September 27, 2008,
T.S. asks from Beaumont, CA on September 25, 2008
Ideas for Kindergarten Birthday
I am looking for ideas for my daughter who just started kindergarten in August and she will be turning 5 on Oct. 3rd it is a school day and I would like to take something in for a little treat for the class. The teacher mentioned that we could do this but then said no cupcakes...only healthy snacks...and it has to be store bought with a lable on it...Urgh!!! what happened to homemade cupcakes? I tend to go way overboard when it comes to my kids birthdays but it is a very special time for them and I just love to see the excitement on their little faces...Any creative, fun, cute, good ideas PLEASE! I read somewhere where one mom actually brought brocoli as a "healthy treat" yes its healthy but come on now there is something seriously wrong with that! lol Also my daughters class has 20 kids and there are only a total of 4 girls (including my daughter) She really wanted to invite the 3 girls and a couple of the boys to her Birthday party and the teacher said I would have to either choose only to invite the girls..or I would have to invite the whole class...I just don't think it's fair...What are the chances the 3 girls will even show up they've known eachother a whole month now...I don't know...for a public school this one seems to have some weird rules!!!
L.H. answers from San Diego on September 26, 2008
My daughter's district has a similar policy. I sent in fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, and grapes in indiviual little cupcake holders. I also sent in a candle that fit in as well, so they could sing happy birthday. Her teacher just loved it. About the invitiations, I agree with the teacher. I AM a teacher, and it becomes such an issue about who got invited and who didn't. For my daughter, we invited the whole class (the party was held 3 weeks after school started) and about 10 showed up, which worked out well. I don't think you realize how much kids talk about this with each other, even in kindergarden. Hope that helps...
A.M. answers from Santa Barbara on September 26, 2008
I think i just saw in this months family fun a cute idea for spiffing up fruit. They made a cake out of fruit slices, watermelon on the bottom with different fruits stacked just like a wedding cake style. Then there were blueberries and raspberries tossed in the different layers. It looked so darn cute!
As for her party, you invite who she (you) want to invite. Period. You do not have to invite the whole class. The only rule I would follow is that if you only invite a few, you must not hand out invites at school.
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C.A. answers from Los Angeles on September 26, 2008
jello cups or pudding cups, (and you can bring in a can of whip cream for a little squirt) muffins--none of that yummy icing. Bags of chips. It needs to be easy for the teacher. they do not want to spend time cutting a cake-they want to hand the kids something and then out the door for recess. Last year I did sherbet cups, that requires getting to the classroom right before treat time. those 100 calorie packs are very popular for birthdays.
G.M. answers from Las Vegas on September 26, 2008
As the mom of a child with special food issues, I wanted to let you know how much it means to me when other parents take the time to bring treats to class that everyone can share in. Healthy doesn't necessarly mean green veggies, however you can still make veggies a fun snack. Use an egg slicer and split short celery stalks half way through. Repeat several times at different angles. Soak them in ice water and the split side will curl up. If you have no peanut allergies, fill the celery with peanut butter and for a special treat put a few mini chocolate chips on the top (ants). Some kids don't like raisins, everyone loves chocolate. The four or five mini chips you put on add nothing more than fun.
Fruit chunks with a yogurt dip are also a big hit. You can get the extra long toothpicks with the colored shredded cello wrap on the ends for a fun way to pick at the fruit. For a less messy snack, air popped popcorn is a big treat. It's also less expensive than about any other option. Get some colored cello wrap and make pretend popcorn balls. Just wrap a cup of popcorn into a ball shape and tie off with a ribbon or elastic.
Moms with kids like mine will thank you for not making it hard on them later when their kids come home after eating things they shouldn't.
As for the party invites, you've gotten lots of great advice already. Ditto on do what you want outside the confines of the classroom.
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J.S. answers from Los Angeles on September 25, 2008
I work at a school and we have a no homemade rule as well. This is due in part because some people just don't keep their kitchen cleans or follow proper hygeine while baking. The other aspect is allergy related. A store label will tell all ingredients and any potential risk for severe allergy children. As for healthy, we encourage that at our school as well. 20 kids hopped up on sugar while trying to teach is no picnic..
I would suggest the precut apples with carmel sauce (available in the produce section). It is healthy with a little sweetness. Tortilla chips and salsa is another tasty treat. You can even get the cups of sugar free jello or pudding in the deli section. Kids love gogurts and watermelon too.
The teacher has no say in who you invite over to your house and you can do as you choose. It's nice that she wants to spare the "feelings" of those children not invited but is completely unrealistic. Kids need to learn that life is about choices and they don't always get what they want.
Don't make the teacher responsible for passing out invitations. Get to the school early at drop off (or pick up time) and catch the parents of the children you want to invite and personnally devliver the invitations. Encourage your daughter to talk up the whole class school celebration and not the other party to avoid confusion. My kids have come home thinking they're invited to all kinds of parties just because a kid mentioned one.
