Many school celebrations are centered around high sugar, high fat foods, but this doesn't have to be the case. You can send healthy snacks or non-food items with children even if the school doesn't limit sweet treats. Choosing to send healthy snacks and non-food items shows a commitment to promoting healthy behaviors.

Why celebrate without sweet treats?

  • When kids eat high sugar, high fat foods, they're missing out on nutrition necessary for growth, development, and protection from disease.
  • Good nutrition plays a role in school performance and behavior. 
  • Healthy celebrations send a message consistent with nutrition lessons in school.
  • Offering healthy foods gives kids the chance to practice healthy eating.

Honoring a birthday child in the classroom

Kids don't need to have treats to celebrate. Find out what your child's class does to recognize children's birthdays. Some ideas for the classroom are below.

  • Have the birthday child wear a special sash, crown, or button.
  • Allow the birthday child to be the first to do each classroom activity that day and/or be the line leader that day.
  • Have a special show and tell for the birthday child. Birthday kids can make and present a poster answering questions about what they like and what makes them unique. Or they can bring photos or special things from home and tell the class about them. 
  • Provide 'free choice' activity time at the end of the day.
  • Plan special party games or make special crafts.
  • Include a physical activity like kickball, a scavenger hunt, dance party, three-legged race, free time in the gym, etc.
  • Teach a skill - like knitting or crocheting.
  • Play board games.
  • Have parent volunteers run different activity stations in the classroom (bingo, crafts, etc.).
  • Any children in your child's class have food allergies.
  • Your child's school allows homemade foods.
  • Your child's school requires an ingredient list for homemade foods.
  • Your child's school has a list of acceptable snacks.
  • The snack you plan to bring is acceptable. (For example, does the teacher prefer 'grab and go' snacks, or is it OK to bring a smoothie and small cups?)
  • Your child's school or classroom has any other rules about food and non-food items to celebrate birthdays.

Healthy food & non-food items ideas

Have your child come up with healthy ways to celebrate his or her birthday at school - that could mean deciding on a healthy snack or choosing non-food items. Have the child help prepare items if they need preparation. Use suggestions below as building blocks for creative celebration ideas!

  • Pencils, erasers, bookmarks, stickers, or other party favors
  • Fruits and vegetables - can be served whole, sliced, cut in half, cubed, or in wedges and can be served with a healthy dip
  • Fruit or vegetable mini-muffins (banana, apple, pumpkin, zucchini, etc.)
  • Fruit kabobs or fruit and cheese kabobs
  • Trail mix
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Yogurt parfaits
  • Whole grain crackers or chips
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Whole grain pretzels
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Applesauce or other fruit cups

Note: Think about food safety for foods that need to be refrigerated. If you won't be able to deliver the food at the time it will be eaten, consider sending it in a cooler with ice packs.

Featured Recipes

Baked Oatmeal Muffins

Preheat oven to 350 °F.In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Addoats and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and let stand five minutes.In a mixing bowl, beat these togetherwith a fork: eggs, 3 Tablespoon brown sugar, oil, baking powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and milk. Stir in oatmeal, apples, and dried fruit.In a small bowl, stir together theremaining 1 Tablespoon of brown sugarand 1 teaspoon cinnamon.Lightly coat a muffin tin with cookingspray. Divide oatmeal mixture into 12 muffins. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the muffins.Bake for 30 minutes until the center is set and the top is lightly browned. Let muffins sit for 5 minutes before serving.Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.


Create Your Own Snack Mix

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix.Put 1/2 cup of mix in small plastic bags for a snack onthe go!