Birthday Parties for Kids

Celebrate their special day with favorite foods and friends

Sandra Lee's Tie-Dyed Cupcakes

One of the many joys of parenthood is throwing the annual birthday party — and you can multiply that by how many kids you have. Although party themes change from year to year, the basic framework for a successful get-together stays the same.

Tips for a successful party:

Serve Familiar Foods. Keep the meal simple and recognizable — this is not the time to introduce new food items — chicken fingers, tacos or pizza are just fine.

Make It Finger-Friendly. Finger food is a great way to go; you don't need accidents with silverware. Make interesting shapes out of sandwiches or cookies by using cookie cutters.

Stay with a Theme. If your party has a specific theme, work that theme into the food, whether with creative naming (for a prehistoric-themed party, deviled eggs become dinosaur eggs), edible centerpieces (a gelatin-filled "fishbowl" for an aquatic party) or specially-shaped cakes (a basketball for a sports party).

Let the Food Be Part of the Party. Get the kids involved in making their own food: miniature pizzas on English muffins, decorate-your-own cupcakes or an ice cream sundae bar are all easy ways to make the meal more fun.

Make It Fun. Kids love to play with their food. An assortment of dips (for, say, chicken fingers, raw vegetables or sliced fruit) makes even the simplest dish interactive.

Keep It Safe. Find out about food restrictions and allergies beforehand, if possible. If not, it's always best to avoid common allergens like nuts or seafood.

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