Each of my children can invite only as many friends as will fit around the dining table. That makes for a grand total of no more than eight kids.
• Trader Joe’s frozen croissants (that need to be proofed the night before), served with slices of ham
• Precut fruit to be served on skewers or straight from a bowl, depending on my mood the day of the party
• Packaged crudités arranged on a pretty plate to look like I labored over the accurately sliced healthy offerings
• Frozen petits fours that I’ll thaw the morning of the party
• Hot chocolate, which may be nothing more than heated chocolate milk depending on what time allows
• DavidsTea’s gingerbread rooibos (if nothing else, I insist these kids grow up on good tea)
It’ll take these lightning-fast young diners longer to eat the food than for me to prepare it.
I love an opportunity to set the dining table with our fine china and flatware for these kiddie affairs. It shows off food, even the prepackaged stuff, in an elegant manner. And I’ve found that kids aren’t capable of causing much damage to plates or silverware. (Salad forks and spoons are the only utensils needed for a young crowd who will likely use fingers for most of it anyway.) Where I draw the line is at using crystal stemware or my prized antique teacups.
If you have to use your good chairs, consider investing in some inexpensive chair covers that you can toss in the wash after the happy little Rugrats have devoured their meal.
A wise mother once told me: Be the responsible party you want your children to attend. Don’t wait for someone else who may not care as much to take that role for you.