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Child's afternoon birthday party - 60 people

My son's 2nd birthday party is next weekend and I think I may have bit off a bit more than I intended. I have been planning on a casual backyard party, very easy. Well, I've tallied the RSVPs and we will have 40 adults and 15 children (most in the 2 year old range, some a bit older).

The party is at 3pm so I do not think we need to do a full meal but I do think we should offer more than just cake. I want to keep it relatively simple and relatively affordable. What would you do?

I was thinking fruit and veggie trays and a couple of bowls of kid snacks like Cheez-It crackers, raisins and graham crackers. Do you think that is enough? Do i need to do more?

Thanks for your help!

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  1. I'd do a few apps, maybe some cheese/sausage or small sandwiches. If you have a grill, why not some burgers or chicken pieces?
    Just fruit/veggies and some crackers doesn't seem like a lot.

    1. It depends. How was the invite worded? Is there an end time? Do you have kid activities planned? Was the intent to entertain the kids or more of a celebration for everyone?

      My knee jerk reaction is 40 adults and only fruit and veggie trays? No way unless the idea is that this is truly a kid b-day party-1 hour max affair with pin the tail (or whatever), cake, presents (or not) and go home.

      The kids are a minor factor since most are in the 2 year range. Any parent worth their salt is going to make sure their kid is well nourished before your typical party as toddlers will be more interested in playing (and the cake) than snacks.

      Without more details it sounds more like an adult based party as opposed to a kids one. If thats the case I would plan on some kind of protein based nibbles in addition to the fruit/veggie. Cheese and crackers? Maybe some salami or other meats to go with? How about small sandwiches, not full sized but dinner sized rolls with chicken salad, roast beef/ham/turkey with cheese along with a veggie option. Add a vinegar based pasta, orzo or potato salad.

      What about drinks? Cooler of juice boxes/ bottle water for the kids. Adults would like pitchers of ice tea, lemonade maybe some beer/wine.

      4 Replies
      1. re: foodieX2

        The invite didn't specify an end time or anything about food. Just the start time and occasion. There is a kid activity - we are going to have them do some painting and plan to have sidewalk chalk available. Most of the adults who are coming are the parents of kid guests (a few close family friends and aunts/uncle types).

        Yes, it definitely is a party for the adults too so I think I am inclined to agree that we need to do more. I could easily do the cheese cubes and I was thinking maybe chicken wings? It would be easy to do them in advance in the oven and have a large platter. I am not crazy about the idea of firing up the grill as it is a distraction for the griller and I think full burgers/hot dogs is too substantial for a non mealtime plus then we have to watch the kids around the hot grill.

        For drinks I have two nice beverage dispensers and I was thinking of doing lemonade in one and water with something decorative in it (like fruit? so it doesn't look like "just" water).

        1. re: melissalane4730

          Agree about the grill, especially if it's centrally located "in the line of fire". Takes too much attention, and say more of a "meal". Of course if one of the doting Aunts or Uncles want to contribute and do grill duty than that easy on you! Maybe move the grill to less a trafficked area and then its easy-platter of rolls, condiments and maybe a mixed green or potato salad.

          Wings would be great but they can be messy and hard to eat if one is chasing kids. Messy hands, tons of napkins and what do you do with the bones? If you want something you can do ahead and is no fuss you could have a crock pot of mini meatballs with tooth picks on the side for easy eating. Mini quiches are easy and great hot or cold. Deviled eggs, Pigs-in-a-blanket, shrimp cocktail are easy to do advance as well as easy to eat and run.

          Your drinks sound fine but think about having a drink markers (colored rubber bands are great) and/or sharpies for the glasses. Kids (and parents) are notorious for putting their drinks down and not being able to find them. Marking or writing their name on the cups makes them easy to find again

          1. re: foodieX2

            Good thinking on wings and marking cups! Shrimp cocktail gets pricey fast but deviled eggs is a good and more substantial alternative.

            After mulling another reply I am leaning toward doing a couple hearty dips- buffalo chicken dip and cheesy artichoke dip along with cheese, fruit, veggies and chips/crackers. I think that is plenty for an afternoon along with the cake.

            Thanks everyone. Other suggestions definitely welcome!

            1. re: foodieX2

              Oooh FoodieX2, you just listed all the food I'd love to see if I was a guest at the party!!!

        2. I wouldn't try to grill and feed that many people. Keep the fruit and veggie trays and maybe add some cheese, dips and hummus. Make sure your snacks aren't all kiddie things. And have an established end time. If it starts at 3, maybe end by 5 so people don't expect dinner.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mojoeater

            Thanks - i like your response because it was what I wanted to hear! :)

            I think you are right that I need to do something more than just fruit, veggies, crackers but that I can still keep it somewhat minimal. Dips are a good idea as they make people feel more full but are easy to prepare in advance. I know our friends really like a buffalo chicken dip and a cheesy artichoke dip which are both extremely delicious and easy.

            Thanks for helping to get my creative juices flowing!

          2. Fruit and veggie trays, kiddie snacks and cake sound good to me! Really, what do people coming to a 2yr old's birthday party really want? Our family (17 adults) celebrated children's birthdays with cake, tea/coffee/juice, fruit tray, cookies. For years. 2-4 pm.

            1. if it were me,
              i'd start with sandwich platters of sandwiches made on little rolls so they'd be easy to eat.
              some sandwiches shoud be vegetarian.
              the cheese sandwiches should be made with good quality cheese. (think costco)
              the sandwiches should NOT contain tomato or any other watery ingredient that wil make the rolls soggy.

              also, there will always be a number of people that like cheap pizza: easy to have that delivered.

              1. We just celebrated our grandson's birthday, it was right after lunch, and we had cake and ice cream, watched him open his presents. His mom read every card aloud. It was sweet.. I also appreciated that they didn't start setting the bar high when it came to birthday parties! They only had family/extended family in attendance.
                I think what you have planned sounds great. Your plan to have a couple of hearty dips, cheese, fruit, veggies, chips is plenty!

                1. I have always found that adults like children's food as well as long as they are done well, think onion dip and pigs in a blanket. I also love spanakopita which can be eaten hot or cold. Please do not buy cheesies, they get all over the little hands and are soooo messy. I had to learn that the hard way!