First Time Kid Party Hosting

Updated on February 28, 2009
M.J. asks from Langley, WA
21 answers

So my son is turning one years old already,and i'm officialy in my freshman year of kids party hosting. Although, he's merely experimenting with a few fruits and veggies inbetween the breastfeeding, there will be other children attending as old as 4 years old. There won't be a huge gathering,but i'd like to not get my guests kids strung out on sugar, but at the same time i don't want to necessarily deprive them of celebratory treats.

I was wondering what other parents who are raising their kids to be more food conscienscious and have since hosted and catered such get-to-gethers have done to not take the fun out of it all. What has been a hit with not only parents but especially the other kiddo's. Also, low maintenance and light on the dollar is a plus. we're working with a slim budget here.

I certainly am not looking to repeat my childhood diet,and the supposed American tradition prediabetes sugar bomb party atmosphere. In the same breathe i don't necessarily want to come off as some sorta health prude either. It's difficult when you haven't grown up with any example of this. your snack suggestions, and recipes are so welcomed.

Thank you so much

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answers from Seattle on

I won't reiterate all the good ideas that have already been offered, but I will add that for the variety of fruits I've done kabobs. I had some made up already and some extra skewers for the kids who wanted to make their own. They thought they were great - more fun than just fruit on a plate.

As far as prizes, I don't like to give out the cheap stuff that I wouldn't want my children to bring home. I feel like I'm wasting my money if I know that the favors will go in the garbage as soon as they get home. Some items I've liked are the mini play-doh containers (or I make my own and put it in decorated baggies), bubbles, stickers, and tattoos.

I don't really give candy at all. Have fun!



answers from Seattle on

Hi M.,
For all 3 of my kids, we have their birthday party at a nearby park. Because they're younger, nobody expects us to play games (the swings and toys keep the older kids entertained and the adults enjoy socializing). For food, I pick up a fruit tray, veggie tray, chips and dip and then cupcakes for everyone for "cake" time. For plates/silverware/drinks/cups/decorations I go to the dollar store. They have everything you need. Just remember to plan it around a time where it's not nap time! :)

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answers from Seattle on

Oh, so much fun!! Really!

First, I would find out if any of the other kids have any allergies or special feeding needs that you need to keep in mind. Other than that, I would be sure to have icecream and sorbet and be sure to offer fresh or dried fruits as well as cookies, candies and, of course, cake.

Other than that, have fun. It's your child's party. Do what you want for your son. And take lots and lots of pictures.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Hi there - Boy do I know about throwing a party and making sure there is enough variety for everyone. I absolutely get the urge to have healthy food, so here's what I do.
Go to the supermarket and get whatever fruit is on sale! Right now grapes are on sale at QFC and Safeway for 88 and 99 cents a pound. But, get whatever is cheap. Apples, melon, oranges, grapes...whatever. Cut all those up. Also, maybe some veggies....jicama, carrots, cucumbers, peas...whatever. Cut those up too!
Small, kid size sandwhiches. You can make ham and cheese (or turkey, or whatever you eat) and cut them into shapes using cookie cutters.
If you want snacky things you could do baked goldfish, ritz crackers, pretzels.
My children are 6 and 3 and while we often do full meals (carne asada, mexican rice, beans, achiote chicken, hot dogs, fruit and veggies) we often have parties for 50 or more people! Kids love fruit! Kids love cutsie patootsie cut out sandwhiches.
Have cake (maybe ice cream, although I never do that, too messy) for the singing and celebrating, and the kids will think it's perfect! You don't need a bunch of candy (although I always do a stuffed pinata, but that's my Mexican husband's fault! LOL), parents will appreciate you not sugaring their kids up, and the kids will be happy with cake.
Good Luck, have fun! L.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

A group of us with children meets often and we have vegan and gluten-free requirements so we tend to serve healthier snacks such as corn tortilla chips, hummus, guacamole, mild salsa and lots and lots of fruit (blueberries, melon and pineapple chunks, apples, grapes, etc.). You could also serve chicken nuggets or something like that (you can get kid-friendly nuggets at Costco). Someone served almond chunks held together by a bit of sugar also bought at Costco. In fact, Costco's probably the best place to get large quantities of food for the best price. And of course, cake is a nice treat! Have fun!



