A room full of rowdy kids can feel a bit terrifying at the best of times, but if you're laying on a birthday feast for them, too, things can get really stressful. Fear not. With some planning, you can put on a homemade feast to keep the children happy for hours, from healthy smoothie jellies to fiendish monster cupcakes. After all, they'll need the energy for all the dancing and musical chairs.
If you’ve got a unicorn-obsessed child, check out our unicorn party ideas – top supplies to buy.
As popular as sausage rolls and sandwiches are, they don't have to steal all the limelight when it comes to your savoury spread. Couscous salads, falafel and chicken satay can all be popular choices with kids. Providing colourful and tasty dips with vegetable crudités is a great way of sneaking some veg into little partygoers.
Cutting sandwiches out with biscuit cutters to make them into fun shapes is bound to make them more attractive to younger kids. Slightly older children are sure to like digging into a three-tier club sandwich with a variety of fillings. If you want to keep things simple then the age-old remedy of removing the crusts never fails to help.
Top tip Keep the sweet treats safely out of sight until the savoury course has been eaten, otherwise you may find yourself with rather a lot of uneaten sandwiches on your hands and some very busy kids.
Low-sugar smoothie jellies with ice cream and frozen fruit sticks with passion fruit and lime drizzle are a nice way to balance out some of the more sugary treats. It can also be a good idea to serve slices of birthday cake with a side portion of fruit to lighten the sugar load. Little jam tarts and birthday biscuits look as pretty as they taste.
Plates of mini cupcakes are sure to be a hit, and are easy to distribute around the table and don't require any cutting. Bringing along a plain batch and letting kids ice and decorate their own is a brilliant party activity to keep them happy and busy for a little while.If you have leftovers you can always pop them into a party bag, but grownup helpers will probably give you a hand to polish them off.
- Campfire cupcakes
- Coconut & raspberry cupcakes
- Chocolate fudge cupcakes
- Little Louisa cupcakes
- All our cupcake recipes
Bring out the cake
Who doesn't love a themed birthday cake? But with shop-bought varieties or ordered cakes quickly racking up the pounds, it definitely pays to make your own. Plus it's great fun having such a creative project to work on and you can't beat the taste of a homemade cake. Our stunning, magical recipes are also much simpler to create than you think, so have faith and get stuck in!
- Pirate ship & treasure island cake
- Fire engine cake
- Surprise pinata cake
- Easy castle cake
- Mermaid cake
- Dinosaur cake
For younger children it's hard to resist our chocolate owl, teddy cake or birthday bug cake. If you really want to set hearts racing then give your cakes a liberal sprinkling of edible glitter, sprinkles or decorate with soft sweets or lollipops - just don't forget the candles.
Children love things with their name on and these edible name place biscuits are sure to have the wow-factor - use them to mark out seating or wrap them in some pretty cellophane and pop them in a party bag.
Playing 'pass the parcel' and running round in circles is thirsty work, so keep kids hydrated with some refreshing homemade drinks.
Slicing fruit into a cup with a little bit of juice and fizzy water is a fun way of serving up a soft punch, and great for getting a bit of fruit into kids. And it just wouldn't be a children's party without lashings of lemonade.
Getting kids to sit down with a cooling, healthy ice lolly can be a good way of bringing the party to a gentle close, and settling some of the excitement. Or fulfil all their childhood dreams with a naughty but nice knickerbocker glory, and you're bound to have them sat round the table in no time.
And finally, remember to enjoy it, a room full of excitable children may well be chaos but the party will be over before you know it so try and relax. A few bumps and spills are bound to happen so have some wipes and helpers on hand, and embrace the mayhem while it lasts.
Finally, if you've booked a venue but are still catering yourself then check out our blog on transporting food safely. If you need decoration inspiration, read our guide to throwing a themed unicorn party.
Are you a children's party veteran? Share your tips on what works... and what doesn't, below...