Cooking Parties for Kids

pizza.jpgToday, Michelle Stern of What’s Cooking shares tips for hosting a cooking party for kids:

“If your family is like ours, you’ve been to more play gym birthday parties than you can count. It’s understandably easy to gravitate towards the familiar, but what about considering a different and perhaps less expensive type of party, where kids can learn, be creative, and have fun all at the same time? Cooking parties are gaining popularity, and for good reason. Almost anyone who has cooked with kids can attest that kids who help in the kitchen are better eaters and are more enthusiastic about trying new foods. And if dinnertime is a challenge in your house, you will be up for anything that will improve the mood at your table!

Here are some tips to help you host a cooking party for kids:

  • Decide on a theme. We like to do burrito, taco, or tostada bars, pizza/calzone buffets, and pasta bars with topping stations.

  • Limit the number of guests. Decide on a number that can comfortably work at your kitchen/dining room table or your kitchen counters.

  • Make cleanup easy. If you are cooking at a table, use a tablecloth for easy cleanup.

  • Keep supplies at the ready. Make sure tools and ingredients are in a convenient location, easy for the children to reach. If any of your tools may be distracting, don't make them available until the children need to use them.

  • Individualize it. Depending on the age of the children, it is sometimes best for kids to make their own servings of food (e.g., individualized pizzas); this keeps germs out and allows kids to customize their food, based on their own preferences.

  • Label creations. If you are baking customized foods, have the child create the food on a sheet of foil and write the child's name near their food with a sharpie marker. That way, each child gets his or her own creation instead of getting someone else's.

  • Let kids do the prep work. If cooking is your main activity for the party, don't buy pre-shredded cheese or carrots - let the children do the work and have the fun!

  • Offer plenty of options. Have lots of options, toppings, and condiments available. Give children the freedom to add a variety of ingredients (to their lasagna or tacos, for example). Some will surprise you with their sense of adventure, and that might inspire their friends, too!

  • Continue the theme. Try using cooking related invitations and party favors to help generate enthusiasm for your culinary adventure!"

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