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Aug 17, 2014 11:28 AM

toddler party in the park

my son is turning 3 in September and we're having his party at the park. Looking for any ideas for what to serve that's relatively easy on prep/clean up.

We'd like to avoid pizza if at all possible.


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  1. Toddlers are the ultimate grazers. Think small bites. Maybe quartered sandwiches? parents like to see fruit and veggie trays.

    6 Replies
    1. re: julesrules

      I think simple finger sandwiches for the toddlers is a great idea. Chicken, turkey, cheese, PBJ if allergies are not an issue. Fruit, veggies, goldfish crackers, cheese and crackers, cake. Chicken nuggets are good at room temperature if you want a second choice. Lots of cold water. You could have more interesting sandwiches or make your own sandwiches and a few chips, dips, salsa, etc. for the adults in attendance.

      1. re: julesrules

        Oh and cupcakes are way easier to serve than a cake, obviously.

        1. re: julesrules

          For kids that little, a tiered stand of mini-cupcakes - fewer
          frosting-smeared faces, and less crumbled cake on the ground.

          Better yet, lady fingers halved lengthwise, filled with banana or some berries, and frosting or whipped cream piped over the fruit. Arrange on a tiered cake stand.

          I'd do hot dogs, or miniature ones, from cocktail franks and finger rolls, or as pigs in blankets. Going with finger food means no risk of poking with utensils or sticks.

          1. re: greygarious

            I know everyone thinks they are kid-friendly, but hot dogs are choking hazards and aren't really recommended for kids under 4. I'd split it lengthwise before doing pigs in blankets.


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              yep ..remember the scene in Field of Dreams... Poor guy...lost his dream twice... stupid hot dog..

              1. re: girloftheworld

                HA! I always think of that scene, Burt Lancaster of course: "This child's choking to death!"

                But, I don't think it's authoritative. :) This source is better.

                Popcorn is also on the not recommended list for age 3-5 (or younger.)

                I'm always shocked when I go to birthday parties for toddlers and preschoolers and see things like whole grapes, large berries, popcorn and even hard candy sitting out as snacks for the kids. Hot dogs are a little different because I assume that if they are being grilled or something it's usually expected that a parent can intervene to slice the dog lengthwise, but that's not possible if you bake it into a pig on a blanket.


      2. We did something similar when our son was young. I am assuming that you are having a mix of adults and kids?

        We made all the food ourselves and prepared it in advance. We borrowed a bunch of coolers and made sure we had plenty of ice. Oh and bring extra trash bags in case the parks containers are not convenient or full

        We had two coolers full of ice and drinks. One held small waters for the kids, the other held favored seltzers, ice teas and lemonades for the adults.

        We made big batches of popcorn in advance and seasoned with different flavors and stored it in zip locks. The kids loved the one tossed with rainbow sprinkles. At the party just dump in bowls. Have a scoop for each bowl and med sized plastic cups to serve it in.

        Fruit skewers. There were a hit with the kids too. The night before we cut up a variety of fruit-melons, berries, pineapple, etc and head on skewers. Easy to eat and easy clean up.

        We made a cheese and veggie tray with cubes of assorted cheeses and cut up veggies. Store in separate containers and assemble when there.

        Main course:
        We made assorted pinwheel sandwiches. So many options for fillings, easy to make in advance and easy for even the toddlers to eat. Along side we had potato salad and coleslaw however if you don't want to deal with having utensils you could have bowls of chips, pretzels, etc so everything could be eaten by hand.

        I made mini cupcakes. Again, easy to transport and easy to eat

        If it's really hot that day bring large roasting pans with you, fill with ice and place the bowls and platters on top of the ice. Keeps things cool for a few hours.

        Depending on how festive you want to be bring brightly colored table clothes for the picnic bench and balloons.

        2 Replies
        1. re: foodieX2

          also, not food related but
          set up camp sort of near the restrooms or you will end up having to organize caravans. . . .

        2. i do private chef catering... and for budget toddler party the other day...We did a Dino Dig....I took those glad wear small containers which are about two inches deep and six inches across decorated the lids and sectioned them out with dino themed cup cake liners making little individual bento boxes.. I packed each with dino cut cheese and turkey and some blueberry's and carob chips a juice box... stacked these in a cooler then we did a dry ice volcano punch and cupcakes with plastic dinos on them...

          1. I've yet to meet a child or adult who didn't love sandwiches cut with cookie cutters into fun shapes like a star or heart etc...
            +1 for fruit kebobs and small wedges of watermelon

            Is 3 too young to enjoy a dirt cake? Those are easy to make and always popular.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ttrockwood

              Second all of this. I made a cake like this when my son turned 4. He loved it.

            2. My favorite easy picnic is stuffed braided bread. You can make your own dough or buy it frozen. Be creative on the filling--simple like ham and cheese, do breakfast ones like hard boiled eggs and bacon and cheese, pizza like ones w/ mozzarella and tomato sauce. Just slice and serve. Here's an idea of one: