Party Food for Tween Boys – and Girls too
“What a shame, this man really knows how to cook” said no woman ever! I don’t think any man has ever said that about a woman either or about anyone – male or female, young or old. Cooking is a life skill. It can also be super fun, adventurous, enjoyable, creative…even relaxing.
Men and women, and boys and girls, who cook know that it’s not an impossibly difficult or overwhelmingly messy task. Super fancy-schmancy cooking can take a lot of time and be tricky. But, like any basic skill, cooking acumen (high I.K. – Intelligence in the Kitchen) is developed and honed with practice and by starting at a manageable level. Like learning another language or to play an instrument, the earlier in life the kitchen practice starts, the more natural the skill becomes. Although, it’s truly never too late to start!
Although we’ve had lots of fun hosting larger crowds for past birthday parties, when our son brought us his top two ideas for this time, we opted for the ‘smaller group plus a sleepover’ plan instead of the second option of a ‘sports-themed gala for the 47 kids kids in his class and on his hockey team.’ Maybe next time???
With the goals of fun, memories…and a little secret learning too, we themed the party for these 10 year old boys around fun in the kitchen. We prepared homemade pizza dough and a variety of toppings in advance. When the kids arrived, they each donned an apron and got to work rolling, shaping and topping their pizzas. This age group loves “custom” gear – things that are personalized to them. The pizza was precisely that with their own mix of toppings. One young chef bordered his pizza with a little extra cheese tucked under the edges for a stuffed crust! Impressive!
While the pizzas baked, we set out a salad bar of offerings with different dressings from which the kids made their own appetizer salads. (Next time perhaps they make the dressings too and get a science/life lesson about how oil and vinegar don’t mix.) Given the terribly disappointing example restaurants have set with their “kid’s menus” salad is not typically what comes to mind in considering what to serve at a party for this age group. These athletic, energetic boys loved it! They each got a container labeled with their name, more custom gear, to use for their salad and then to make a spare one to-go when they left the next morning. The pizzas, salads and water to drink were devoured. A few of the unsolicited comments included “This is the best pizza I’ve ever had!”, “Nothing is ever as good as homemade!” (my favourite), “I LOVE salad!” (Ha!) and “That was so fun!” The kids were very satisfied. A while later they enjoyed birthday cake and ice cream. Although we had a few other treats on hand for the party action to follow, when offered a snack a few hours after dinner, they chose homemade popcorn, apple slices (seriously), and a few potato chips. They declined the Doritos and pop that were also offered. Seriously! In the morning, a stack of blueberry pancakes, made by Dad, was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
A fun, memorable party with a little developing of a love for cooking mixed in for the boys…mission accomplished! Ideas for the next one are already brewing…DIY sushi, samosas, customized omelettes maybe? 47 kids? That’d be a lot of eggs! 🙂
On a related note: Parents often send cupcakes or other goodies for the whole class or team on their child’s birthday. I’m ALL for this. Not only because of the 80-20 philosophy from which all of my work is rooted, but because life is short and celebrations are meant to be celebrated! Cupcakes aren’t the only thing the kids will love. In this age group in particular, consider pushing the envelope with food choices that keep expanding the list of what they’ll eat – especially in front of their peers. Fruit skewers, strawberries on frilly toothpicks, little cups of fruit salad, individual bags of homemade trail mix that include chocolate chips or mini marshmallows (use cereal if nuts aren’t allowed at school), a platter of veggies and dip perhaps? As easy to whip up as a batch of cupcakes, we made a custom blueberry “pie” for each kid on the team (a small tart each). Not yet fully into the teenage angst years, this age group looks up to Mom and Dad so much. Take every opportunity when you can to provide great food and kitchen intelligence opportunities for growing kids – your own and any of the kids growing up in your village. Cheers!