Healthier Options for School Parties & Birthday Treats

by kimgerber on 09/25/2011

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Every year we face a snack conundrum around classroom snacks and birthday treats.  Our kids want to bring “fun” treats like frosted cupcakes and doughnuts, while we struggle between providing a healthy snack, pleasing our children, and let’s face it, finding the time.

This year I put together a list for our school of Healthier Classroom Snack Ideas.  This list will always be a work in progress but it is a jumping off point and a place to turn when looking for something other than electric blue frosted cupcakes.

(Recipe for Out of the Box Food’s Mini Banana “Cupcakes” – Pictured above)


Healthy Birthday & Classroom Treat Ideas

  • Apple slices tossed in cinnamon
  • Muffins
  • Cupcake Muffins (top muffins w/a little sour cream/yogurt “frosting”: mix yogurt w/a little powdered sugar, agave or honey)
  • Home baked cookies (which you can control the sugar)
  • Natural low-sugar granola bars
  • Dark Chocolate “dipped” Strawberries (dip just the tip for a chocolate treat)
  • Popcorn
  • Popcorn tossed w/ cinnamon
  • Natural fruit leathers  (fruit as the only ingredient)
  • Pretzels
  • Dark Chocolate dipped pretzel rods
  • Yogurt “Sundaes” – dollop Greek yogurt into plastic cups, sweeten w/honey & top w/nut-free granola & chopped fruit.
  • Individual Edamame packs (Some markets carry fun cartoon character packs in freezer section)
  • String cheese
  • Watermelon slices
  • Dried fruit (raisins, apricots, etc…)
  • Unsweetened applesauce cups
  • Strawberries, tangerines, grapes, cold pineapple spears
  • Fruit & cheese kebabs
  • Baked Tortilla chips with or without dips (hummus, salsa, etc.)
  • Plain potato chips (potato, oil, salt)
  • Low sugar Greek yogurt
  • 100% fruit juice popsicles
  • Roasted Seaweed Packages
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Trail Mix (made w/ coconut, dried fruit, popcorn, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate chips, pretzel sticks, raisins, etc…No nuts please)
  • Quick bread slices such as banana, zucchini or pumpkin
  • “Pirate’s Booty” snacks
  • Bagels topped w/cream cheese (mix chopped fruit into cream cheese for sweeter treat)
  • Fresh cookie & individual milk cartons (not chocolate)
  • Non-food treats such as pencils, erasers, stickers, etc.


*Rule of thumb: Avoid any processed foods containing the following ingredients:  High fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, frosting, high sugar content


Got ideas to add?  Please share them with us in the comment field below!  Until next week…

© 2011, kimgerber. All rights reserved.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

cory December 18, 2013 at 7:44 am

Being a single father and also being allergic to tree nuts, I have to comment on the trail mix recipe.. FYI coconut is a nut that grows on a tree!! If I were to ingest coconut I would need an epi pen and a hospital! Please never run the risk of serving coconut to anyone possibly allergic to nuts!!! I for instance LOVE peanuts but could die from treenuts!! Be careful of this please!! I’m lucky to be 39 and only have had a small handful of reactions my entire life, and couple of those should’ve been avoided if not for the neglegence of the person who made the treats! Like I don’t care if u turn those nuts to powder, we are still allergic to NUTS! I speaking there of a loved one who gave me a cookie loaded full of walnuts but thought I was only being picky cuz I didnt like the texture of them.. HA!


Ashley January 10, 2013 at 7:52 am

I love all of these ideas for snacks at home but our school systms the treats now have to be store bought you are not allowed to bring in anything home made. So its very hard to think of something not packed full of sugar that is easy for the teacher to pass out. Such as a bag of oranges isnt easy for a teacher to give to a bunch of 6 year olds.


kimgerber January 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I’m hearing about this rule more and more. Hmmm…how about individual bags of popcorn or even non-food snacks — fun pencils, erasers, etc. Birthdays at school can still be special and fun!


Sanzy October 7, 2012 at 1:07 am

i really love those ideas………..i usually use cupcakes as they are the most common ones..
but if you have any unique ideas..please do tell me!!!


Jenny Leren October 5, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Hi – we should also be looking to avoid soybean oils, which are the soy equivalent to high fructose corn syrup. Soybean oils, I’ve noticed, are found in the products that advertise “no high fructose corn syrup”. A holistic nutritionist shared that with me. Soybean oil seems to be in quite a few foods, and it is easy to think that soy would be good for us, but in this case it is really just a filler. Thanks for the tips!


kimgerber October 5, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Thank you for sharing this information!


Laura logan September 28, 2011 at 6:46 am

I was a prek teacher and I did my own parties. We live in rural Midwest. I decided that they had enough junk at home and wanted to do something fun and healthy for parties. We made fruit salad where everyone brought something and I made sure I brought harder to find items (even pineapple and blueberries are hard to find here– we talked about all the different fruit and the kids devoured it!! We also made trail mix with cherrios, pretzels, a few chocolate chips, chex cereal, etc. It made enough for everyone to take a bag home. The last thing we did was a fondue party. I melted dark chocolate and the kids picked what they wanted — it was a huge hit! Cupcakes punch and cookies were never missed! Thanks for all the extra good ideas!


Nancy September 27, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Banana Nut Butter Pops
Half bananas with popcycle stick stuck in and slathered with sunflower butter, then rolled in granola or gluten-free granola and frozen. Good when its not so cold, or maybe not. Takes a while to make a bunch, but so special and yummy and healthy 😉


Lyn H. September 27, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Great ideas. Last year, my daughter’s preschool class liked (1) mini-bagels with cream cheese, (2) small strips of sweet bell pepper – red, yellow, orange – colorful and crunchy! (3) fruit muffins, (4) cornbread muffins, (5) banana bread. I also brought apple slices, orange slices and baby carrots. For Kindergarten, we are not allowed to bring any snacks with tree nuts, cookies or candy.


Thippi September 26, 2011 at 8:54 am

Kim, I’ve been waiting for your post on this tehee…I’m in the process of compiling ideas for my children’s school about this very subject, snacks in the schools. Your list will help greatly. My daughter had a teacher who made homemade apple cider in his classroom for a party & the kids LOVED it, it smelled so good & they got a good education out of it. I was amazed when I took a plate of vegetables & fruit to my kid’s classroom last year & the kids scarfed it down…so it goes to show, present them something healthy in an appetizing way, eventually they’ll get curious & try 🙂 If you have anymore ideas send them my way!


Jane September 26, 2011 at 6:20 am

Great snack ideas here!
Unfortunately, my daughter’s school (and many public schools) doesn’t allow homemade treats … they must be store bought. Very disappointing but I think it’s meant to protect children with allergies.
I’m thinking of coordinating a art project for her Birthday this year instead of bringing a treat.


Sherry September 26, 2011 at 12:51 pm

We have the exact opposite problem, we aren’t allowed to bring store bought goodies because stores make both items with and without nuts in the same area and will cause cross contamination. Now having said that, my kids Love croissants and I don’t know how to make them. If you have a healthy way of making them I sure would love to know. Thanks.


kimgerber September 27, 2011 at 9:38 am

Sherry, I have not yet been brave enough to tackle the croissant! However, my kids love them as well and your comment has inspired me. I will begin learning how to do it and hopefully will be able to share on Out of the Box Food when I get the hang of it. Thanks!


Dena September 25, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Thanks for this list.
Typically, I make cupcakes or a cake for my girls, but this year the schools are really cracking down on “sugary” snacks. I still want to make treat time fun and these ideas are great!


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