Organise a Kids’ Cooking Party – Cooking Prep (part 2/3)

I am officially preparing for a kids cooking birthday party and sharing my game-plan and lotsa resources. As always, I’m focussing more on fun and ease for parents than aesthetics. So if you’re like me and are not too overly fussed about party beauty and perfection this will be right up your alley!

To avoid information overload, this series comes in 3 parts. Each new part will be released on Resource Fridays in January 2018:

The guide will be available as a downloadable PDF for subscribers at the end of this series. To receive updates about this series straight in your inbox and all the (printable) resources, leave your email at the bottom of this page.

Well done for doing all that work on prepping for the party. Hopefully your kid chef is getting excited and you’re still motivated to get going.

The cooking part of the party

In this post I’ll focus on how to prepare for the actual cooking part of the party.

I’m not going to cover all the other activities you might want to do at the party, like unwrapping gifts and blowing out the candles and beating up an innocent piñata because information overload would set in. Instead, I’m going to leave you with some ideas from other bloggers that I have loved at the bottom of this page.

I teach cooking classes at schools and special events (see some Instagram photos below) and I’m going to share with you the exact same approach I use to determine what recipe to do with the kids, a run-through of 3 different itineraries depending on how much time (and energy) you have and I’m also going to give you some of my favourite tips for reducing mess and chaos.

Kids with allergies

I’m starting with a word about allergies because this might affect your choice of recipe from the get-go. Keep this in mind if you have kids with allergies in your group..

  • Keep the parents phone number in an easily accessible place. Get the name and number of the child’s doctor and emergency contact as well in case you can’t reach the parents.
  • Learn what you should do in the case of an allergic reaction (epi-pen, medication, etc)
  • Make sure to start your prep by putting portion sized parts of the ingredients aside so that the child with the allergies will not experience the risk of cross contamination. Kids and food can get messy and as they will find it hard to remember boundaries you want to help them with that and prep for it. For easy scooping and measuring you can place these ingredients in a roomy ziploc bag.
  • Consider asking the parent to stay if there is a serious risk of exposure or if you feel uncomfortable with the responsibility.

allergy checklist for cooking party

Step-by-Step Cooking Preparation

Step 1: Decide on your recipe

Although all the recipes in the Little Cookery book are very doable for kids of different ages and abilities, some are easier to work through at a party than others. The recipes in the book are divided into 3 different levels: super easy (level 1), easy (level 2) and slightly more challenging (level 3) so I’d definitely look at your group’s age and abilities and choose a recipe that everyone will be able to participate in.

Considering the time I have and the age of the kids coming to the cooking party of my kids, I’m going to make shortbread cookies. Most kids love those and they give me enough time in the oven to get everything cleared up and cooled down in time for tasting before parents come to pick up the kids.

Recipe recommendations

Depending what you are aiming to achieve, here are some recipe recommendations:

  • Great for individual portions -> Choccy mug cake
  • Great for speed -> Shortbread
  • Great for sharing and teamwork -> Blueberry muffins
  • Great for very young kids with lots of sensory squishing and rubbing -> Coconut mug cake
  • Great for a tight budget -> Shortbread

choose your birthday party recipes inforgraphic

Go choccy mug cake

These individually portioned cakes are deliciously chocolate-y and can be eaten plain or you can put some extra goodies on top as decorations.

Use this if you..

  • have very young kids (2-4 years old) with very short attention spans;
  • kids with allergies as they are all individually portioned;
  • don’t have a lot of time for the cooking activity;
  • want to give a mug as a party favor.

Go shortbread

This buttery shortbread will melt in your mouth and look great wrapped up in a little food container.

Use this if you..

  • have very young kids (2-4 years old) with very short attention spans;
  • don’t have a lot of time for the cooking activity but can allow for about an hour wait time;
  • are on a tight budget, flour and sugar are the main ingredients here;
  • want to spend some extra time to make or decorate little cookie gift boxes with the kids.

Go blueberry muffins

These delicious blueberry muffins are great for enjoying together instead of a birthday cake.

Use this if you..

  • have slightly older kids (6+);
  • want the kids to work in teams;
  • want to add some individuality to the party by offering different colorful cupcake cups to choose from.

Go coconut mug cake

The banana and coconut pairing in this mug cake will cast a delicious smell from the oven.

Use this if you..

  • have young kids (4+ years old) with quite short attention spans;
  • want to offer sensory fun like squishing bananas and rubbing coconut between fingers;
  • kids with allergies as they are all individually portioned;
  • want to give a mug as a party favor.

TIP! I wouldn’t recommend making the tiramisu because it needs to firm up in the fridge for longer than your party will likely last. The cinnamon swirls require quite a lot of space which is not ideal for birthday parties with lots of kids or not too much space.

Step 2: Get the ingredients

I know this is an obvious one so please forgive me for stating the obvious, but I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if one of you lovely moms did the unthinkable. So just in case you got over-zealous and need someone to bring you back into the real world my word of advise is: DO NOT go shopping for ingredients with the kids at the party. It will be chaos. You will go mad. Life as you know it will end.

Just go shopping for ingredients before the party and make sure to get some extra ingredients in case of spillage (which is guaranteed). You can use the shopping lists for the recipes.

Step 3: Rehearsal time

Before the party it’s really important you try out your chosen recipe and note down things like oven temperature and cook time so you are well prepared.

party blog post little cookery

Step 4: Get a helper

Cooking with kids is not an activity you can do by yourself. You are going to need someone who can be in charge of the oven and doing a proper clean-up when the kids are done with cooking. An older sibling could also work fine, it’s just the extra set of hands you need to keep it all moving and to keep bringing you coffees.

Step 4: Cooking activities to include

Cooking at a birthday party is an experience that you can extend to your hearts desire. You can include art, pretend play and games to the party depending on how much time you have and what the kids would enjoy.

Here’s a list of ideas for activities to include before, during or after the main cooking event. I’d recommend doing no more than 1 or 2 of these to make sure you don’t overload kids who are probably experiencing a sugar rush because they “accidentally” ate it straight out of the bag.

Activities before cooking

  • Set up a little pretend shop with the ingredients and let them “shop” for their food using their own shopping lists that you will find in the Little Cookery book. Monopoly money and a calculator are sure to add to the fun;
  • Hide the cups around the room and let them look for them;
  • Do a quiz to see who knows the ingredients;
  • Decorate their own aprons or cooks hats with textile markers.

Activities while the food is in the oven;

  • Watch a movie about cooking like Ratatouille;
  • Make food packaging or decorate some ready made food boxes, bags or carriers;
  • Using playdough, get the kids to make the ingredients they used in the food.

Activities after the food is done

  • Get some server uniforms and order books and have kids serve the goodies to their ‘customers’;
  • Host an award ceremony using print outs of the free Little Cookery awards. You can even decorate some frames and put the award in them afterwards.

Closing statement

That brings as at the end of the preparation phase with the party prep and the cooking prep done. Well done. Make yourself a coffee and pat yourself on the back. This is a great accomplishment and I hope you will feel utterly prepared for the party itself.

Let’s move on to the final part (3/3) in this series and get this party started.