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Alternatives to Cupcakes as Birthday Treats

Updated on August 19, 2012
One of many 'cakes' we enjoyed for my son's birthday.
One of many 'cakes' we enjoyed for my son's birthday. | Source

The Birthday Countdown

No time in a child's life is packed with more anticipation than the countdown to a birthday. Never mind the excitement over the few preceding days when all conversations seem to lead back to one and the same question: "I wonder what kind of birthday cake I will have"?

Preschool aged children, by and large, love all the attention and all the sweets. We often see them wearing special birthday crowns and literally receiving the 'royal treatment' that one time of year. We shower them with gifts and parties, and make special exceptions as lollipops and ice cream cones creep their way into the day.

Still my idea of a good birthday dinner:  cream of wheat decorated with an apricot jelly face.
Still my idea of a good birthday dinner: cream of wheat decorated with an apricot jelly face. | Source

Birthday Celebrations of Yesterday and of Today

Some things never seem to change. Growing up, I remember it was a big thrill to be able to pick what we would eat for dinner on our birthday. In my case, I always chose something sweet, like pancakes or french toast. And truth be told, I still love a good breakfast for dinner.

But growing up, things were also a bit simpler. We had one chance to celebrate our birthday, usually at home and in the company of our family and a handful of friends. We played a few games, like 'musical chairs' and 'pin the tail on the donkey', followed by singing and a slice of birthday cake. Goodie bags were an entirely unknown entity.

These days, I find the celebrations can be endless. It is not uncommon to celebrate once with family, twice with friends and three times at school. And with every turn, a renewed reason to enjoy a birthday treat. The kids love it, the adults begin to cringe. Especially during what we like to call 'the birthday season' - somehow many of those we know seem to turn a year older during the months of August through October, with the final blowout being Halloween itself.

Two older brothers looking on as little brother gets his turn blowing out the candle on a cupcake.  Shall I admit that this was after the cake we had the day before when we celebrated early with our family?
Two older brothers looking on as little brother gets his turn blowing out the candle on a cupcake. Shall I admit that this was after the cake we had the day before when we celebrated early with our family? | Source

Alternatives to Cupcakes

At my son's co-op preschool, we have been encouraged by the teachers to think creatively when celebrating birthdays, keeping healthy snacking in mind. Sharing a healthy snack on your child's special day does not mean that it has to be a boring snack, as presentation is key. If this argument does not have you convinced to embrace a change, try thinking of how many times your kids have licked the icing off their cupcakes just to leave the rest behind. Traditional cupcakes are not only less than healthy but also more than wasteful.

Why not try one of the following fresh and creative ideas next time you celebrate your child's birthday at school?

  • Fruit kebabs - shaped like a caterpillar
  • Fruit “fondue” - fresh fruit, like banana and strawberries, and chocolate dipping sauce
  • Yogurt parfait - yogurt, honey, fresh fruit, granola; layered in clear plastic cups; add an umbrella for decoration
  • Fruit/vegetable muffins – apple, carrot, zucchini, raspberry, or blueberry; especially delicious when served warm
  • Veggies and dip – sugar snap peas, sweet pepper, carrots, celery, cucumber, etc. served with hummus, ranch dressing, sesame dressing, etc.
  • Mini scones with jam and cream
  • Homemade fruit or frozen yogurt popsicles
  • Fruit “sundae” – fresh fruit, berry sauce, toasted coconut, whipped cream
  • Yogurt swirl with dippers - swirl fresh mashed berries into yogurt; toasted raisin bread or cinnamon toast cut into strips for dipping
  • Tea sandwiches – cream cheese and jam; cut into small pieces using large cookie cutters in the shape of flowers, stars, footballs, etc.
  • Strawberry “shortcake” – mini pancakes, cut strawberries and whipped cream
  • Finally, your child’s favorite healthy snack food – sweet or savory


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    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      I love these ideas! Cupcakes are fun, but with the focus on health in schools and the constant "threat" of allergies, these are right on the money. Voted up and useful!


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