Star of the Party: The Food
The best part of a party is the food! Make it the focus of your child’s next birthday with these ideas.
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- Set up all the fixin’s for a delicious taco bar — hard and soft tacos, seasoned ground beef, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. Have bowls of guacamole, sour cream and salsa on the side. You can also set out tortilla chips for building your own nachos.
- Make tacos in a bag with individual snack-size bags of corn chips — open each one at the top and let guests add meat and their choice of toppings.
- Leave the cooking to an expert. Consider catering or reserving an event at Santo Cantina + Cocina, No Más! Cantina, Tin Lizzy’s, Tacos & Tequilas or Willy’s Mexicana Grill.
- Serve churros for dessert.
Ice Cream Freeze
- Set out a buffet with all the toppings — M&Ms, chocolate chips, sprinkles, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, bananas and cherries — for a make-your-own sundae. For quick servings, put ice cream in a muffin tin with cupcake liners and freeze, or buy individual chocolate and vanilla ice cream cups at the store.
- Let kids make their own ice cream using science! Find directions for how to make ice cream in a bag at foodnetwork.com.
- Rent a King of Pops cart or an Atlanta Ice Cream Truck visit, or cater your party with Ben & Jerry’s.
- Head to your local ice cream shop for a treat, or go fancy by booking an event with Sugar Factory, which has the King Kong Sundae with 20 scoops of ice cream and tons of toppings and serves 12.
- Order an ice cream cake or pie from Morelli’s Ice Cream.
- Serve hot dogs, burgers and fries. Have a variety of toppings for the dogs and burgers.
- Set up a make-your-own grilled cheese station with a variety of breads and cheeses. Ask an adult to help you man the panini or sandwich press.
- Create a make-your-own slider bar with mini slider rolls, beef, bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, cheeses and pickles.
- Instead of a cake, serve birthday cake milkshakes with pretty glass cups and brightly colored straws.
- Book The Varsity’s food truck.
- Have a make-your-own pizza party. For the “crust,” you can use Italian bread, bagels or store-bought dough. Set out sauce and toppings in bowls to let guests create their dream pizza. Before baking, place them on parchment-lined cookie sheets and use a pencil to write names by each pizza.
- Reserve a table at your favorite local pizza spot and order a variety of pizzas for kids to share.
- For the older kids or adults at your party, consider creating a pasta bar with marinara, meat sauce, Parmesan cheese, oregano and basil.
- Book an event with Strada Napoli Pizza, a mobile Italian wood-fired pizza oven cart for a delicious party, or book a birthday party at California Pizza Kitchen.
Over the Rainbow
- Keep it colorful and healthy with produce. Arrange fruits and veggies by color on trays, or create fruit and veggie skewers with every color of the rainbow. For dipping, set out bowls of hummus, ranch, nut butter and yogurt.
- Dip pretzels in different colored candy melts for a sweet snack.
- Arrange cupcakes or cake pops in the order of the rainbow.
- Order a rainbow layer cake.
At the Movies
- Create a buffet of popcorn, candy and snacks that you’d find at a theater for kids to munch on. Buy individual boxes of Milk Duds, M&Ms or Junior Mints.
- With your popcorn, mix in multicolored candy melts, cereal, cute sprinkles or colorful mini marshmallows. You can also offer cheddar- or caramel-flavored popcorn.
- Package snacks and drinks in boxes similar to movie theater trays for grab-and-go fun.
- Host a party with a theater rental at AMC to watch a movie on the big screen.
Time for Tea
- Make tea sandwiches with peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese, turkey and mayonnaise or flavored cream cheese. Trim off the crust and cut into triangles, or use cutters to make cute shapes. Shop amazon.com for tea party-themed cookie or sandwich cutters.
- Wrap it up! Serve ham and cheese pinwheels, chicken salad wraps or a cake roll.
- Consider serving fruity or herbal teas that are more suited to a child’s taste. You can also serve hot chocolate, iced tea or lemonade, as long as you’re using fancy cups!
- Stack muffins, pastries and scones on dessert towers. Serve mini cupcakes in teacups.
- Order a candy charcuterie kit or macaron box from Lolli & Pops.
- Reserve a High Tea party at Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party.
- Serve baked potatoes or grilled corn and have toppings set aside — cheese, sour cream, butter.
- Label Pigs in a Blanket as “Pigs in a Sleeping Bag” for a campfire twist.
- Pop popcorn over the fire and serve in cute bowls or bags for a fun snack.
- Have DIY s’mores ready to go by packaging graham crackers, marshmallows and a square of chocolate in individual bags. Or make s’mores easier by swapping out graham crackers for ice cream cones. Wrap cones in tinfoil before placing on the fire.
- Decorate cupcakes to look like a campfire. Find inspiration on Pinterest.
- Make or buy cupcakes and arrange them in the shape of your child’s age.
- Host a competition! Make mini cakes or cupcakes that each guest can decorate however they want. Have the adults at the party vote on a favorite, and give a small gift to the winner.
- Create cake kabobs by putting cubes of sheet cake on a skewer and layering with frosting, then drizzle with frosting or top with sprinkles.
- Purchase a cake pop kit for a combination activity and treat!
Hold a party at one of these spots for learning and celebrating at the same time.
Young Chefs Academy. These interactive parties feature making pizza dough from scratch, learning to make your own fettucine, decorating cupcakes or sipping on tea. Packages include place settings, party invitations, balloon decorations, drinks, chef aprons, paper chef hats and recipe cards, and you can add on optional extras.
Flour Power Cooking Studios. Party themes include hands-on fun with Cupcake Wars, Pizza Palooza, Star Wars, SuperHero and Princess, Iron Chef, Minecraft, Spa Parties, PJ Breakfast Party and more. Packages include cupcakes, an RSVP party webpage, a chef hat and lollipop for each guest and more.
Portrait on a Plate. Portrait on a Plate offers multiple parties, including Cook & Play with a cooking class; Cook & Paint with an edible arts and craft segment; and Cook & Photo with a cooking class and photo props. Check out their additional options for party keepsakes, themed classes and more.
The Cooking Schools. Reach out to The Cooking Schools to book a child’s cooking party. The price of the experience will take into account your child’s age and favorite foods.
Marcus JCC of Atlanta. The Cooking Birthday Party is available for ages 5 and older. Celebrate birthdays in the kitchen making and decorating treats, including cupcakes, cookies and more.
Chamberlain’s Chocolate Factory. Become a chocolatier and enjoy all things chocolate. You’ll get to taste three types of chocolate, and make a chocolate lollipop, a chocolate pizza, a chocolate shape, a dipped and sprinkled Oreo and a s’more.
Cozymeal. This online platform features top chefs who teach at their own venues or come to you, and you can find local cooking classes for kids. In the past, experiences have included sushi, pasta-making and more.
Tips and Tricks
Search for food-themed party invites on etsy.com.
Have food and drink options for parents if they are staying for the party.
Keep in mind the allergens of your kids’ friends and make sure to serve gluten-free and allergen-free options. Depending on your food preference, you can find lactose- or dairy-free ice cream, gluten-free buns and gluten-free cake at your local grocery store or bakery.
Miniature food is cuter! Consider purchasing mini burger buns, mini cakes or mini pizzas.
Keep décor simple. Party-goers are excited by the fun — they won’t pay much attention to your décor, so don’t spend too much time or money on these items.
Search Spotify or Apple Music for food-themed playlists. Or play the music a similar venue would play, like 1950’s rock-n-roll for a diner-themed party.
Send guests home with a themed party favor. Consider sets of aprons and chef hats or kid-friendly cooking utensils.
Let Them Have Cake
Leave the baking to the experts.