Over the past few months we’ve been experimenting with throwing little dinner parties for our toddlers. At first it seemed like a terrifying idea: you know, herding cat-like toddlers, trying to get them to sit down at the same time, eat their food instead of throwing it at each other, etc, etc.
The good news is we are well on our way to coming up with some ideas to make a toddler dinner party something that is fun for everyone involved. I’d actually call it more of a toddler picnic rather than a dinner party because no formal gowns were involved but trucks, dirt, and dogs did find their way into the event…
It was a beautiful perfect sunny spring day in Colorado – 70 degrees! We knew we had to eat outside & watch the sun set behind the mountains.
The setting sun only burned our retinas for a few minutes:
In the way of food we had lots of little bowls of finger friendly foods. Strawberries, cheese cubes, hummus, and clementines are always a hit. Assemble-your-own deviled eggs were on the menu as well; I made these mostly for the moms but we all shared bites with our toddlers. Actually that’s not completely true – I tried to share bites with my baby but he craned his neck and looked as far away from me and my egg as possible every time I made an attempt. So I ate lots of eggs all by myself, and they were delicious.
We made a few more exotic toddler dishes as well. Such as firm tofu marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, and a little honey. It was so good…and two out of the three toddlers ate it. I consider that a success!
We also cubed and roasted some winter squash, then drizzled it with a sweet balsamic fig reduction. The babies seemed to appreciate the small brightly colored squares, and the balsamic reduction was sweet and tangy which lured them in even more. I am currently hoarding the leftovers to use in a salad with french lentils, arugula, goat cheese, and figs.
Another key to having fun at a toddler picnic was to let them roam around a bit. Isaac enjoyed perching on this little rock ledge and nibbling cheese cubes. Then playing with trucks and dirt for a while before returning to load up with more cheese.
Meanwhile, the moms hung out at the picnic table eating, chatting, and keeping an eye on the babies.
Babies returned to the table frequently to test out their sophisticated manners and sit with us like little adults.
But the sophisticated manners only extend so far…as you can see by the half-eaten strawberry thrown down on the tablecloth. Which reminds me of another key to our success – we didn’t really use plates or utensils. We had them available but they didn’t get used. The finger foods plus roaming while eating made them basically obsolete which worked out well in the end because of its simplicity.
The friendly dog was visited, and possibly slipped some snacks.
And then the three little toddler friends rewarded us by being SO EXTREMELY CUTE our heads almost exploded.
The picnic was so much fun, we can’t wait to keep this up all summer long!