Every school year, there comes a time when we're asked to satisfy the palate of 25 or so treat-hungry kids! It might be your child's birthday or maybe a class party that you volunteered to lead during the giddiness of the new-school-year open house. Regardless, if you're like me, the "opportunity" rarely comes at a time when I'm feeling especially flush with money so, I wanted to find some inexpensive solutions and also spread the word about some good old-fashioned etiquette for providing . Here are some suggestions for classroom snacks for kids on the cheap.
Classroom Snacks for Kids on the Cheap
Let's start there. As you formulate your plan, simply remember A-B-C.
A - Ask about the rules. Most schools these days don't allow homemade items. This is part of a law, so the districts must abide. No more homemade cookies or cupcakes - everything must be purchased. So, ask your child's teacher about how items need to come into the classroom - sealed, individually wrapped, etc. Plus, take it a step further and ask about any special classroom needs or guidelines. Are there any students who have special restrictions? What types of items does the teacher prefer? Those types of questions are really appreciated by the teacher. Bowls of popcorn may seem like fun, but just take a minute to imagine having 25 kids eating popcorn in your family room. One word. Vacuum.
B - Bring everything the teacher will need to serve the treats. This includes utensils, plates, napkins, any serving ware etc. Just think it through. Think about anything you would need to serve it up. Never assume. Even if you remember seeing napkins stored in a teacher's cupboard, always provide more. So, be sure to figure this cost in your budget. The dollar stores are great sources for these items on the cheap.
C - Communicate your plans to the teacher. Just write a quick note about a week in advance. Simply state the what, when and where or how. What you intend to bring. Check if it is OK - when you intend to send it in - and where or how it will get to the classroom. Will you be bringing it in the morning, during the day, leaving it in the office, etc? Keep in mind that a teacher has few opportunities to leave the classroom, so make it easy for them to get it.
Also, remember that most schools require anyone serving any food needs to have a food handler's card, so don't just plan on coming in to slice up a cake and serve it. The chore could easily land on the teacher if you're not certified.
Now to the Goodies!
Think fun and simple. Think easy to hand out individual servings whenever possible. This is a treat for the kids, so don't feel like you have to break the bank and get the best gourmet cupcakes. A lot of it is all in the presentation. Kids seem to like the feeling of a party, just as much as the stuff itself. So, it's easy to dress up even the simplest treat. Here are some ideas:
Never underestimate the power of a Ding-Dong! Prepackaged snack cakes like Ding-Dongs, Twinkies and Rice Krispie Treats are inexpensive and often are on sale. They can be stacked on a platter to look like a cake and then draped with a little ribbon to look like a festive cake. The kids love these treats and they love the presentation. Give it a try and it'll be a home run.
Doughnuts are always a winner Kids love doughnuts, but for a way to cut the cost, try the little doughnut holes. It's really just enough for the kids, especially if combined with some juice or cider. You can tie some balloons onto the container or even stack them up on a plate. To avoid argument, buy the same kind for everyone and decide how many each child will get in advance. You will always be asked for seconds on doughnuts, so you have to plan.
"The Willy Wonka" Strategy These are just creative ways to arrange a mix of goodies. The favorite and most popular are candies of course. Personalize this to include whatever types of items you'd like. It could be candy, fruit snacks, crackers, and yogurt snacks - whatever you decide. But the key here is to make little individual "packs" for each child. The teacher simply hands them out and the kids each have their own goodie pack. I love to use paper cupcake holders, paper cups, even cut off paper lunch bags or plastic sandwich bags. Just put in as many little treats as your budget supports, but 4-5 are ideal. You can even make a cupcake cup with 2 or 3 items seem special. It's not about how much - it's a small treat, not trick-or-treat! Stock up on those miniature candy bars at Halloween time for use throughout the year. They are the perfect size for little treat bags. Arrange all the goodie packs on a covered paper platter and sprinkle again with ribbon. This makes the simplest goodie bag look like a prize.
The Fruit and Chocolate Strategy This is a way to make something a little healthier still feel like an indulgence for the kids. Most grocery stores sell pre-cut fruit that is sealed (as the school requires). Now pick up one of those bakery containers of the mini-brownie bites and you have a delicious fruit/chocolate combination. Just make sure you talk to the teacher about this one. It will take some serving time. Plus, don't forget to bring in all the plates, napkins and forks.
Silly Little, Wonderful Toys You know what I mean, the fancy pencils, bouncy balls, mini-modeling clay, glow sticks - kids love them. Combining one or two small treats with a fun toy is a great idea. Plus, it allows you to cut down on the number of sugar items you're giving them by tossing in a toy or two. You can find party favors at dollar stores, discount stores, and party stores. If you have time to order online, nothing beats for favors, crafts and dcor. It's been a teacher's resource for years.
I'm a big fan of draping colorful, shiny ribbon over things and also tying on balloons to ordinary packages. It's a quick, easy way to scream PARTY! Plus, just write on a balloon with a permanent marker with a happy birthday message or holiday greeting and you have a cool party sign. And, always remember; the kids are really quite easy to please. A simple, fun presentation of even the easiest treat can make the day for a classroom full of kids. Plus, if you keep it sweet and simple, the other parents will love you! It makes it possible for everyone to easily make their child feel special even on the tightest budget. Party on!
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