It couldn't hurt to check with the office or principle to see the school's official policy. I've seen parents bring in bouncers, magicians, pizza and cake while they sit back and let us teachers do the all the work. Unfortunately, the parents that take advantage ruin it for other kids.
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M.B. answers from Los Angeles on September 26, 2008
I had a mom in our pre-school class who was overboard in this area and the whole class had to follow her rules. She dubbed graham crackers as cookies and we were stuck with nuts and twigs until she moved. For a special occassion, come on! What they are trying to address is childhood obesity, making healthy food choices, and allergy issues (thus the label). Try mini muffins instead of cupcakes (blueberry, carrot, or apple) and ask if you can bring in cream cheese frosting and let the kids frost their own. Good luck!
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C.C. answers from Los Angeles on September 26, 2008
Our state has passed a ordinance in education regarding treats in the classroom. Basically, because of epidemics of childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes they are trying to get a handle on the situation by controlling the school's involvement in food. The funny thing is if you see what the average child has packed in their lunch, or see what's served at the cafeteria, you wouldn't need to wonder why these epidemics seem to be occurring.
In my classroom I had parents bring in all kinds of great birthday novelties for the class. One parent brought boxes of flash cards for all the kids. Another brought a small gift bag for each child filled with school supplies (pencils, erasers, stickers, mini globes, rulers, etc.). And still another brought prepackaged apple slices and carrot sticks. I know that this isn't as fun as cake and ice cream, but kids still love it regardless.
Also, is there a reason you are just inviting children from the class? Does Madison have friends in her neighborhood, or from church, swim class, etc that could be invited? I can completely understand why the teacher is suggesting to invite the entire class or just the girls. It is absolutely devastating to the child that is NOT invited, and the teacher is often left to deal with the aftermath that the well meaning parent left behind.
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J.F. answers from Las Vegas on September 26, 2008
I wish I had seen the other responses before I initially wrote mine. Now, I feel I have to revise. As the mother of a 3 1/2 year-old beautiful boy with many food allergies, I was shocked by the lack of awareness by many of the other responses of how severe food allergies can be. The school is not trying to be overly controlling on this issue. Rather, they are putting the children's safety first! In many cases, severe food allergies can be a life-endagering event that no one should ever have to go through.
I am the Mom who has to alert my son's preschool teachers, coaches, team moms, and the other parents about my son's food allergies. PLEASE---OTHER MOMS--- realize that I don't do this to be controlling or to put a damper on anyone else's birthday celebration. I do it to protect my son! Since I cannot remain with him at school for every minute, it is my job as a responsible parent to let those who take care of my son in my absence know about his particular medical concerns. Any reasonable, responsible parent would do this.
You should ask your child's teacher for a list of children who have allergies that details what foods the children are allergic to. Wheat, soy, eggs, dairy (milk), and peanuts are some of the biggest culprits, and as someone else mentioned, some of the main ingredients in traditional birthday treats like cupcakes, etc. Some children are so severly allergic that they cannot even be around some of these things, especially peanuts. Keep in mind that this is something to be aware of whether it is a celebration at school or at your home or other venue. You wouldn't want your celebration ruined with an interruption by an ambulance or to put your guests in harms way, right?
I just hope this make some people a little bit more aware of what children with food allergies and their parents have to deal with every day in every situation.
After ruling out particular allergies to the following, you might want to get some pre-cut, pre-packaged fruit---apples, in particular come this way, and buy some waffle-cone bowls to serve in. You might even get some carmel dip to drizzle lightly over the apples.
I hope this helps and that your son has a wonderful birthday!
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K.M. answers from Los Angeles on September 26, 2008
You remind me of me. I go way overboard when it comes to parties and I drive my husband nuts. I own a small party planning business though it's more of a hobby until my kids are older. My daughter's preschool has the "no cupcake" rule however the reason is because the younger kids don't really eat them and it ends up being a big crumby mess. I agree the whole "has to be healthy" gets a little ridiculous these days. Yes, you shouldn't have too much of the sweet stuff, but in moderation should be ok especially if you're otherwise a healthy eater. Otherwise it becomes the forbidden fruit. And a birthday party is one of those times "in moderation" applies. I understand the "no homemade" rule because of the issue of allergies. So save the creative homemade stuff for the actual party. For school, what about cookies and milk so the kids can dip the cookies in the milk - they love to dip. You could get your creativity out by putting together cute goody bags that they can take home.
