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Party Food Pointers

Food for children’s parties can range from cake and ice cream to full meals. Full meals are extra work and usually aren’t necessary, but it’s nice to offer more than just sweets. Providing a variety of kid-friendly snacks throughout the party is a good compromise. Snack favorites include baby carrots with ranch dressing, cut fruit, crackers, chips, small pea­nut butter or cheese sandwiches, popcorn and cookies.

For slumber parties or campouts you’ll need to provide dinner, evening snacks and breakfast. Pizza or macaroni and cheese are easy dinner entrees and almost everyone likes pancakes or cereal for breakfast.

Party food should be ready to serve before the party. Sometimes it’s easier to buy prepared, take-out or delivered foods for a party. Make or order a reasonable amount of food and have extra snacks on hand — granola bars, tortilla chips, cheese sticks or other snacks. If you don’t need these foods for the party, you can put them in lunch boxes later in the week.

If parents are likely to stay for the party, you’ll need extra food. I don’t usually make special food for the grown-ups, but instead choose foods that are popular with both children and adults, such as cut fruit, vegetable sticks and dip, cheese cubes and pretzels.

If it’s convenient, within your budget, and fits in with the party plans, you may want to take the guests out to eat. Stopping for pizza or ice cream after a movie party can be fun.

Plan on two beverages per child and have extra on hand. If children are playing hard, they can consume a lot of beverages. Freeze brightly colored juices in ice cube trays and serve with clear soda for a fun and refreshing beverage. If you’re serving drinks in a cup instead of single-serve packages, write names on the cups so you don’t have to provide multiple cups per child.

Cake and ice cream are must-haves for children’s parties. Most bakeries provide a wide assortment of decorated cakes on relatively short notice. Leave a party napkin with the baker so she can match the cake colors and decorations to the napkin design.

Home-baked cupcakes are fun to make and easy to decorate with sprinkles and candy. As a bonus, serving cupcakes avoids messy cake cutting and the need to provide plates and forks. Serve up ice cream cones or provide an assortment of toppings for make-your-own sundaes.

Jamie Jarvis is the creator of www.KidsPartyFun.com

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