|How to do your own Party Food|
|Written by Jane Wilson|
One of the great joys of parenting is watching our children grow and the celebration of their birthdays is an integral part of this. It marks not only the passing of our children’s years but it also celebrates the anniversary of us becoming parents; of our lives changing forever with the birth of our offspring. Nevertheless, times are tough for many of us at the moment and it may not be possible to justify spending thousands of dirhams on a birthday party. It is still possible to mark the day and create memories to treasure without breaking the bank. One great way to save money is to cater the party food yourself.
Potential savings are huge and the ability to control the quality and quantity of the food you provide for guests both little and large may persuade you that this is the way to go.
The Golden Rules
Above all, children’s party food should be simple, colourful and fun. Finger foods are the easiest to prepare and eat and children are generally too excited to eat much so keep the quantities small and the portions ‘bite-sized’ so that the children can try a bit of everything. Put the food within easy reach throughout the party so that they can graze for the whole time; you’ll find that most of them eat more this way than having to sit down and concentrate on consuming a plateful. The fact is that the food is always less exciting for them than games, presents and birthday cake. Even if your child isn’t a fussy eater, you can guarantee that some of the guests will be, so make allowances for this and keep it simple and rely on some tried and tested ‘kid friendly’ staples. A combination of sweet and savoury items work best and your choices can include healthy options and some that are a little less so in honour of the occasion. Let your nutrition standards drop for once, your children will thank you.
Some Ideas for the Table
Sandwiches – Make a selection of fillings (cheese, ham, jam…), and use cookie cutters to add interest and appeal.
Fairy Bread – Spread jam onto good white bread then dip face down into some coloured sprinkles. Cut into triangles and watch them disappear!
Fruit Kebabs – Use wooden skewers with a selection of washed and cut fruit. Trim the ends of the skewers to blunt them.
Home-made Chicken Nuggets – Use chicken breast and breadcrumbs or cornflakes to make these healthy alternatives to the frozen version. Don’t forget the ketchup for dipping!
Pizza – It’s wise to serve only the plainest of pizza with definitely no green bits. You can make your own very easily but if the thought of making pizza dough is enough to send you over the edge, buy frozen ones and cook them on the day. It’s best not to serve them piping hot as melted cheese has a deserved reputation as being dangerous to little mouths. And keep the slices skinny; one pizza will go a long way.
Popcorn – Make your own or use the microwave version. It’s not recommended for very young children because of choking but from the age of 3 this should prove to be popular.
Vegetable Sticks and Dips – Carrots, cucumber and peppers all make great finger food and are a healthy party option when combined with a hummus or a cream cheese dip.
Jelly and Ice Cream – No party is complete without this for the little ones. Make individual jellies in cups for a special treat. No sugar jelly is available in the supermarkets now and you wouldn’t know the difference.
Drinks – Small boxes of juice are practical and less prone to spills but can be expensive. An alternative is juice mixed with soda water. The children will be very pleased to be drinking something fizzy but you won’t suffer the guilt of offering sugar laden lemonade or coke.
Additional Things to Remember
Prepare as much as you can in advance. Use your freezer and do any baking in the days running up to the party. You want to spend your time on the day having fun with the children.
Think carefully about where you set your table up; the children need to access it but it mustn’t be in the way of the games and the inevitable boisterous running around.
The children will need somewhere to sit and eat. A picnic blanket should be sufficient if you don’t have enough tables and chairs for the little ones.
Little fingers are likely to get very messy so provide lots of colourful napkins for cleaning hands.
Make sure that you have cloths on hand to mop up the inevitable drink spills.
Watch out for allergy sensitive ingredients. Nuts should always be avoided.
Some disposable tableware can be flimsy and not suitable for very young children. Paper cups can get soggy and the plastic ones can split when grasped in tiny fists. It might also be a good idea to take the time to mark each cup with the owner’s name to avoid spreading germs.
It’s fine to buy in some ready-made foods and may in fact be more economical than making your own. Supermarket fairy cakes for example are unbeatable. Things like ready cut fruit and washed vegetables should be avoided however; you’ll pay three times the price of preparing your own.
Whilst you don’t want to knowingly over-cater, you may find that your food is so popular that it’s all eaten or that you have some siblings arrive that you hadn’t accounted for, so keep some cupboard supplies that can be brought out if necessary. Crackers, cheese, crisps, extra fruit can refill the table very easily.
Don’t bring the cake out until the end of the party so that all the children have had a chance to eat some of the other food first.
And So to The Cake
One of the simple truths about children is that they aren’t as particular as we think they are about having ‘that’ cake on their birthday. They will be just as happy with a home-made (or shop bought or packet mix!) chocolate cake liberally spread with chocolate sauce and sprinkled with Smarties. You might however, decide that you want to splash out and spend some of the money that you’ve saved by self-catering the food, on a beautiful themed cake that will be the absolute centerpiece and focus of the party. Whether it’s Spiderman or Dora, cupcakes or cheesecake, you’ll find them all in Dubai. Browse through our Cakes section for inspiration. Decide on your budget and your theme and make sure that you order in good time. A month ahead is recommended and don’t forget the candles!
Above all you need to relax and enjoy the party, remember that nobody is judging your culinary expertise; it’s the children’s opinion that ultimately matters. Smiling children are the best indicator of a successful party, not how much has been spent or how many e-numbers have been consumed. You may not be Martha Stewart, but to your child, you’ll be the best Mummy in the world, at least for a day. Happy Catering and Happy Birthday!
Some Useful Links
|Last Updated on Thursday, 16 August 2012 13:25|