As far as etiquette on invitations... First of all, the teacher cannot dictate who you invite to your home. Perhaps she meant if your daughter was going to hand them out in class, it would need to be that way and understandably so. However, if you invite some kids (while not others) and it's done in a respectful way (privately outside of the classroom), then there is nothing wrong with that. And if some kids find out by way of hearing others talk about it, then it's true that life doesn't always go the way you want. Hopefully they have loving parents who will explain that not everyone can always be invited to something and it's usually only someone's closest friends. Their feelings can be validated that it's ok to be disappointed but it doesn't mean the "birthday person" doesn't like them. It just means they are not best friends. If there were only 10 kids in the class, it might be nice to include everyone, but nowadays people don't have the money to have a million people for a party and I would think others would understand. Anyway, that's my two cents coming from a party planner who deals with this issue all the time. And always do what's best for you and your family.
Did you already do invitations? I just did my own daughter's for her 5th birthday. I put her handprint (using a pretty color of paint) on cardstock and wrote "Sophie's turning..." and then put a 1 on her first finger, a 2 on her second finger, 3 on third, 4 on the pinky, and then a big fancy 5 on the palm of her hand that curls up to the thumb. If you want more ideas, let me know. I specialize in unique & whimsical "message in a bottle" type invitations. I love theme parties. Are you doing a theme for the home party? For my daughter, we are having an early evening "pretend" sleepover where kids (girls & boys) come in pajamas with a sleeping bag & pillow and we do all the fun slumber party stuff and then they go home at 8pm sent off with a new toothbrush, other prizes and a breakfast treat for the morning. The cake I'm doing is so adorable. Send me a PM if you want to talk more. I love sharing ideas. Best of luck, K.
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D.E. answers from San Diego on September 26, 2008
Well, now we live in an age of kids who are obese, have serious peanut allergies, or who need gluten-free diets, hence your public school's rules. My son's school requests healthy snacks too--but they do not have to be store-bought. I made yellow cupcakes from Jessica Seinfeld's "Deceptively Delicious" cookbook--full of pumpkin puree and almost no bad things. They were also the mini-muffin size. Each kid got one--the school swore that a mini-muffin would be fine--and you know, it was! The kids loved them. Since you have to have a labeled store-bought item, how about purchasing healthy muffins (bran, carrot, banana, etc.) from a Trader Joe's or another health-food store. They also sell the mini-muffin kind. Or you could get some whole-grain bagels from a bagel shop (just bring in the nutrition info card with you to the school) and give each kid half of a bagel--add a squirt of light cream cheese for a mouth, raisins or another dried fruit for eyes, stick on strips of dried apricot "hair" with another squirt of cream cheese--you get the idea. Or--for a Halloween school snack, once I took pre-sliced store-bought light cheese and used cookie cutters to cut out Halloween shapes, and served them on Halloween paper plates with low-fat whole-grain crackers, mini boxes of raisins, and store-bought sliced apples. Those were a big hit! This would work for you as your daughter has an October birthday. As far as who you get to invite to the party, I'm assuming you wanted to hand out invitations at school? In that case, I agree with the teacher. Kids get their feelings hurt easily--don't you remember the tragedy of not getting invited someplace as a kid? (Maybe you were always invited! In that case, let me tell you--not getting invited is not fun.) Besides, how would you feel if your kid was not invited to a classmate's party later that years when others were? I'd be sad--I think my kid's pretty great, and I would wonder why a mom would not want him at her kid's party (especially since your kids are so little--how can you turn away a small child? Who gets invited to little kids' parties is at the discretion of the parent, after all, and even if kids express a preference, their feelings are so fickle. My goddaughter turned seven over the summer, and my friend invited her whole Brownie troop from the year before--that's good manners.) Anyway--yeah, I think you either invite the whole class or else you send invitations to the kids' homes directly. My son's school has a no-invitation policy for that reason (which just means no invitations handed out at school). If money is a concern for you, which is why you don't want to invite the whole class--then perhaps try a party at a Pump It Up!, roller rink, Chuck E. Cheese, community swimming pool, Gymboree, zoo, etc. You get the idea--those places have pretty reasonable group prices that often include refreshments and entertainment--plus the added benefit of not having a bunch of parents and kids tromp through your own house--plus it's over in a nice, neat amount of time--PLUS the facility helps you conduct the party so YOU get to enjoy it, too!
Good luck! Happy birthday to your daughter!
:-) D. E.
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C.M. answers from Los Angeles on September 26, 2008
If her b-day party isn't at school than the teacher can't tell you who you can and can't invite--she can tell you what she thinks but not what you can do. Most schools now have a health and wellness policy in place, and this is good. If your child is in a public school kindergarden class that may have 30+ kids, imagine if everyone had their birthday treats at school. That is at least one party a week plus the ones they have for Halloween, December holidays, etc. Your kids end up eating junk all the time. Make their home b-day party a big deal. At school they are thrilled to be sung to, wear a crown, and maybe bring some cool stickers for the class. I like treats and let my kids eat plenty of them but our schools have become really unhealthy places and we need to address that.