Enjoy healthy party food
Plan a kids' party that ticks everyone's boxes - delicious for the birthday kid and his friends, while also getting a nod of approval from health-conscious parents (sorry, that's me!).
These parting gifts are often the worst offenders, and I've been known to secretly take out half of their contents before handing them over to my son. Instead of filling your party bags with lollies, include just one sweet treat and top them up with stickers, bouncy balls or other little practical gifts.
Convert this into a slightly healthier choice by using rye or wholemeal bread, as well as hundreds and thousands made from natural colourings. As for the adults, chicken finger sandwiches with some celery crunch is always a sure favourite that many kids will adore too.
Easy to prepare in advance and loved by guests of all ages, a platter of fruit is a party no-brainer. If you feel the need to make it more enticing for your smaller guests, try fruit skewers - perhaps with a marshmallow on the end if you think they need it. Serving homemade iceblocks and jellies made from freshly-squeezed juice is another fun way to include some fruit goodness.
Thankfully the frankfurters of the 80s seem to have made way for a far more interesting array of international party choices, with many modern kids quite happy to dig into a platter of sushi, wontons, antipasto, dolmades, spinach feta triangles or satay skewers. Fish fingers are a classic party favourite, but opting for homemade puts them in a different stratosphere of both flavour and nutrition from their frozen, processed cousins.
It often strikes me as odd that so many of us strive to avoid all added sugar and artificial colours during our babies' first 12 months of life and then, at their first birthday, serve a sugar-loaded cake weighed down with lollies and coloured icing. Avoid the glycemic overload and sleeplessness that invariably follows by trying to keep your cake at the more wholesome end of the baking spectrum.
While all this healthiness might sound a bit pious, rest assured you'll also reap the benefits. When there is a room full of over-excited toddlers tearing apart your house you'll be pleased you haven't thrown a cocktail of additives and extra sugar into the mix too. Aaah, one less tantrum to negotiate!