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Birthday Cakes, Cookies and Food
Party Food ideas for your Child's Birthday Party
Refreshments are a key party ingredient. My childhood memories of birthday's have always included a cake. The cakes were two types: Either a two or three layer round cake or a one to two layer sheet cake. They always were topped with the three following things: decorative icing shapes of flowers, the words "Happy Birthday", and candles. Such cakes are still eloquent and memorable. However, now it's possible to provide cakes in various shapes and characters. Cakes can be more reflective of the party theme.
*** Birthday Party Cake ***
Grocery Store Bakery cakes can be easier. They are one less thing that you have to do yourself. You don't have to worry about having enough time to bake and decorate. You are spared the worrying of an unevenly risen or burnt cake. Unfortunately, their ingredient list tends to include High Fructose Corn Syrup and other non-nutritional items. However, for your children's birthday party, they do tend to have a nice selection of the most popular themes & characters that are sure to be a delight for a child's birthday party. One year I took a short-cut by ordering a cake with only a decorative underwater scene and the writing part, and then I decorated it with a tiny snow globe and other miniature themed toys. My daughter viewed her cake as a present and marveled at being able to play with real toys from her cake!
Whenever feasible, I try to be more conscientious about serving home-baked cakes to have a healthier, nutritional menu. I purchase USDA Organic boxed cake mixes and Icing mixes (www.oetker.com). I only need to add organic butter, organic milk, and vegetable oil. I can even decorate cakes with Organic Sprinkles (www.edwardandsons.com). I have used cake pan molds for a themed item. I prefer layered round cakes with decorative miniature toys. If I bake a chocolate cake with chocolate icing, then I also bake vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing. I also do the reverse. If I bake a vanilla cake with vanilla icing, then I also bake chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing. This usually satisfies everyone's taste buds! Cupcake paper Baking Cups may be found in many colors with or without additional decorations.
Cakes bought at some privately owned bakeries actually purchase the same "box recipes" or "frozen pre-baked cakes" as leading Grocery Store Bakeries". They merely ice and decorate them. You might want to ask them before paying the higher price for a supposedly "fresh-baked cake". However, they can sometimes make a more personalized cake.
Whether purchasing a birthday cake from a chain grocery store bakery or a privately owned bakery, ordering times may vary. It may be possible the day of the party to go into a store and have a cake on the shelf decorated with your child's name. However, the decorations or theme you are looking for may not be immediately available on a ready made cake. There may not even be a cake decorator present in the store when you go to pick up the cake. If you have waited to the last minute, then you many need to purchase a can or tube of Decorator Icing to write your child's name. Bakeries usually require 3 days notice for a made-to-order cake. However, bakeries making specialty cakes may need more than 2 weeks notice.
Don't forget about leaving room on your cake for the candles. Traditional candles are available in 2 1/2 inch long peppermint striped twisted colors with white spirals as well as plain colors. Now they are available in confetti, glitter, and neon. If your child is old enough to take a joke, then try "Magic" Relighting birthday candles. Don't forget to have a cup of water nearby to put out the burning candles or your icing will be covered in wax. Try a new different look with color flame candles. There are even candles with "Happy Birthday" written on them. My daughter's favorites are the Musical candles with an ON/OFF switch and the Numbered candles with sparkles or colored dots. Party themed candles can make a great decorative idea as well as a souvenir.
Occasionally, a Birthday child does not like cake. I would think about having a pie or pies instead of cake. There are many flavorful varieties to be found or baked. They can be ordered on line and freeze-packed delivered right to your door.
Ice-cream with cake is an old-time favorite. However, it may not always be possible at parties due to storage issues. It can be a healthier nutritional menu choice if it is organic. Soy Ice-cream can be purchased for the lactose intolerant. A Variety Box with ice-creams on a stick and sandwiches can be quite a conversation piece. Individual portion containers usually cost more than Tubs or Boxes of ice-cream.
*** Birthday Party Food ***
I prefer kid friendly finger style foods for lunch and dinner a parties. The allotted time, budget, and location often affect the actual choice. Plain cheese pizza is always a big hit and the pizza shop even delivers! Organic pizza is available in many grocery frozen food sections. Beware; there is a risk of burning it if you are distracted by the party. Peanut Butter sandwiches are too risky due to possible allergies and some children may not show a severe allergic reaction until 5 years of age. Hot Dogs can be easy to prepare and enjoyable for children but adult supervision is always important since hot dogs can be a choke hazard. Hot Dogs can be found in Organic beef, chicken, or turkey. They can be easily boiled in a pot! Grilled cheese sandwiches are time-consuming for large home parties. They are a great idea at an Advertised Party Center with a kitchen or restaurant. Chicken Nuggets or Chicken Tenders are a big-time children's favorite. They can be purchased in large packages and heated in the oven. Children tend to be really picky on how they like their Macaroni & Cheese, so I just would not serve it as a main item. Many Advertised Party Centers include food in their party packages; however the menus tend to be more restrictive and less nutritional.
Main items can be served with the following variety of healthy Organic choices: vegetable chips, tortilla chips, real Cheddar Snack Bunnies, Individual Cheese Sticks, fruit (kiwi, grapes, berries), and cut-up vegetables (carrots, celery) with Ranch Dressing.
A fun snack and activity idea is to bake themed Sugar cookies before the party. The children can personalize them with Decorative Icing in a can or tube as an Arts & Crafts Activity.
Another fun idea is to order Custom Printed M&M's for your child's birthday party. The personalized M&M's can include a small message or just the child's name.
*** Birthday Party Drinks ***
I purchase small cups and containers to cut down on large drink spills. Sodas are not a healthy nutritional choice. Purified water with minerals can be purchased in a 1 gallon container to be poured into theme party cups. Purified water with minerals can also be found in .5L containers and half-pint sizes. Chocolate or plain milk can be found in Organic, Lactose free, and Soy half gallon cartons. Chocolate, plain, and strawberry Reduced Fat Organic milk can be found in 8 FL oz servings with attached straws (www.horizonorganic.com).