Children’s birthday parties are colourful and exciting, and food plays a big role in making the party a success. Here are our top tips to make your child’s birthday party a healthy, happy occasion!
When it’s a child’s birthday, we love pulling out all stops to make it memorable. It’s all about what they enjoy most, from the theme and the games to the food, of course! It’s easy to let celebrations become an excuse to binge on sugar and fat – but they don’t have to be! There are ways to make healthy food for kids that’s attractive, tasty, and good for them. So, when I was planning my nephew’s birthday party, I put my theories to the test, and put together a healthy party menu that was a huge hit!
Here’s some inspiration for all you party-planners:
Colour me happy
Complement the bright colours that kids love in the drinks you serve. Ditch the sugar-laden pre-mixed iced teas, colas and squashes – there are other ways to make fun drinks! It’s all a matter of how you present it to children. For our party, we set up a small juice bar, and let the children order their choice from a menu, which was created with a mix of fruits and veggies commonly liked by kids. There was the Cinderella (strawberry smoothie); Hakuna Matata (orange and sweet-lime juice); Snow-White (custard-apple smoothie) and even a Superman (watermelon juice)! We added a touch of honey when a little extra sweetness was required. Use small servings – 100ml to 150ml is sufficient for children, and they’ll have plenty of space for all the other goodies you’re serving.
Sneak in the good stuff
Colourful mini idlis using different blended vegetables – carrots, beetroot, spinach – and served them with a flaxseed chutney! Another great option is cheese and fruit skewers. We arranged green grapes on a toothpick to make ‘caterpillars – inspired by Pinterest. You can experiment with different fruits and paneer to see what else you can make.
Let the kids get creative with their food – set up a do-it-yourself table where they can assemble their meals. I set up a nacho table, which had baked tortilla chips along with an array of sauces and toppings for them to choose from. It’s a great way to let children pick from healthy options and encourages experimenting with textures and flavours. If this feels like it could get too messy, you can help with the assembly, while letting them choose. Serve small portions to avoid wastage. You can even try mini wraps (roti with rajma, homemade salsa and some vegetables), mini uttapams, or vegetable sticks with hummus and yoghurt dips.
A tip for successfully laying the table for children: use fruits and vegetables they like. Think of options like sweet corn, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, coloured bell peppers – ask your child for inputs, to get them more involved.
Cake can be healthy too!
No party is complete without some cake, but store-bought cakes are loaded with sugar, heavy cream and maida. We made a healthier (and tastier!) carrot-walnut cake. Instead of the maida use ragi, replace the sugar with melted jaggery and dates and add in cocoa, carrots and walnuts for extra flavour and goodness! If you don’t want to use eggs, you can use yoghurt in the batter instead. Here’s the recipe!
We all scream for ice cream!
Yes, even the ice cream we served was healthy! It’s an easy fix – freeze fruit juices on ice cream sticks, and you’ve got delicious, refreshing ice lollies for dessert! If you want a creamier option, you can try yoghurt lollies. Here’s the recipe!
And if your kid needs some chocolate, coat fruits like strawberries or bananas in chocolate and roll them in nuts. Here’s the recipe!
Go ahead, play with party snacks, experiment with colours – your kids will soon forget the regular menu of chips, samosas and fizzy drinks at celebrations!
Nikita Patel, Clinical Research Nutritionist, Cuddles Foundation.