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  • Party Foods Ideas For Every Party

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  • No matter what the age of your guests, the food you serve can make or break the party. You don't want to be known as the house that served liver and onions. Here are some ideas, in no particular order, to ensure that everyone leaves your child's, pre-teen's or teenager's party with their stomach full and a smile on their face.
    1. Cake - Whether homemade or store/bakery-bought, your child's birthday cake does not have to be the standard two-layer cake with candles. If you're having a theme party, incorporate it into your cake design.
    Does your son or daughter have a favorite animal or TV character? Most bakeries can handle Dora, Elmo and Spider-Man. Or, with some creativity, some colored icings and a few different sized cake pans, make your own cat, centipede or spider cake.
    Cupcakes are very much in fashion right now. More and more bakeries are making upscale cupcakes in a wide variety of flavors and designs.
    2. Ice cream - With cake or on its own, ice cream is always a welcome party treat.
    Layer your child's favorite softened ice cream flavors with layers of cake and freeze for your own homemade ice cream cake.
    Or, give guests a "blank canvas" scoop or two of plain chocolate or vanilla and offer a few options for toppings (i.e., candies, sprinkles, hot fudge).
    3. Pigs in a Blanket - You can use cocktail wieners and store-bought crescent roll dough to make these bite-sized snacks.
    For variety, place a piece of cheese on top of the dog before rolling it up in the dough. Don't forget to set out ketchup and mustard for dipping.
    4. S'mores - Messy, but classic, you don't need a campfire to enjoy these treats.
    Place graham cracker halves on a paper plate. Place half a marshmallow on each cracker. Microwave for 30 seconds or less or until the marshmallow begins to puff up. Take the plate out, quickly place a square or 2 of milk chocolate gently into the hot marshmallow, and use the other half of the cracker to smush it down.
    You will definitely want to have some warm, wet paper towels around for sticky hands and faces.
    5. Dirt Cups - Place Oreo cookies in a large plastic zip-lock baggie and crush with a rolling pin. Beat together milk and pudding mix. Stir in whipped toping and1/2 of the crushed cookies. Put 1 tablespoon of crushed cookies into each cup. Fill about 3/4 full with pudding mixture. Top with crushed cookies.Chill until ready to serve. Top with a gummy worm before serving.
    6. English Muffin Pizza - These little pizzas are an easy way to feed a crowd of kids and can be personalized for picky eaters or children with allergies. Give kids plenty of options for toppings, including fresh veggies and different kinds of cheese. You can make these with pita bread as well.
    7. Chicken Nuggets - In addition to the many frozen varieties available in the supermarket, there are a million and one ways to prepare chicken nuggets at home. Choose whichever recipe or method fits into your budget for time.
    For kids, the fun part is in the dipping anyway! Give your little guests a variety of chooses: ketchup, honey mustard, flavored mayo, barbecue sauce, etc.
    8. Bird's Nest - Melt chocolate chips in the microwave. Pour melted chocolate over the chow mien noodles, and gently mix together. Using about 2 Tbs. of the mixture, form into a nest and place on the waxed paper, working quickly so that the chocolate does not harden. Place a few dots of peanut butter inside of each nest to help adhere the jelly beans to the nest.
    9. Sugar Cookie Cutouts - The birthday boy or girl can help you bake these cookies the night before their party. You can decorate them then or, as a fun activity, give party guests colored frostings, sprinkles and small candies to decorate their own.
    10. Magic Potion - Mix a pack of drink mix with 1 1/2 cups water. Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze solid. To serve, pour the soda into clear glasses. Put 1-2 flavored ice cubes into each glass. As the ice cubes dissolve, the drink will magically change color and flavor.
    1. Ants on a Log - Spread peanut butter into the hollow of the celery. Gently press raisins or rice krispies into the peanut butter.
    For variety and for children with peanut allergies, service celery stuffed with cream cheese as well.
    2. Pigs in a Blanket - You can use cocktail wieners and store-bought crescent roll dough to make these bite-sized snacks.
    For variety, place a piece of cheese on top of the dog before rolling it up in the dough. Don't forget to set out ketchup and mustard for dipping.
    3. English Muffin Pizza - These little pizzas are an easy way to feed a crowd of kids and can be easily personalized for picky eaters or children with allergies.
    Give each child an English muffin (split in half) or a pita. Set out bowls of sauce, fresh veggies, sliced pepperoni and a variety of cheeses. Let your party guests make their own custom pizzas. When they are ready, lay them on a cookie sheet (you may want to make note of whose pizza is whose) and bake.
    4. Ice Cream Cake - Layer your child's favorite ice cream flavors with layers of cake and freeze for your own homemade ice cream cake.
