How do you throw a birthday party for your child without providing sweets and processed carbs? Kath is asked this question often. She was asked again this morning, at the Cape Town media launch of her book.
This is her advice:
* Throw the party over a mealtime: brunch, lunch or supper, depending on the age of the child.
* Keep it busy. After the meal, let the children do something physical. It works if this is the main focus of the party. The more time the little guests spend playing, the less time they’ll spend eating.
* Keep the party short: two hours is ideal.
* Even if you decide not to serve a meal, don’t lay out a party food table; instead offer individual party boxes. Follow the Rule of Twos: two sweet items, two savory items and two healthy items.
* Make the cake the treat. The cake is whatever the birthday child wants it to be: ice cream cake, cupcakes or double layer chocolate. They can have what they like as this is the only sweet treat at the party. The party cake shall be served from a festive table.
* There is no party pack.
We hear you. It’s not just the party. The birthday child must take something into class. There are other children’s birthday parties (and party packs), Bakers Man, Cake Sales, Halloween, Easter, pinatas, Christmas, cinema snacks, Valentines Day ice creams … there are a great many challenges to our child’s healthy eating that come from school and friends.
While we’re waiting for the world to change, the the sensible parents among us will do the following:
* Let our child choose all the inedible items and one treat from the party pack … and then hide the pack. If he remembers it exists he may have one treat at a time. If he forgets, we shall throw it out.
* If we must make party packs, leave junk food out of them. We shall transform the party pack concept into a “take-home gift” concept. Our take-home gifts shall be things like notebooks, pens, stickers or a handmade item. Craft items made at the party shall be gift enough.
* Remind our children before they attend a party that birthday celebrations are mainly about honouring an individual and socialising – not about gorging!
* Encourage them to take a plate and dish up for themselves a handful of crisps and a handful of sweets. This is the way of the grown-up cocktail party, after all.
* Feed them during that conversation. Teach your child to be like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind: Always aim to arrive at a party full.
As far as all the other festive occasions are concerned, check out the treats recipes in Kath’s books. We haven’t skimped on bling.