We’ve all been there. You’ve got dinner simmering away in the kitchen, andIn your family dinner party is just getting fun. Then, all of a sudden, the children make it known that they can’t stomach a single thing on the appetizer table.
No amount of coaxing will get your darling children to branch out and try even one of the tasty apps you spent hours preparing. To their eyes, these foods might as well have been from another planet and now is not the time for them to try something new.
If you genuinely can’t connect to this scene, then please accept my congratulations on how adventurous your children are!
For those of you who know how tough it can be to get kids to participate in the appetizer course, don’t give up!
The truth is that there’s no reason your kids should have to make a stink about appetizers. It can be a tough situation for them from the start. Parties are stimulating enough by themselves, and now they see that dinner is not going to be a routine affair filled with familiar foods.
But with some planning and a few simple techniques, you can easily create a kid friendly appetizer spread that will keep even the pickiest eaters happy and content until it’s time for the main course.
Have One ‘Kid Friendly’ Appetizer Tray At the Table
The first thing to do to execute this plan is to set aside one area. I like to use one specific tray for apps you think the children at your party will enjoy.
If you plan to have a kids-only eating area, you might want to put this tray on that table from the start. But even if you have everything together, make sure to keep all the kiddie food together.
This will silently signal to everyone, even the adults, that these foods are for less adventurous eaters.
Keep it Clean and Safe
There are a few reasons appetizers may be intimidating for the little ones at your party.
First, it’s not always clear how to approach the food itself. Those pretty flags sticking out of finger foods can become dangerous, really quickly (at least for the little ones).
When it comes to your kid-friendly apps, make sure to stick with foods that they’ll be able to serve to themselves comfortably. That includes raw fruits and vegetables, simple dips and spreads, and maybe some finger food.
Avoid any non-edible items being part of the plate, like spears, pits, seeds, or wrappers.
One Step at a Time
The key to making appetizers that will be successful and inviting is to begin with foods your young guests already know and love. So, if your kids like ham and cheese on their sandwiches, maybe put together some ham and crème cheese roll-ups.
You might have snacked down on pita in the past, so introduce them to pita segments with hummus or another dip. Pick out some new cheeses the little ones haven’t tried before, and pair those with their favorite crackers.
Your goal should be to have a plate where your child probably won’t need to ask you what anything is – they’ll be able to walk right up and dive in!
There are so many online resources where you can find great recipes that tow this line.
Some of my favorites, which aren’t too difficult to throw together, include baked cheese puffs, spinach and artichoke pastries, cauliflower tots, bacon-wrapped pickles, and parmesan-roasted broccoli stalks.
You can also go with some fresh nuts, fruits, and vegetables. These are always great options for the kids and even for some of the grown-ups.
So Good You’ll Spoil Your Dinner!
One thing to watch out for once you’ve laid out your kid-friendly appetizer tray is portion control. As we all know, kids can be terrible at spacing out their eating over a long time.
Take this opportunity to teach your kids about how to be good hosts (or guests) at a dinner party. Show them how to sample the delicious foods but to make sure there’s plenty left for everyone else to try. This will also help to make sure they have room in their tummies for the main course.
Don’t Forget the Drinks
While the kids obviously won’t be allowed to participate in cocktail hour, that doesn’t mean they can’t have a fun drink!
There are many great options for drinks that kids will enjoy. Give a few of these suggestions a try!
One favorite around our house is sparkling apple cider. We were only allowed to have sparkling cider a few times a year. So you can imagine how special it was to have a glass!
Using the soda stream with natural flavorings is another great source of fun without all the extra sugar. Try flavoring water with fruit in the spring or summer for a fun twist!
Get Them Involved
The most important thing to consider when deciding what to serve the kids at your party is to plan and know your audience.
Talk to your kids ahead of time. This will help them feel like they’re a part of the planning process. Not only will you find menu options they’ll love, but they will feel a greater sense of ownership over the party. This will also help to push your kids to be on their best behavior.
There’s a big difference between getting drug to a party and being asked to help host a party. Giving your kids a feeling of inclusion could be the difference between some whiny guests and a bunch of little helpers.