Party planning 4.0

There is a major event in our lives in a fortnight’s time and I need your help. The Small Girl is turning four (four! how did that happen?) and The Party is the subject of much discussion.

Previously, we’ve used her birthday as an excuse to entertain our friends – and in some cases, their children. This time it’s all about her friends – and their parents, some of whom are unknown quantities. Needless to say, I am nervous.

In part, this is for the obvious reason that inviting a dozen small children to rampage through the house on a Saturday morning is hardly conducive to a relaxing time of it. We’ve been to so many parties recently – most involving bouncy castles and pirates and pass-the-parcel where every child gets a fancy gift – that I feel expectations are getting higher by the minute.

Then there’s the food. Some people have separate food for the children and adults, some have a free-for-all. There is always a cake of extreme proportions – sometimes outsourced, sometimes lovingly created (and probably sworn over) by the adoring parents.

We seem to have settled on the cake – but then the other requests are coming thick and fast. She pores over the picture of the ‘Welcome Table’ groaning with a clove-studded ham, star biscuits and various other delights in Nigella Christmas and says, ‘can we have that when it’s my birthday please?’ Don’t even start me on the supermarket, where her eyes light up as we march at speed through aisles of rubbish. “We could have those biscuits/marshmallows/fizzy drinks at my party, couldn’t we?”

While there will be no bouncy castle at our party, nor any vile Cheerios (honestly, I can’t believe people still feed those to their children!), we are going to have fun things to eat. The question is, what?

What would you feed a dozen children and probably at least as many adults on a Saturday morning? And do you have a great cake/cupcake recipe that can be made a couple of days in advance?



  1. May 12, 2013 / 9:19 pm

    When my boys were little, I found that they weren't really interested in the food at the party, sandwiches and clever little bite sized savouries where spurned and a few crisps and sweets seemed all they really wanted. The cake was all about look, they didn't eat much of that either. These Vanilla Cupcakes kept well, you have to leave the mixture overnight before you even bake it, but it makes a nice cake, firm enough for filling and frosting.

    • May 13, 2013 / 7:52 am

      Thanks Janice – I have long been of the mind that the more 'fun' the party (for adults or children), the less people eat – unless, of course, they are around at cocktail hour and then start looking around for dinner!
      Those cupcakes look brilliant, definitely going to give them a trial run. In the interests of research, of course…

  2. May 12, 2013 / 11:49 pm

    As a connoisseur of vile cherrios, I'm not sure what else I could add. Mini anything tend to be good. I guess I'd present things that were good finger food and picnic food. I prefer savouries and as at most parties, I'm sure you'll have no trouble thinking up sweets. Mini quiche can be made well ahead of time and served hot or cold, meatballs with chutney, cheese scones can be cut to bite size.

    • May 13, 2013 / 7:55 am

      Thanks Genie – I agree that savoury things are important at parties. At one party we went to recently there were the most amazing pot sticker dumplings (I watched proudly as my daughter gobbled them up first, instead of the fairy bread etc). I'll leave the cheerios to you…

  3. May 13, 2013 / 12:37 am

    I wonder whether you should let your soon to be 4 daughter make the decisions for herself. Tell her she can choose X items to have at her party and then serve those. The parents might raise their eyes but I'm sure the kids will have a ball. She says confidently with zero experience of hosting own parties for children (although I did host about 200 as an entertainments officer in a leisure centre when it seemed sausage, beans and chips could rarely be beaten as the food of choice).

    • May 13, 2013 / 7:55 am

      Entertainments officer? Would you like to revisit your former employment, just for one morning? Go on, you know you want to…

  4. May 13, 2013 / 12:59 am

    Fairy bread and sausage rolls are my standby kids birthday food – if you have cookie cutters you could cut shapes with watermelon or other fruit – kids love any shapes and I love having, fruit on sticks or anything on sticks is fun – I collect my ideas on my pinterest novelty food board and I found that the animal cupcakes I did for sylvia's birthday this year were really easy and the kids loved them. Lastly we planned all sort of activities at sylvia's party and she just made her own fun – though I also liked a friend's party where they just bought stuff for pass the parcel at an op shop. Good luck lucy

    • May 13, 2013 / 7:57 am

      I have been reading lots of your birthday party posts for inspiration, love the idea of your Pinterest board! I've seen some great butterfly cupcakes involving pretzels and marshmallows (two things very popular in our house). Do you have real sausage rolls, or vegan ones?

  5. May 13, 2013 / 5:34 am

    Well…. where do I start?! You know this is my favourite topic! My favourite/standard go-to recipe for parties that you can freeze for weeks before hand is mini quiches.
    I find it much easier to have things that don't require a lot of effort on the day of the party – if anything can't be prepared in the days before hand then i always ask someone else to bring that, ie sandwiches, fairy bread, etc. It doesn't have to be a stress – truly! My only advice is that it's all about presentation! A fruit platter in a fun shape or served on a stick or in cupcake holders is more likely to get eaten. Any food that you prepare is going to be gorgeous!! Can't wait to see the pics!!

    • May 13, 2013 / 7:59 am

      You are my party guru, so I will follow every instruction to the letter! We have a tiny freezer so that makes life a bit more difficult – but I do like the idea of a bring a plate party!

  6. May 13, 2013 / 9:34 am

    Going to add to the "fruit on a stick" team, and you get bonus points if it's rainbow coloured. Kids loved these at Milla's party.
    The food of choice for her 4th birthday was a plate of smoked salmon and cream cheese pinwheels (made with crepes), sausage rolls (made in advance) and plain ol' marshmallows.
    Can't wait to see your cake! 🙂

    • May 16, 2013 / 7:04 pm

      Smoked salmon? Now you're talking! That's already on the menu, and so are marshmallows. I love the idea of crepe pinwheels but I will not allow myself to make them (visions of being up at 5am with crepe batter and tears). Emma of Frog, Goose and Bear had a very pretty rainbow of fruit at one of her amazing parties and I think that will be the go, along with sticks.

  7. May 13, 2013 / 2:35 pm

    Jelly in orange quarters? Really yummy and healthy (if you use the juice you've squeezed out) and kids will never guess! Pizza slices are less time consuming than sarnies, and more likely to be eaten….

    • May 16, 2013 / 7:01 pm

      I always wanted those jelly boats when I was a kid and we never had them (sob!) I'm not sure I have the dexterity, but I can definitely do pizza…

    • May 16, 2013 / 7:00 pm

      That is a very classy marble cake… I wonder if I could sculpt it into a castle as per my orders?

  8. May 21, 2013 / 6:27 pm

    When is your little girl's party? I agree with people who vote for separate food for adults and children. I mean it's odd to have 4-5 year-old to have the same taste in foodie with us. So I go for setting two tables: one with nuggets and spaghetti and the other is for Bruschetta and Smoked Salmon Board.

    Lawrie Brinkerhoff

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *