Fun with food

At your next birthday party, take a pass on pizza. These fabulous (and easy!) activities will keep partygoers busy and fed

Test your senses

Mystery food match
Prep and play directions: Divide the partygoers into two groups. Blindfold one group at a time with scarves or hats pulled over their eyes. While the other group watches, pass around one food item at a time and have the blindfolded children guess what it is based on different sensory experiences. How does the item feel: smooth or rough? How does it smell? Give it a shake: Does it make a distinctive sound?

Try these sensational sensory food items:

Touch: broccoli, pineapple, kiwi, marshmallows, jelly
Smell: cinnamon bark, strawberries, melon, apples
Hear: rice or beans in a container, juice in a bottle

Who eats that?
Prep and play directions: Paste pictures of animals on cards and place them face down in a pile. Prepare a tray of food that each animal might eat, cut into kid-sized pieces. Each child takes a turn choosing a card, then acting like the animal depicted. The other kids can guess the animal and do their own best impressions. Guide them to figure out what the animal eats, then give all the little party “animals” a taste of that food.

Here are a few animal-and-food combos to try:

Monkey eats (bananas)
Mouse eats (cheese)
Rabbit eats (carrots)
Cat drinks (milk)

Edible board games
Prep and play directions: Choose a few well-loved, simple board games and set them up in different stations around the party room, replacing the game pieces with food items. (Try our ideas, below, and make up some of your own.) Children can play one-on-one or, for larger groups, in two-player teams. After 10 minutes, they get to move on to another game station.

Tip: This activity works well after school and on playdates too.

Snacks and ladders Players get a gummi worm when they land on a snake, a pretzel when they land on a ladder.

Checkers and cheese Crackers — round for one player and square for her opponent — are topped with cheese or fruit when “kinged.” If you jump one, you get to eat it!

Delicious dice Players note the number that turns up on their roll of the dice, then choose the same number of jelly beans, popcorn or cereal pieces to munch.

Cookie dough sculptures
Prep and play directions: Set kids up with the prepared cookie dough on a stain-proof surface or individual cookie sheets. Allow them plenty of time to sculpt creative shapes, keeping them fairly flat. When the masterpieces are completed, bake according to recipe or package directions. Send the cooled cookies home in a loot bag along with additional dough (and baking directions) to use at home.

Making the cookie dough Start with your favourite sugar cookie dough (ours is online at Todaysparent.com/sugarcookies); a store-bought mix or refrigerated dough is fine too. Divide into four bowls and tint each by kneading in a small amount of food colouring until well incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Tip: Food colouring paste, available at bulk food, craft and baking-supply stores, gives the most intense colour and won’t stain partygoers’ hands.

Make your own tacos
Prep directions: Create a taco table by laying out an assortment of kid-friendly fixings, including hard and soft taco shells, cooked ground beef and shredded cooked chicken, shredded cheese, diced cucumber and red pepper, mild salsa and sour cream. Then let partygoers put together their own eats!

DIY dessert
Ice cream sundae bar
Prep directions: Pre-scoop ice cream into dishes ahead of time, and pop into the freezer. Fill small bowls with fun, tasty toppings (for example: chocolate pieces, jujubes, graham cookies, marshmallows, candy-coated chocolates, cookie pieces and toasted coconut). Put everything out on a table or sideboard with plenty of spoons so partygoers can enjoy customized sundaes for dessert.

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