Sofia Simeonidou helps us not-so-crafty moms find some easy ways to make cute and healthy birthday snacks for school celebrations.
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed when you have to prepare for your kids’ birthdays? There are birthday parties, family celebrations, birthday presents, and then … there are school traktaties, the edible treats that birthday girls and boys in the Netherlands offer to their classmates on their special day. This charming tradition can sometimes be the cause of considerable parental stress. What shall we bring to school? It should be something relatively healthy (some schools forbid sugar completely so keep that in mind), it should be fun or look fun, and it should be practical. If you need to make something for younger kids, you need to make sure that it’s safe to eat and safe to hold (think fruit skewers).
I’m not a crafty mama and I’m not attracted to complicated and difficult recipes. I admire what other parents make but I always struggle to find something fancy and yummy that will make my son and his friends happy. And his teachers, too.
We’ve put together a list of traktaties that are easy to make and relatively “healthy”. Some traktaties are not suitable for younger kids so make sure you choose something that your kids can actually eat. Also you can decide to leave the chocolate or odd marshmallow out if your school doesn’t allow sugar. You can sometimes replace these with cheese or coconut yoghurt.
Ontbijtkoek Cars: I love this one, especially for younger kids. It’s a slice of ontbijtkoek (literally breakfast cake, a Dutch spiced sweet bread) with two toothpicks on each side and four grapes or blueberries as car wheels. Perfection!
Dipped apple slices: Slice apples into thick pieces and dip them in melted dark chocolate. Add nuts if your school permits. Let them cool in the fridge for an hour. Older kids love this!
Festive fruit skewers: There are so many variations on fruit skewers, from the variety of fruit chosen to the addition of soesjes (marshmallows). Fruit and cheese is another favourite for older children.
Frozen banana or kiwi: Freeze banana and/or kiwi slices on sticks and dip lightly in chocolate. Or you can have whole bananas on a stick, dip them in dark chocolate, and freeze for an hour. You can choose how much chocolate you want.
Poffertjes and strawberries on a toothpick/stick: Slice strawberries thin and add poffertjes (tiny Dutch pancakes which can be bought pre-made and just need to be warmed up) in between. A true classic! You don’t need to add sugar when you have strawberries to provide the sweetness.
Coconut or dairy yoghurt and fruit: You can serve cartons or cups of yoghurt with colourful or wooden spoons and add a small surprise as well. Or serve with a straw for the milkshake experience! Kids love milkshakes and if you add the right amount of fruit (banana is the perfect fruit to add to make the shake sweeter) then they’ll love this, too!
Filled Ice Cream Cones: Ice cream is a bit difficult to transport so try filling cones with fruit and marshmallows or popcorn. You can also add a small toy/sticker as a surprise.
Oat cookies topped with yoghurt and fruit or sprinkles: A favourite with older kids, cookies are always well-received and can be the perfect traktatie for schools with no-sugar policy.
Caterpillar sticks: Green grapes, a strawberry for the head and small eyes. Although it looks fun, for younger children beware of the grapes and the small eyes.
Banana Race Car: Draw the road on whole bananas and attach a small car as a present. Great for younger kids, easy to make, and healthy!
Babybel cheese with fruit: You can cut part of the babybel cover and make cute faces. Then add a toothpick and a fruit for the body.
The cutest mandarins: Draw faces on mandarins. If you are feeling especially crafty, add a toothpick and top with a little candle to look like a hat! Healthy with a twist.
We hope we have given you some new ideas to play around with for your next birthday traktatie undertaking.
Sofia Simeonidou is a mother, storyteller, and journalist based in Amsterdam and calling Amsterdam home since the year 2000. She’s the editor of the online business magazine New Stardom. Sofia is also a fitness trainer, aspiring yoga teacher, and food and fitness editor for The Fit Sisters.