If the weather’s wet and cold outside and you’re looking for a fun way to entertain your children, why not throw a cooking party? Karen’s held many in the past and has great tips and themes to base your party on.
I am an expert on creating cooking parties for children; every sleep-over or birthday party for my daughter was linked to some sort of cooking party, and they were always immense fun as well as being creative in a culinary sense! From Midnight Feasts (usually served at about 10pm!) to Picnics in the garden, I have embraced the party side of cookery soul with children, and have the “massive clean-up t-shirt” to prove it! Children LOVE to be involved with creating and cooking food, and what better opportunity than a birthday party or just a wet Sunday plays session indoors.
So, how do you create a cookery party for your children? Planning is essential of course; you need to know what type of food you are serving based on the theme, how they can become involved safely (given that you may have lots of children to entertain) as well as planning the “cooking party” area and space. I will list some cooking party ideas below, and give suggestions about how to host them, but for now, let’s go with my themed party for this article, a Teddy Bear’s Picnic or Tea Party.
The first thing is the invitations, if this is a party for a special occasion or a sleep-over; if it is just for your children, then invitations are STILL a lovely idea! Get the kids involved in designing and making the invitations, and then accompany them when they “post” them through the letterboxes (or by mail). Plan where the party is going to take place – you may need two areas, the cooking area and possibly the party area, such as the living or dining room. For a Teddy Bear’s Picnic or Tea Party, gather all your kid’s teddies and soft toys together and set them up in the party area, with a tablecloth of course, and any other props to make it seem fun, such as a miniature tea set, rug, cushions and a picnic hamper; in the summer, this can be set up outside in the garden or even the local park.
The food: For a Teddy Bear’s Picnic or Tea Party, the cookery party can be making the sandwiches for the event; the cakes and biscuits can be made beforehand, and then all of the children can make an assortment of sandwiches with different fillings. Arrange ham, cheese, egg mayonnaise, tuna salad, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, pickle, mayonnaise, sliced bread, bread rolls and the butter or spread on the table and give each child an apron (you can buy disposable plastic aprons at party suppliers) along with a small spreading knife (not sharp) and a mat. Get them to make the sandwiches and then arrange them on a plate, or wrap them up as if going on a picnic. If the children are over five years old, they can also grate the cheese, slice the tomatoes and peel the eggs for the egg mayonnaise. Once the sandwiches are made, make some “tea”, which can be squash or fruit juice and get them to pour it into a teapot or a flask.
It’s now time to party, allow the children to set the food out with the teddy bears, and let them sit amongst the stuffed animals on the floor (on cushions) or rugs if outside. Provide lots of napkins and put some appropriate music on!
The idea of the Teddy Bear’s Picnic or Tea Party is simple and may not involve any “cooking” as such, but it’s ideal for little children, and they will love making sandwiches, or even icing pre-made cakes before the party commences. Other ideas for cookery parties, all tried and tested by me and many children are:
Make the pizza dough with the children and then allow them to “design” their own pizzas by adding toppings that are on the table such as: grated cheese, ham, olives, onions, tomato sauce, tomatoes, pineapple chunks, salami, mixed herbs etc. Make sure you have enough pizza baking stones or trays and enough room in the oven to cook at least four pizzas at a time or more.
Burger or BBQ Parties
Get the kids to make their own burgers – have minced beef and seasonings at the ready; get them to make their own burger patties, and then with supervision, cook them. Have assorted bread buns, cheese, bacon, salad leaves tomatoes, relishes, mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard available on the table so they can “build” their own burger!
A sure way to have lots of fun, and makes a great cooking party for the little ones as well as older girls, for a “girly” party. Have lots of different cake cases, cake stands (those cardboard ones are ideal), sprinkles, sweets, icing bags and such like ready for decorating the cakes. Let them work in pairs to weigh the ingredients and mix the cake mixture before you bake the cakes for them.
Midnight Feast Parties
Anything goes here, but I used to let my daughter and her friends make cocoa (hot chocolate) with supervision, as well as sandwiches, stuff on toast and salads to take up to the bedroom for a special midnight feast! I used to let them pack it all up on containers and give them a tablecloth for the floor and lots of napkins.
Ice Cream Sundae Parties
Easy to organise and totally fun! Suitable for all ages, even adults! Have tubs of various ice cream flavours on the table, with sauces (these can be made with the children), squirty cream, mixed fruit, nuts, chocolate flakes, cones, wafers, sprinkles and other sweet treats for the children to make their own ice cream sundae, or even a banana split! Don’t forget to have lots of bowls handy for their masterpieces, and napkins!
Great fun and easy too! Allow them to make the batter, older children can make the pancakes with close supervision, and then allow them to add their own ingredients such as classic lemon, sugar, jam, honey, golden syrup and Nutella. Savoury pancakes can also be made too.
Just as it says on the box, a party which involves cooking pasta; sauces can be prepared and made, and fresh pasta can also be attempted, with a pasta machine, or just a rolling pin! Great for older children, and especially if they make ravioli and other types of stuffed pasta.
Great for simple biscuit and cookie recipes, and also perfect for little ones. Rolled and drop biscuits and cookie recipes are best. Allow the kids to take some of their baking home with them in little cellophane bags or boxes, and don’t forget to let them go wild with the decorating!
Creating a cookery party with children is all about creativity and imagination – most types of food can be cooked in a part type atmosphere, even down to breakfast parties, soup and bread parties! The main tip is to plan ahead and know who many children are attending. Have plenty of bowls, pans, trays, aprons and warm soapy water for dirty little hands to be washed in! Props can be used, like my featured Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Tea Party and the usual suspects such as balloons, goodie bags to take away (maybe with the recipes and some fun ingredients inside), individual party boxes (for cold food), place mats etc.
For teenagers, Chilli and Wraps parties are hugely successful, and can be supervised with a minimum of involvement too – just leave them with the recipe, the ingredients and a basic set of safety rules.
I hope this has inspired you to host some cookery parties with your kids; they are fun as well as educational and entertaining. I have to get back to my Teddy Bear’s Picnic Party now……before the bears scoff all the cakes and sarnies!
For more fun kids recipes for cookery parties visit Great British Chefs Collection.