    5. Chicken Nuggets - There are a million and one ways to prepare chicken nuggets at home, in addition to the many frozen varieties available in the supermarket. Choose whichever recipe or method fits into your budget for time.
    For kids, the fun part is in the dipping anyway! Give your guests a variety of chooses: ketchup, honey mustard, flavored mayo, barbecue sauce, etc.
    6. Cookie Cutouts - Pre-mix and refrigerate sugar cookie dough the night before the party. Or, buy pre-made dough in your supermarket refrigerator section.
    For a fun party activity, give each child a section of dough and let them make their own cut-out cookies, using different shaped cutters.
    After baking and cooling, the cookies can be decorated with colored frostings, candies and sprinkles.
    7. Jell-O Jigglers - Just follow the directions on a package of Jello. Give your guests cookies cutters so they can make their own shapes.
    8. Pinwheel Sandwiches - On a tortilla, layer cream cheese and jam, peanut butter and jelly, ham and cream cheese, etc.
    Roll up tortilla and filling. Secure with a toothpick and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into 1 1/2 –inch slices that will look like pinhwheels.
    9. Cake - Whether homemade or store/bakery-bought, your child's birthday cake
    does not have to be the standard two-layer cake with candles. If you're having a theme party, incorporate it into your cake design.
    Does your son or daughter have a favorite animal or TV character? Most bakeries can handle Dora, Elmo and Spider-Man. Or, with some creativity, some colored icings and a few different sized cake pans, make your own cat, centipede or spider cake.
    Cupcakes are very much in fashion right now. More and more bakeries are making upscale cupcakes in a wide variety of flavors and designs.
    10. Fresh Fruit - Believe it or not, kids will eat fruit . . . you just have to offer it. There are companies that will prepare artful looking fruit baskets, with the fruit cut up to look like flowers.
    1. Burgers/Hot Dogs - For spring/summer birthdays, throw some hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. If you have to stay indoors, use your oven or indoor grill.
    Don't forget to have some vegetarian alternatives, like grilled or roasted veggies, tofu dogs and veggie burgers.
    2. Shish kabob - Let your teenaged guests create their own shish kabobs. Offer cubes of chicken and beef and a variety of fresh veggies, such as peppers, mushrooms and onions. Brush kabobs with teriyaki sauce if desired and grill.
    3. Pizza - You can always order from your local pizza joint, but why can't the making of the pizza be a part of the festivities?
    The night before the party, mix up a large batch of pizza dough, enough so that each of your guests can make their own miniature pizza.
    Have at the ready, bowls of sauce, fresh veggies, pepperoni, sausage and a variety of cheeses and let your group of teens make their own creation.
    4. Penne Pasta - Pasta is a great canvas for a variety of toppings and sauces. Remember that teenagers have more sophisticated and developed palates. So, offer several varieties of sauce and don't be afraid to go with bold flavors.
    5. Giant Sub Sandwich - Have your local deli make up a giant sub for your party.
    Or, be bold and make your own with cold cuts, lettuce, tomato, oil, vinegar and Italian seasoning.
    Be sure to have a vegetarian alternative available, like a roasted eggplant and mozzarella sub.
    6. Chips/Veggies & Dips - No matter how much food is offered at a party, it is essential to have munchies. Chips and dip are perfect.
    Put out bowls of potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels and even sliced veggies. Offer a variety of dips – French onion, ranch, hummus, salsa, etc.
    7. Cake/Ice Cream - Cake or ice cream . . . why choose? Layer your teen's favorite ice cream flavors with layers of cake and freeze for your own homemade ice cream cake.
    Or, if you want a traditional cake, check out your local supermarket bakery or neighborhood bakery. Many now offer a neat service where they will actually put an actual edible picture on your cake. Imagine your son or daughter's surprise when they open up a box containing a cake emblazoned with their image.
    If you are baking your own cake, take advantage of your teenaged guests' adventurous palettes. Try using fresh fruits and other exotic flavorings instead of just plain old chocolate or vanilla.
    8. Cookie Platter - This is another opportunity to give your teenaged guests some variety.
    Whether homemade or store bought, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of cookies.
    Make up large platters and let guests take home leftovers in storage bags.
    9. Chocolate Fountain - Rent one of these beauties for an instant edible centerpiece.
    Set out plates of cut up pound cake, marshmallows, strawberries, grapes, pineapple, etc. and watch your guests dip away.
    10. Nachos & Cheese - Nothing could be easier than spreading some tortilla chips on a platter, sprinkling them with shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack and microwaving until the cheese is melted. Quickly spoon on refried beans, sour cream and salsa and place slices of jalapeno peppers and olives all over. Sprinkle with chopped green onion and serve.
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