When guests arrive at a birthday party, they expect at least some food. A cake is the bare minimum, but most parties include snacks or a full meal. Consider different factors when planning the menu for the next child’s birthday party you throw.
Time of Day
The timing of the party is one of the major deciding factors in what to serve. If you schedule the party during a meal time, you should offer the guests a meal. They will likely expect it and probably won’t eat ahead of time.
If you prefer not to serve a meal, schedule the party either before or after normal meal times. This allows you to scale back what you offer to a few snacks and cake.
If you aren’t having the party at home, you will likely face some restrictions on party food options. Most birthday party venues require you to purchase food from them. Most have a “no outside food” policy with the exception of a cake. If the venue doesn’t provide any catering services, they might require you to use a professional caterer rather than making food yourself. Make sure you find out the options for food before booking a party venue, especially if you want to do the food yourself.
Sometimes the party theme dictates the type of food you serve. If you have a Mexican fiesta theme, Mexican food is a natural choice. For a luau, you might serve tropical foods. At a carnival-themed party, hot dogs and similar carnival food items make sense.
Don’t forget to ask the birthday child what he wants to eat. After all, it’s his celebration so you want him to eat the food. You are likely well aware of the foods your child does and does not like. Take those into consideration when you plan the menu. If he is very picky, try one option for most people with a few sides that you know he would eat.
You can’t cater to every guest’s personal food preferences, but if you know someone has a severe food allergy, do your best to avoid those trigger foods. If you know that a guest has a restriction, try to offer some alternatives that he can eat. Most people with allergies are careful and know what to look for. But avoiding common allergy-inducing foods, such as peanut butter, is a safe decision.
When you’re serving food to kids, choking is a consideration. This is especially true for toddlers and young children. Avoid foods known as choking hazards, such as small, hard objects, things that are very chewy, or small round foods like whole grapes. Popcorn is also a choking hazard for young kids.
The logistics of cooking or serving certain foods can also play a role in the decision. If you host the party at a park with no electrical outlets, you’ll need food that doesn’t need to be heated, for example. Choose foods that you can prepare ahead of time so you aren’t stuck in the kitchen during the party. Or assign someone else the task of cooking so you can play party host.