface space for 15 cucumbers or five.)
You have safe options for picky eaters:
This is not the time to expand your youth’s interests or worry about your food choices as a parent. Just make sure you have options for picky eaters; Everything else will feel like extra credit.
- Plain chips, pretzels, or carrot sticks (a staple for a reason).
- Chicken thighs.
- Pizza cheese.
- Sausages or pigs in a blanket.
- Mac and cheese is uncomplicated.
- Burgers or sliders.
Once you’ve finished eating one or two “safe” foods, think about the following salty and sweet options that will go well with your cocktail plate and won’t be a mess to eat.
Delicious snacks for birthday parties
For older children and adults, consider these foods that can easily be placed on a plate and eaten with one hand: rainbow pizza, “snake sandwich,” chicken skewers, cheeseburgers in casserole form, chicken nugget strips, and cauliflower pizza bites. They’re all regular appetizers with a twist. You don’t want to make the menu so adventurous that you end up with more leftovers than you can eat.
Salads and fresh foods
Balance is key – fresh produce and salads will help offset some of the heavier options. If all you care about is presentation, creating a train of Crudités with bell peppers and halved cucumbers will leave a good impression. What’s so irresistible about single-serving snacks, like a caprese salad on skewers or a yogurt and berry parfait in a cup? Taco salad or pasta salad is a low-rising, no-fuss, crowd-pleasing salad that doesn’t need to be served warm.
Make your own paintings
Yes, anything can be charcuterie if you really think. You can make fun of us later, but it’s an easy and attractive way to present a meal. Choose a theme and lay out all the props on an oversized board or on the table itself—just line them with a clean tablecloth or butcher paper first—and let guests do it. Bonus points: It’s a conversation starter for parents who have to socialize with each other just because their kids are in the same second-grade class.
- Breakfast Council: Pancakes or pancakes are good crowd-pleasing bases. Add bacon, mini hash browns, some fruit, and yogurt cups.
- Baked potato bar: Keep extra potatoes warm in the oven if they don’t all fit on the plate.
- Taco plate: You can add soft and hard shells as well as tortilla chips as bases.
- Bread board: Make sure to pre-slice the bread to make it easier for guests.
- Slider plate: These mini burgers will allow you to put more things on the board.
- Dessert plate: There we said that.
No, we’re not talking about the cake or the cupcake tower. Trust us: This should be put off for pictures and the “Happy Birthday” song. But it’s a party, so don’t skimp on the sweets. Selecting a couple of options from a grocery store bakery is fine, but here are some cute birthday party dessert ideas you can add into the mix if you want to make something yourself.
- This rainbow sprinkle cheesecake is an alternative to festive sponge cake.
- S’mores bars are surprisingly easy to pull off.
- Prepare a large bowl of trail mix or “puppy food” (for people celebrating puppies) that guests can serve to themselves.
- If you want to show off your DIY skills, the Teddy Bear Race Cars will give you extra display points.
- A tray of earthen cups and layered mixed berry dessert cups will be a hit with chocolate and vanilla lovers.
- And every party needs a dip – why not make it a Funfetti party?
Placing an assortment of juice boxes, cans, and bottles in a cooler or large bowl next to the dining table is the most convenient thing you can do regarding drinks. Plus, you’ll have plenty of options for everyone at the party. Just don’t forget to include water bottles too.
However, if you have a punch bowl and a dream, don’t let us stop you. And if you don’t already have a signature recipe, try these refreshing, non-alcoholic recipes that are the perfect balance of tangy and sweet.
Another drink-related idea is to take all the juice boxes and make up the face of each one using some cardboard, glue, and sparkly eyes. Sharks are cute for an underwater party or minions if your child is huge Despicable me a fan. If crafts aren’t your forte, Etsy seller PinkPartyShop has plenty of options that you can print out on sticker paper and stick on different juice boxes.
Whatever you decide to do, don’t overcomplicate your birthday party menu or plan to do something that requires staying up all night before the party. As long as people have some snacks to eat throughout the event — and you have options for picky eaters — you’re golden. When in doubt, place the chips in a fancy bowl and you’ll actually be ahead of the game.