5 Secrets to Throwing a Healthy Class Party
|March 12, 2014||Posted by Stacy under Classroom parties, Classroom treats, Healthy classroom treats, School parties|
Earlier this school year, I signed up to be Room Mom for my kids’ classrooms, thinking it would be a good way to lead the charge for healthy class parties. Since our school has no policy on food served in the classroom, celebrations tend to involve junky stuff like cupcakes and donuts. And as we all know, most kids already eat way too much sugary, processed food and don’t consume enough fruits and veggies.
Our first party of the school year fell on Halloween, and everything seemed on track for a fun and junk-free celebration in my second grader’s classroom. Several moms and I planned the menu and other parents readily signed up to bring clementine pumpkins, banana ghosts and whole-wheat pumpkin muffins.
On party day, however, an unexpected snafu: One student’s grandmother showed up with a plate of Rice Krispie treats. Not wanting to offend her, I placed them on a table next to the healthy snacks. When it came time to eat, I watched as kids dove for the marshmallow goodies. And those adorable clementine pumpkins and banana ghosts? Sadly, most went uneaten, to the disappointment of the moms who spent time and money making them.
Later that day, in the school parking lot, another second-grade class mom raced up to me and complained about how her healthy Halloween spread had been hijacked by a barrel of store-bought frosted cookies (“I couldn’t resist. You kids need some sugar!” blared the mom who waltzed in with the sugary treats without consulting anyone first.).
Not sure what to tell her (or how to handle the situation in my own kid’s classroom), I turned to the amazing School Bites Facebook community for help. I loved the ideas that were offered up so I’m sharing them with you here (along with one of my own).
5 Secrets to Throwing a Healthy Class Party
1. Create a food sign-up sheet Work with other parents and/or your child’s teacher to determine the menu for your healthy class party, then make a sign-up sheet requesting specific items or ingredients.
2. Serve fruits and veggies first Hand out healthy nibbles at the beginning of the party. Once kids have had their fill, break out the desserts (or, better yet, wrap ‘em up and send ‘em home–details coming!).
3. Send sugar bombs “to go” Politely thank any family member who arrives with a sweet treat that isn’t on the menu, then explain that they will be sent home with the kids. (When this happened at my second grader’s holiday party in December, I told the mom that we were trying to keep it healthy and explained how the clementines and bananas had gone to waste at the last party. I can’t say that she seemed thrilled but she didn’t argue.). Be sure to have paper napkins or sandwich bags on hand for wrapping them up. Remind students to “talk to Mom and Dad” before digging in. While this may put the problem in the hands of the parents, it at least gives them a chance offer guidance on whether and/or when to eat it.
4. Offer inspiration Last week, I told you about the Pinterest page of fun and healthy classroom food ideas that I created for my school’s PTA (see Creating a Healthy School: 3 Wellness Ideas that Work). Now, when it’s time to plan a party, I just share the link with other parents and let them pick what they like. I’ve found it an effective and non-pushy way to get other parents on board.
5. Ask for donations Instead of bringing in food, ask parents to chip in to help pay for the party. Compile a list of everything that you’ll need (from snacks to plates and napkins), then divide the cost by the number of students to come up with a dollar figure. Parents might even thank you for making it so easy!
I absolutely believe that there is room for sweets in our kids’ diets. But as I pointed out earlier, most kids are already OD’ing on sugary junk. Having healthy parties at school is a great way to curb their intake of empty calories and questionable chemical additives, while also increasing their exposure to wholesome nutrient-dense foods that many children could use more of. Of course, offering up both healthy and less healthy options side-by-side at a class party is an option. It didn’t work so well for us–but it may for you.
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