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It's the Most Wonderful Time of the year!

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Happy Holidays Chowhounds!

It's that time again and I want your help to head off a certain holiday entertaining problem at the pass. Quite surprisingly (let me be a surprised optimist!) I've found over the past few years that when I include families with children in our holiday events there are always a few who make 'kid food' demands.

I've always entertained quite a lot and now that my child is in elementary school I allow him to invite friends (and their corresponding grown ups) to our parties. They are usually happy to come and we've met a lot of nice people... but inevitably I have one of the mothers (fathers don't do this in my experience) call up and either ask to review my menu or launch into an explanation of what her child will and will not eat.

To be more clear, this is Open House style entertaining not a sit down dinner and I have no intention of cooking Kid Food or handling food aversions. I have a child and he has never gone hungry at one of these events, probably because he's never hear of Kid Food. The upcoming event will begin at 7pm so guests with picky eaters can easily feed them beforehand and I am serving at least 20 different dishes.

So how do you/would you handle this?

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  1. It might be helpful to let us know what you plan on serving as it stands now.
    Some mothers can be so irrational with their chld's eating demands it's tough to even guess what the demands may be.
    Even what used to be the most kid friendly foods now have some mother's fraught with terror.
    PB&J - Nuts and (gasp!) white bread can be no-no's in some households.
    Chicken fingers - breaded and possibly fried?
    mac and cheese - "My kid can't eat dairy, please use all soy ingredients" lol

    My advice,
    If someone were to call you, I would take any allergies seriously, but tell the parents just what you told us, that you will have about 20 dishes and you're certain there will be *something* their DC can eat.
    Good luck and I hope all goes well!

    1. People can be so rude! I would not even get into that conversation. In a situation like this, I would only ask if there are serious allergies you should be aware of, and then politely say that you are planning to serve a variety of dishes and there should be something little Johnny can eat, but if little Johnny cannot attend, you perfectly understand. Who needs guests like that.

      On another note, the children in my extended family are all rather sophisticated eaters, much more so than I was. However, if they were inviting friends, I would make sure to have a few 'kid-friendly' dishes on hand.

      1 Reply
      1. re: brandygirl

        If someone were to call you, I'd tell them what you plan to offer. If they start to say, "Little Johnny can't have X, Y & Z" I'd say, "We were so looking forward to having you this year, but we completely understand if you can't make it."

        Then, you give them the choice: they can bring something for Little Johnny to eat, or they can skip the party. You do not let them have power over you. You are the hostess. You rule.

        My experience is that kids will eat a) turkey b) mac and cheese c) all your red and green M&Ms. Have those three things and they'll be okay.

      2. I had a picky eater, and my DH is the pickiest of all, but I would have never thought about reviewing your menu. I just fed them before hand just in case. But I think if you put some cheese and crackers, fresh vegetables with a dip, and some cut up fruit that should cover the picky ones.

        2 Replies
        1. re: danhole

          I serve lots of cheese and fruit and there are so many choices - but the food does tend to be a little bit sophisticated, I wouldn't say it's anything way out there but there isn't any turkey or mac 'n cheese. But I think the same way that you and some others do about picky eaters. I think it's a shame if your children or spouse won't eat a variety of foods but if that's not something you want to change then wouldn't you just feed your children beforehand?

          It's just weird. But now that I'm thinking about it, maybe I will add macaroni and cheese to the menu...

          1. re: Kater

            Kater, I wouldn't bother. Mac 'n cheese is on that "suspect" list with all the lactose intolerance, dairy allergies, etc. Unless it would really compliment your menu, I don't think you need it. If they are hungry, they will find something to eat, or they will leave early! It's an Open House, so people won't expect to have a full meal. Like you said, it's not a sit down dinner. You'll be fine!

        2. In fifth's book, if you have a picky kid or one with a lot of dietary intolerances, have the kid eat first.

          1. Yeah, here is what I have come to realize. You have a party...any kind of party....you put a bunch of kids together, they run like wild dogs and play. You basically have to hold them down to get them to eat anything anyway. Chips and salsa. Veggies and dip. Olives. Cheese and pepperoni tray. And surprisingly enough, every once in awhile, if they stop playing long enough to eat, they will generally try something thats there.

            Don't sweat it. The worst that will happen is the kids will be mad they had to stop playing for their friends to go home at the end of the party.