Party food can range from the standard fare of cake and ice cream to finger foods
to a meal. Planning when your party is helps to select the kinds of food needed.
If you select an afternoon party you can probably get away with just cake and ice
cream and possibly a few snack items. If you plan a party for around meal times,
be sure to include whether or not you will be serving food. Most people will tend
to assume you are serving a meal if it falls around a specific meal time.
Check with guests for any food allergies when sending out invitations. Most people
when they or their children have severe allergies will usually ask about the menu
or will decline for that reason. However, don’t count on everyone remembering to
tell you. I have had kids tell me while I am serving something that they can’t eat
that (or just don’t want eat it) so I am scrambling to find other means in which
to feed them. Always have some kind of alternative plan or items on hand for that.
Avoid certain foods, like nuts, if you are not sure.
Also, when inviting guests keep in mind the number of people you will be inviting.
Try to plan your food supplies to accommodate that many people. Pay close attention
to servings per container and serving sizes. Remember to open only what you need
at the party so you can have the option of returning unused, unopened portions of
food or supplies.
Many bakeries will give you a rough estimate of how much cake it will serve. But
in my experiences, those pieces of cake tend to be HUGE. So consider the age of
guests also. If you have ten kids coming consider the size pieces you would make
for a three year old vs a fifteen year old.
For the finicky eaters or looking for new and different outside the birthday box
ideas, try some of these:
Ice Cream Sundaes
Decorate your own cookies
Brownie or cookie sundaes
A fruit pie with ice cream
A Fruit Pizza
Themed parties and food:
If your party has a theme consider the kinds of food, snack or meal, that you would
serve with that theme. A cowboy party you might consider chili or chili dogs. In
keeping with the theme, you might consider cowboy-ish names for the chili... Like
“Round ' em up Chili”, “Wild Philly Chili”, etc. This is a good time to be creative.
Finger Foods and Snacks:
Finger foods and snacks can be basically anything that you have time for. Don’t
feel like you have to be Martha Steward and have cutesy items unless you have the
time and inclination to do those things. The kids are truly mostly just happy with
food. If you like doing fun food, have at it. There are lots of clever recipes
to have fun with. You decide, it’s your party. Don’t feel pressure to keep up with
the neighbors, throw a fun party. The food is just an extra.
Keep in mind the age of your guests. If you have guest younger than 3 be sure to
select foods that are age-appropriate. Choking hazards would be a problem for this
age group. Some people don’t like to feed hot dogs to kids under a certain age even
when that are cut up, so keep the menu with the guests in mind.
Popcorn (not for the preschool set)
Fruit (grapes, raisins, dried fruits make good party fruit)
Cheese and crackers
See Links below for Party Food recipes
Dinner or Lunch Ideas:
Any of the following can be made or brought in from local restaurants. If you are
looking for time savers, pick something that can be frozen or bring it in. If you
are looking for cost savers, make it yourself.
Please check out Party Planning Checklist for timing of food purchases. For the
non perishable items, you can start a few weeks ahead of the party to begin your
preparations. Some people like to spread out the overall cost and buy a little at
a time. Other people prefer to purchase their items all in one trip. Personal choice,
you decide. However, don’t wait until the day before, if you can help it, so make
sure you have all the necessary items and not have to rush out just before the party.