Birthday parties are the prime time to celebrate, but you can’t throw a memorable party without organising and planning it. And when it comes to parties, one of the biggest concerns is always what ends up on people’s plates.
To save you the headache, we’ve created a list of tips on how to plan the perfect birthday party, no matter what your guests’ dietary restrictions may be.
Be mindful of food restrictions
As obvious as it sounds, you should take into account any known allergies or dietary restrictions of each of your guests.
Many cultures and religions have specific dietary guidelines that should be respected. For example, people who follow the Islam faith are not allowed to eat pork or drink alcohol. Hindus do not eat beef, and some Buddhists may avoid eating meat altogether.
Allergies are also a big consideration. Before going all-out with a seafood-themed party, for instance, make sure that you have an alternative dish readily available for your guests who don’t or can’t eat seafood.
The last thing you want is for someone to not be able to enjoy their meal—and ultimately the party—because of the limited food selection. If you’re not sure about someone’s dietary restrictions, ask them in advance when you’re sending out invitations. They’ll usually inform you if there’s anything you need to be aware of.
Consider the age group
The age group of your guests will also dictate what kind of food you should prepare – their perspectives will differ by age and are always important. For example, young children might enjoy finger foods or dishes that they can easily eat with their hands. Things like hotdogs, popcorn, chicken nuggets, and pizza are all food ideas that are sure to be a big hit at children’s birthday parties.
If you’re throwing a party for adults, on the other hand, you might want to consider preparing more sophisticated dishes. This could be anything from a buffet of international cuisine to gourmet hors d’oeuvres. Cocktails and other alcoholic beverages are also something you might want to have on hand for adult parties.
Set a theme
While certainly not mandatory, having a theme can add an extra level of cohesion and fun to your party. It can also make things easier when it comes to deciding on the food. For example, if you’re throwing a pool party, you might want to serve light snacks and finger foods that are easy to eat. If you’re having a Halloween party, on the other hand, you might want to get creative with spooky-themed dishes. Think, for example, of deviled eggs that look like eyeballs or a green punch that resembles slime.
Delegate work to others
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of having to prepare food for your guests, caterers are a safe approach to food that anyone will enjoy. Or, you can opt to consider making the food with friends or family members. This is a great way to lighten your load and also have some fun in the kitchen together. If you have the budget for it, you can also hire a caterer to take care of all the food preparation and cooking. This way, you can focus on all the other important aspects of party planning, like organising the venue or planning the programme.
Follow your budget
While you certainly want to make a good impression on your guests, you’ll need to be realistic. Setting a budget for your food is key. One way to do this is by considering less expensive but equally delicious alternatives to some of your more expensive food ideas. For example, if you’re considering serving freshly-grilled steak, you might want to consider serving chicken cordon bleu instead. No one will be disappointed with a well-made chicken dish, but it will cost you a lot less than steak would.
You can also save money by making some of the food yourself instead of hiring a caterer or ordering takeout.
Get creative with it
One thing that’s for certain: a really good party is wound to end up on social media reels. If you want the merriment to carry over to your guests’ feeds, you’ll want your food presentation to be nothing less than exceptional.
If that’s one of your goals, consider prepping the buffet creatively. For example, you can set up a chocolate fondue station and let your guests dip fruit, marshmallows, or pretzels into it. Putting up a dedicated gelato bike for an ice cream party will also be a surefire way to get some likes and impressions on you and your guests’ stories!
You can also get creative with the presentation of your food. Instead of just placing everything on a table, you might want to consider, say, using a cubby for pastries or setting up a beautiful charcuterie board.