answers from Portland on

I am a health food freak but I do believe that there is a time and a place for everything. To me a birthday party which seldom comes along is a time for fun junk food! It is not a time to prove to the other parents what a health conscious parent you are. If they know you they will already know that. If you want something cheap get a coupon and order a couple of pizzas and bake your own cake. Maybe a carrot cake. It is VERY EASY to do and relativley cheap. Parents and kids like pizza...almost everyone does. The best part is that it involves very little effort. When you have a 1 year old that is nice.



answers from Seattle on

It all depends on what time the party is - will it be during a meal time or a "snack" time. Go for a snack time and you'll get off a bit easier on your wallet as people won't expect full meals. I would pick the time of day your child is the most rested and happiest. We've always done morning parties 10-12. So we do brunch type snacks.

For kids: LOTS of cut-up fruit, cheddar bunnies, small sandwiches cut out with a cookie cutter in a fun shape

for adults and kids too: I make a breakfast casserole, bagels and toppings, sometimes muffins

other snacky stuff - chips & salsa, cheese tray if it's not in the sun, pasta salad, etc.

birthday cake or cupcakes

I've been to parties with just a little bit of food or a lot - it's your choice!

For my son's first birthday we just had a bbq - since it was really more for the adults anyway!



answers from Portland on

We did this on his 3rd Birthday. Make cupcakes, get 2 or 3 bottles of sprinkles and the canned icing to write with and let them decorate their own. They all had a blast and the cakes are small. check out the dollar tree for Ingredients and stuff for goodie bags ie: funky drinking straws, bubbles etc. and the bags. A snack for the adults try little smokies wrapped in (generic)biscuits (1/4 biscuit per smokie) bake according to biscuit time with a dip. hope this helps. And have fun. Oh don't forget a BIG plastic tablecloth ;)



answers from Portland on

At my daughters first birthday we had a homemade regular chocolate cake with frosting, but for our "late lunch" meal we had crock pot BBQ chicken on whole grain rolls with several kinds of veggies, salad, Sun Chips, fruit salad and baked beans. So, we had a healthy dinner but still had the cake for a treat. I think it is a good way to help kids understand that there is a time and place for sugar treats (like cake at a b-day party) but that doesn't mean you get them all the time or that the rest of the meal has to be unhealthy too. Seriously, if a birthday party isn't the time and place for a piece of good sweet cake, what is? Besides, my daughter took one bite of the cake, made a face and just played with the rest of it.



answers from Seattle on

Keep it simple. Kids love cut up fruits and veggies. Apples, oranges, and bananas are always a hit with our family gatherings. I have cut them up into a salad before with a little bit of cool whip for "dressing", but I think that kids really prefer to pick them up and eat them on the go. Carrots and snap peas with ranch also usually go over pretty well with kids. Fishie crackers (I buy the Multigrain ones) and pretzels are also a good low budget snack favorite. For my kids' birthday parties I have been making cupcakes and putting frosting and sprinkles on top. This way they still get fun birthday cake, but with portion control. Good luck, and remember that really the kids just want to run around and play.



answers from Seattle on

I love the kids' parties! What you serve depends on time of day. Most of our parties have been during snack time so I serve a healthy snack - crackers, cheese, cut up fruit, grapes, yogurt or applesauce in the snack tubes, juice boxes, veggies and dip, etc. THEN they get cake and ice cream (or whatever we are serving). Most of the kids don't eat it all because they are full from the snack.

I'm sure you'll get a ton of great ideas for less sugary treats. I've made a fabulous apple spice cake from Joy of Cooking. Could also make banana muffins (or similar). Don't have time to brainstorm now, but good luck! You'll have fun.




