If you have children then you'll know that once a year you'll likely be organsing a party of some description for your child. If you have multiple children, then you'll be in the party planning (and spending) mode a few times a year. Birthday parties, whilst they can be a lot of fun, can also become one of those events where costs can spiral out of control. Here's a few tips for party food that doesn't have to cost a fortune.
You'll likely save the most money if you just do the food yourself. If you're having a party at a venue, the typical cost of catering for a child is around $7 -$10 per child, and in most cases, you can cater yourself for a lot less. Aim to find a venue where you can provide your own catering, or have the event at home or at a park where you can definitely bring your own supplies. If you are catering yourself, remember that when it comes to drinks, water is more than sufficient and you don't need to supply expensive sugary drinks. Add in a funky straw, or some natural colouring and kids will be very happy with just a party cup of H2O.
Make your own, save $$$ Image: Stuart Miles, Freedigitalphotos.net
The same applies for a cake; to have a cake made for you can cost upwards of $120, whereas a home made cake can cost as little as $15. If you are a strict non baker, then a shop bought cake is also a more budget friendly option with supermarkets and local bakeries stocking a great range of cakes at around the $20 -$30 mark. Cupcakes also make a great option and can be transformed into great displays that would make any child's day.
If you are doing a buffet for children, a key thing to remember is that they typically don't eat very much as there is so much else going on around them. Instead of over catering (and over spending), it's good to consider some easy to snack on items that kids can gobble up quickly so that they can get back to the serious business of partying. Here are some wallet friendly options, that are great for kids parties, and are easy to do too:
Image: Fir0002, Wikipedia
Bowls of popcorn - A bag of popping corn is under $1.40 at my local supermarket and will make more than enough popcorn to feed the crowds at your party. You can colour your popcorn easily to match the theme, by using natural food colourings or by coating in coloured sugar or coconut for a sweet fix. This is one of the cheapest party snacks going and kids seem to enjoy it too. Make a few bowls worth of popcorn and spread them around the table. If you're doing a rainbow (or colourfully) themed party, consider using a few colours on the popcorn to really enhance your theme.
Fairy bread - Kids seem to love this stuff and it's a great visual at parties. Just bread, butter and a tonne of hundreds and thousands. If you're trying to avoid artificial colours, then look out for Hoppers Natural sprinkles which are all coloured naturally. You can make a few platters of fairy bread for roughly $3.
Fairy Bread Image: Soerfm, Wikipedia
Go seasonal. Have a look at what fresh produce is available and feature some of this in the party feast. Fresh fruit and vegetables are a great treat when served with dips (sweet or savoury).
A really great (and cheap) idea for when strawberries are in season is strawberry and marshmallow kebabs. Just thread alternate strawberries and marshmallows onto straws and you have a really fun snack for kids.
Sugar Cookies. These butter rich cookies, are super easy to bake and can be rolled and cut into a shape that matches the theme of your party; just grab a cookie cutter to match. There's a great recipe here that uses ingredients that you'll find easily in your pantry, and the best bit is that this recipe yields over 5 dozen! That's a lot of cookies. Ice them with royal icing, and you can scatter platters of colourful cookies around for great effect.
Home Made Pizzas. You can bake your own pizza really cheaply and either serve as cut out slices, or use a cookie cutter to cut shapes out and serve as a great savoury party snack. This recipe here uses only flour and yogurt to make a super quick pizza dough, perfect for an easy party pizza.
Image: Cyclone Bill, Wikimedia Commons
If you're worried that a party buffet might end up costing a great deal of money, and result in a lot of wasted foods then an alternative option, is to pack each child their own 'party bag' with possible inclusions being a sandwich, a packet of crisps or crackers, popcorn, fruit and a cupcake or muffin. You can make your own party food bag using a coloured paper bag (in the theme of your party), or even using a lolly bag. This type of party packed lunch will cost you about $3 per child, so definitely saves on the cost of a catered event.
When my son saw Fairy Bread for the first time he was nearly three ' he inquired about the coloured Sesame Seed Sandwiches . I wished ! ' I got my two involved in creating our party treats such as muesli balls adding lots of coconut We blinded together with rice malt and put them into party pans and froze them When we removed them from party pans I called them moon rocks I tried to a party theme This one was for our ' outer space ' theme .Involving them with healthy options and creating table decorations seemed to be successful and loads of fun for all . Lee