Want to throw an amazing cooking birthday party for your kid/teen?! Here are ideas about food, prep, favors and more to make a fun celebration!
As a kid, I was OBSESSED with all things cooking. I watched just about every cooking show known to man. Everything from Master Chef to Chopped to Cupcake Wars. And I loved any kind of party or hangout with friends where we made food.
Because of that, I have seen cooking parties thrown in a couple different ways. One year my friends and I got to make our own lasagna’s at an Italian restaurant, which was super fun. I also attended youth activities at my church where we had a cake decorating contest, cooked up a full meal, and made fruit smoothies after doing Zumba.
One thing I love about cooking parties, is how versatile they are. They can work for teens/children of all ages! After all, you don’t just have a fun party. You have a yummy party too! And who doesn’t love that?!?
Plus, sometimes kids are more open to trying new foods or learning about the cooking process when they are with friends. The birthday party setting is a fun way for kids to make memories, enjoy a meal together, and maybe even try something new!
Rules of Thumb for a Cooking Birthday Party
Now before I get into all the find ideas for a cooking party, here are some basics to know, no matter what kind of party or special event you throw.
1. Be aware of food allergies – You may want to check for allergies to things like peanuts, milk, or gluten. If you have party guests with allergies, consider changing the type of food you make, having substitutions, or inviting them to bring their own snacks. This works for really picky eaters too.
2. Have some form of supervision – Some ages are more independent than others. Depending on the age you have, you’ll want to decide how much adult involvement to have in helping them prepare things. Especially items that require using a sharp object or open flame.
3. Provide extra of all your ingredients – There’s always someone who spills or messes up, and that’s totally ok. Having extra ingredients on hand is an easy solution for these hiccups.
4. Work in a clean environment – Wow I can’t emphasize this enough. No one wants to make food in a dirty kitchen, so make sure to clean and sanitize both before and after the food prep.
5. Keep it to 1-3 dishes. Not more! – It may surprise you how long it takes to make the food. Keeping it simple with the party is definitely the way to go!
If you apply these 5 tips, your child’s birthday party will be great, no matter what food you prepare.
Options for Cooking Birthday Parties
Here are 3 different party options, and each one has it’s own unique style! All of them have their own pros and cons, so check out each idea to find what would work best for your lil chef and their party guests.
Host it at an actual restaurant/cooking class
The nice thing about this option is that everything is set up and prepared beforehand. All you do is show up. The unfortunate thing is that these can be a lot more expensive.
If this is an idea that interests you, try looking online to see if there are any local event centers that offer cooking classes for kids and teens. Sometimes they will have party packages for private events. Once you’ve found one you like, you can book a class by making a credit card deposit and then paying the final amount after you have your finalized guest count.
For these kinds of parties it helps to have a smaller group. Not only is this cheaper, but it also will help with organization at your child’s party.
Most cooking parties through a company will ask that you provide emergency forms and parent signatures for each of the participants.
Once you have that all set up, you can sit back and watch the birthday child and their friends have fun learning from the chef instructors.
Mimic a TV show set up
As I mentioned before, there are tons of popular cooking/baking shows on TV. If your child loves a particular one, you could turn it into the theme of the party.
For example on Chopped, the contestants have to combine a mystery box of 3-5 items into a single dish for the judges. Or on Cupcake Wars, they contestants add themed ingredients into their baked treats and decorate them to go along with the theme.
While I have never done this at a birthday party, I have had a Chopped competition with friends, and we had a great time!
Just note that this type of party might be suited for a slightly older audience (10+). Take that into consideration when party planning.
Choose a theme/cuisine to make
This last option is to plan a menu for your guests to make following an instructor. Either you could be the instructor showing them in person, or you could have “virtual cooking classes” where you play a video of someone making food that they can follow along to. Think of how people watch Bob Ross and follow along to paint, but with cooking instead!
I think it helps to pick a cuisine or country to theme your meal after. You could do Italian with meatballs, spaghetti, garlic bread. Another option is Mexican with refried beans, quesadillas, and rice. There are tons of directions you could take this!
Since you’ll probably make a few things for the main dish, it might help if you just have something easy ice cream or this crispy dessert pizza to end off the party. Or if you want kids to have the option to “make it themselves”, try one of these dessert bars!
Cooking Party Food Ideas
If you choose to do the cooking birthday party yourself rather than at an event center, here are some things to keep in mind.
First, it’s best if you make a dish that can be cooked individually or in a personal size. Of course you could have guests make food in groups, but individual items tend to go over better. Plus, individual foods allow people to add their choice of toppings.
Another thing, you might try to minimize the amount of kitchen appliances needed for the recipe(s), since those will be shared with all the guests making food.
Additionally, be mindful of the ingredients you select. Even with an older audience, it can help to avoid messy or difficult to prepare items such as raw chicken. Avoid foods with very strong, foreign flavors. Also note, that seasonal ingredients will likely be the freshest and cheapest!
Items to make/decorate
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chicken Salad Sandwiches
- Ice Cream Sundaes
- French toast
Prep for the Party
For those DIYers doing their own amazing at-home cooking birthday party, here are some things you can do to get the party set up.
The night before, you may want to pre-cut/or prepare things such as your own pizza dough or sugar cookie dough and buttercream frosting for fruit pizzas. Especially if your party has little kids, you will want to do as much food prep as possible by washing, cutting, and mixing anything that needs it.
On the day of the party you’ll need to set up stations for your little chefs. This can be for small groups or individuals. I suggest having a copy of the recipe with written instructions. Closer to the party you can set out the ingredients and even get out kitchen utensils they might use like bowls and spoons.
If you want to amp up the Pinterest party vibes, you could make chef hats for all your junior chefs. They will love having this or a little canvas apron to wear. These items could even be packaged into gift bags for each of the attendees. Other party favors you could put into a gift bag include a cookie cutter, cupcake liners, wooden spoon, or copy of the recipe you will make.
While it can take some effort on the front end, your child/teen and their friends will LOVE a cooking birthday party! They’ll make amazing food AND have a fun time doing it. So, plan to cook for your son or daughter’s next birthday party!