answers from Seattle on

First birthdays are more for the parents than they are for the birthday baby. So, keep that in mind and the time of day when you're planning this event. Your friends probably have loads of kids, or at least one per couple/parent. Make cupcakes, carrot cake ones. A little healthier. And you can make mini cakes for little kids, keeping the portions small. Grazing will probably be the method of eating, so lots of vegie, fruits... make a melon ball salad... watermelon, canteloup, honeydew, grapes, bananas--use a melon baller, that's half the fun. Now you can serve that with soft ice cream or yougurt from Dairy Queen or your favority yougurt shop. You don't have to worry about games or a theme, this is more for you and your friends than the baby... you've survived the first year!!! So don't go all out and make treat bags for the smaller guests. Not necessary. You're having folks for a party. If you want to send people home with a reminder of the day, take pictures of them with the birthday boy and send it home in a folder frame. You can print the pictures off on your computer while they're all still there. If you want to entertain younger guests, plug in a dvd like Madagascar II and serve them fruits and vegies with the mini carrot cake cup cakes. A bigger, normal sized cupcake would be a good 'first birthday' cake for your little guy to get his hands on and eat. The obligatory first cake pictures can be taken then. Enjoy the day. It's about you and your baby. Not about how much money you can spend or what someone else did for their baby's first birthday.. it's about sharing this moment, this occasion with those who love you all. Congratulations!!!!



answers from Seattle on

Yogurt smoothie drinks (danimals are good) - you can punch a straw through the top, no mess...Noodles with cheese sprinkled on top (and broccoli mixed in) is also easy, and a pleaser...We did a first b-day based on the book if you give a pig a pancake - I made "menus" for the kids (also had some up to age 4) with pictures (circle, heart, mickey mouse for shapes of pancakes, then blueberries and chocolate chips and bananas for add-ins) they circled (or parents did) what kind of pancake they wanted, had in-laws cooking them for lunch, served with yogurt and fruit...easy!

For second b-day, I did finger sandwiches (soy nut butter and jelly, cream cheese and avocado, hummus, and sliced cheese)...cut into quarters or "sticks" also easy, serve with fruit, peas or edemame (a favorite of my sons), and youre done!



answers from Seattle on

I made banana bread for my daughter's first birthday. She loved it and since it's naturally sweet, the other kids and "traditional" adults didn't seem to mind either. My sister has a recipe for pumpkin spice muffins that I can get if you'd like. My take on it is that you should make what you would make for your son as the cake, and then have some finger foods that are a little more older kid/adult friendly such as goldfish crackers, fresh fruit, baby carrots, etc. Anybody who's critical will probably just keep it to themselves. You could also do cupcakes from scratch and put your sons in the pan before you add sugar? You can use fruit yogurt to frost them?



answers from Portland on

Amen to avoiding the sugar overload for kiddos! Believe me you are not alone. I had a small party for my daughter a while back. Because finances are also an issue, I had to keep it small, but I still like to provide nice snacks and foods. Sometimes I schedule the party for mid afternoon or mid morning so that I don't have to necessarily do a full meal. However, I don't want to give the kids lots of sugary stuff either. Some snack oriented menus included hummous and crackers, cheese and crackers, fancy shaped PB & J sandwiches (or other kinds), popcorn, fruit, veggies with dip, etc.

Another party we had I made a big kettle of soup and kept it in the crockpot to stay warm. I made snacks, salads, bread and small sandwiches, and baked mac n cheese so everyone could pretty much help themselves. The soup is great for the big people, but watch out for the little ones as they will need some supervision.

Hopefully by the time the kiddos get to dessert, they will be full enough that they won't want to overindulge.

Have a great party! Happy birthday to your little one!



answers from Portland on

My little guy just turned 1 in Jan, and we hosted a kid party with attendees both older and younger. Instead of cake and ice cream I made muffins with extra fruit, and had whipped cream available for "frosting" - parents choice. At a party for this age, the parents stay anyway. We offered some snacks, no chockables. Crackers, cheese, apple slices, that sort of thing-whatever we had around. We did some free play, played with bubbles, read a birthday story, had muffins, opened presents, and by then most were pretty worn out. Do not expect under 3s to participate in structured activity. You know your baby better than anyone else, so you know what to do, and what will work best for him. Have fun! There is plenty of time for games and ice cream in the years to come! Oh, we did our big cake and ice cream with family dinner. The kid party was a seperate event. Some thought I was crazy for doing two to celebrate 1, but I'm glad I broke it up. Good Luck and Congratulations!



answers from Seattle on

Ditto on the fruit!!

