Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Definitive Guide to Hosting an Entirely Vegan Children’s Birthday Party

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Putting on kids’ birthday parties can be tricky, and making them vegan might seem a challenge, but it’s easier than you may think! In this handy guide, lifelong vegan Lucy Rutherford
gives you her tried and tested advice.

Both my sister and I have been vegan since birth, so it was never a question that all our birthday parties were vegan birthday parties. Although as a kid I never worried about it (it was our party, therefore our friends had to eat our food for a change!), it can be nerve-wracking as a parent to serve vegan food to your kids’ omnivore friends, who may or may not like hummus. However, during my childhood my mum hosted numerous successful vegan parties that were the talk of our friendship group.

Combining my memories with my mum’s wise words of experience, I have compiled a list of party food rules and a list of easy and tasty vegan foods that are perfect for fussy kids.

Rule 1: Keep it Simple!

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Mum’s tip: Kids like food they’re familiar with. Although your kids might adore kale chips and raw sushi, your guests will probably have a wide range of tastes and food experiences. Veganising party favourites also helps gives parents ideas of what they can serve your kids if they get a return invitation.

 

  • Fruit – the more colourful the better. Watermelon, strawberries, kiwi fruit, rockmelon; these were all fruits we didn’t get to eat everyday which made them a more special plate of fruit than plates of apples and bananas, for example.
  • Chips – just plain, salty chips. When I was a kid, it was hard to find more exciting flavours that were vegan, but these days there’s generally more options. Still, plain or “original” flavours are often safest in case of fussy eaters. Non-potato chips and popcorn are also an option, or you could go all-out and serve all three!
  • Sausage rolls – take a piece of frozen puff pastry, roll it around a bought vegan sausage and bung15090787459_62c78c6d33_zit in the oven for 15 minutes or so. Serve with lots of tomato sauce! I’ve no idea whether my friends noticed any difference between these and normal sausage rolls but they were devoured as soon as they hit the table. In the ‘90s in Australia, the only vegan sausages in supermarkets were good old Sanitarium. There’s so many more brands available now – even frozen vegan sausage rolls from the Linda McCartney brand. However bought sausages are not the cheapest, especially if you need to get a large amount, so looking into making your own can be worthwhile. They are surprisingly easy to make without any particularly unusual ingredients, and you have the freedom to flavour them how you like (I recommend the recipe on the Post Punk Kitchen website).
  • Fairy bread – this is the food I remember being the most excited about because I only ever got it at parties. Cheap white bread, slather it in vegan margarine and dip in Hundreds & Thousands. My sister and I always helped to make these, and sometimes we’d diverge from the traditional triangle and use cookie cutters to make different shapes. It is the most nutrient deficient food ever known to humans but is universally the most adored party food (my 20 year old friends and I still reminisce over fairy bread).
  • Drinks – Mum was not a big fan of sugary carbonated drinks, so although we would have a couple of bottles of lemonade, we’d mainly have juice and when that was gone there was water from the tap. It’s rare to find a non-vegan drink so it’s up to your preference!

Rule 2: Keep it Small!

Mum’s tip: make all the food fairly small as kids will have a tendency to half eat things if it’s too much for them or they get bored of it.

Some fun vegan finger foods are:

  • Dips, veggie sticks and crackers – a good way to get some healthy food into the kids while the veggies and dip add to the colour of the party platters. But be careful! Not all kids may know “dip etiquette”. Mum likes to tell the story of how one child at one of our parties was trying hummus for the first time – not liking the taste, he spat it right back into the bowl.
  • Crackles – these were another food rarity only available to me at parties. Therefore, very exciting! There are lots of different recipes online and even the recipe on the back of the Kellogg’s Rice Bubbles box is vegan. And there’s just something exciting when you’re a child about eating something in a patty pan.
  • Cocktail spring rolls and samosas – most vegetarian frozen spring rolls and samosas in supermarkets are vegan and I loved them as a kid (and still do) and those huge party packs contain a decent amount.

Rule 3: Keep it Timely!

Mum’s tip: Don’t give the lolly bag out early. Its purpose is an enticement for your guests to leave.

FullSizeRenderYou want to keep the food suited to the timing of the party. Lollies were reserved for our home-made piñata if we were having one, or the lolly bags (handed out to guests as they were leaving).

Mum also tended to steer clear of cakes and biscuits during the main food, as she wanted everyone to have room for the main attraction – the cake. Mostly we stuck with a plain chocolate cake and Dad would get his decorating gloves on and ice it in whatever theme we were having that year (the cakes I remember the most were the rainbow cake and the cake decorated like a beach).

  • Lolly bags: Where you live there may be a plethora of vegan lollies for sale but where I live we have to rely on accidentally vegan lollies. My favourites were Sherbies, Fruit Tingles, sherbet, lollipops and gelatine-free jellybeans.
  • For the cake, check out my mum’s recipe here.

So there you go! That’s my guide to a kid’s party vegan menu. I hope it shows that a vegan party food can be simple, tasty and, most importantly, appeal to kids of all diets. In fact, making this list has got me hungry and wanting to invite my friends over for pass the parcel and musical chairs. Though maybe we’ll pass on pin the tail on the donkey… probably not very vegan.

– LUCY RUTHERFORD

Image sources:

Steve’s Birthday Party” by nhanusek is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Fresh Fruit for Watermelon Boats” by ebarney is licensed under CC BY 2.0
 “Vegan sausage rolls for tomorrow’s staff morning tea” by _lulu is licensed under CC BY 2.0