And I co-opting that cutsie-patoosie sandwich thing. That's a great idea. Our friends are pretty much an even mix of vegitarian, kosher, and more carnivore then that'll be easy to have three different plates with little signs above each! Huzzah. Love new ideas.

The big hits when we have kids over have been :
- Quesadillas (with or without chicken, & w or w/out bbq sauce),
- mini grilled cheese...the adults steal these like we've learned to make extra with pepperjack and stick them up in grownup land (we have a panini grill, so it's super easy to make a ton),
- Pizza . For older kids you can even have them make their own pizza.
- Baked tater-tots are a great sidedish that nearly everyone under 10 (and over 20) goes for. Can't speak for the middle range yet.

Having a special Adult Snack Plate in grownup land, is a wonderful thing. No parent wants to be stealing food from the kids...but at the same time, most of us get peckish.

Word to the wise: Take'n'toss lidded straw cups. With each child's name written on them in sharpie, and a few extras for the inevitable losing/breaking/xtra siblings.

I also second, third, & fourth having a traditional bday cake or cupcakes. Cupcakes can be fun, because you can put a candle in each everyone gets to blow them out! You could also do yogurt parfaits (think starbucks, how they do them), but somehow it doesn't seem quite as fun.

My favorite parties that we've gone to have come with an itinerary & menu + the invitation to bring whatever your child likes to eat or give a call so that they can have "matching but edible-for-them" food. That way, I know ahead of time if my child will be fed real food, approximately when, & what. The BYOF in addition to what we'll already have out or CALL means you won't be stressing about making sure "everyone" likes and can eat "x".

I don't know where you're having your party, and if it's in your house this is PROBABLY NOT something you would want to do....but something we did last year that seemed to work pretty well was to have the party in reverse. Summer b-day, and our first with a yard. The party started at 1:00. We had the cake first, let the kids run it off for the next hour+, swooped in with pizza as soon as eyes started to glaze, did the pinata & sent them home with full bellies @ about 3:00. In the pinata we had a gazillion bouncy balls, glow in the dark necklaces/bracelets (like you get at Halloween or carnivals), & plastic pirate gold dubloons. No candy in sight...but a lot of happy kids.



answers from Seattle on


We've hosted several parties for our daughter who is now almost 4. Here are some kid friendly food that we used with success.

veggies and dip (we used ranch dip and apple sauce :-)) and had cut up fruit and veggies (peppers, grapes, strawberries, carrots, celery, , cherry tomatoes apples (with a bit of lime juice)
We also have used pita chips, tortilla chips and I've made my own guacamole which is so healthy and usually a huge hit (you can find good recipes all over the net)

I've also put some hot food out from time to time (made cheese quesidillas and cut int little pieces or chicken nuggets (I like the ones from trader joes best) and also fresh cheese tortellini is usually a huge hit with the kids.

Cheese and crackers usually goes over quite well.

For desserts we either do a carrot cake (with no nuts) or cupcakes for the kids which seems a bit easier for them to manage.

Hope this helps!




answers from Portland on

For my daughter's 1st birthday party we made little sandwitches (big sandwitch cut into 4), had several different veggies with a couple dips, a few fruit slices to choose from for the kiddos. We had pretzles and tortillas with hummus and guac and a couple different salamis and cheeses for older party goers. We had little juice boxes for the kiddos to drink. We had cake too, but there are a ot of recipes online that use less to no sugar and butter. Keep it simple. The party won't be too long and all you really need is a few snacks. You want to be able to enjoy yourself and not stress yourself out over the food. Have fun!!



answers from Seattle on

String Cheese, apple slices(dip them in orange juice to keep them from turning brown), carrots, Gogurt (or other yogurt sticks...I put them in the freezer and they are like popsicles, and make less of a mess...good substitute for icecream) I like to do Chicken Dinos...I've seen them made with whole grain can get them in bulk at Costco.

I have made cupcakes for each of my kid's per kid is plenty...your 1-year-old will mostly poke at the frosting and dismantle it more than eating it...this was my son's first blast of sugar, and we lived through it:-)

My cousin made sugar cookies with wheat flour and had the kids and parents decorate their was fun, but her daughter was turning 5. My 4 and 2 year olds mostly wanted to eat the cookies rather than decorate them.

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