The Intense Pressure Of Taking The Perfect Pre-School Birthday Treat

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Birthday CupcakesSo, new school food regulations went into place this year. I’m not sure if it was a state decision or a nation-wide effort to cut down on homemade treats that might not have been made according to health codes. From September through January, I hadn’t given much thought to those handouts that I stuffed in a file months ago. The basic gist was that all food brought in to the kids had to be pre-packaged by a manufacturer or business. No more bunches of grapes that could’ve been stored in someone’s crisper next to raw meat. No more homemade cupcakes that might have picked up bacteria in a less-than-commercial kitchen. Yay for the makers of snack packs, I thought. Then, I realized that I needed to come up with a pre-packaged, easy to eat birthday treat.

Wanna know what my first thought was? Well shit.

No cupcakes, cake pops or fruit and yogurt parfaits. No adorable cookies that my daughter decorated herself. With every portion needing individual packaging, I’m stuck somewhere between a severely pissed off bakery and Little Debbies. It’s not a comfortable position.

I know that it shouldn’t matter so much what my daughter takes in for her birthday treat. A decade from now, she’s not going to remember whether all her friends liked their pudding cups or if her teacher was annoyed with a messy snack. But as I’ve admitted before, I have a tendency to go overboard when it comes to birthdays. It’s the one day of the year that everything revolved around my little one. And it’s her day to bring in something special to share with her friends. What on earth that special treat is, I’m just not sure.

I would love to be an immensely creative, healthy mom who could come up with a delicious snack that the whole class would love. But I honestly have no idea what would accomplish that mission!

Sliced fruit and yummy dipping sauce? Too McDonalds.

Designer cupcakes from a local bakery? My husband might kill me given the serious cash I plopped down for our daughter’s birthday cake this weekend.

Little Debbie? I just can’t bring myself…

Snack packs? It’s what I’ve done for every snack day since the beginning of the year. Not exactly a special day for my little girl.

Individual ice cream cups? I think her teacher might bar me from ever bringing a snack again. Think of the mess of a dozen pre-schoolers with ice cream!

Birthday treats have so much pressure. How to keep the school, the teacher and the kids all happy at once? I have no idea.

Honestly, the point of this post is kind of to ask for help. Any creative ideas would be appreciated. As is often the case, it’s possible that I’m making a mountain out of molehill. But I can’t deny that I feel seriously stressed about finding the perfect birthday treat for 12 pre-schoolers who won’t remember what they ate once nap time rolls around. At least it’s only once a year, right?


  1. Really?

    February 1, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    I’m sorry but I don’t think I can contribute to the creation of yet another entitled special snowflake (though it may be too late…).
    Since when are birthday treats in the classroom a staple?

    • Mel

      February 1, 2012 at 11:55 pm

      Since when is it a crime to want to do something special for your kid and her friends on her birthday? What, did your mom not do that for you? Sucks for you then.

    • Really?

      February 2, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      Of course there’s nothing wrong with wanting to do something special for your child on their birthday, this is why they have parties. Having to bring something to school and fretting about it as the author is doing is crossing the line into ridiculous…
      Why cause unnecessary stress? Besides, not everyone may want to celebrate your child’s birth.

    • Frances

      February 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm

      If that’s your attitude, then why even read the story? This is a light, amusing piece, she’s not obsessing over it or something. I highly doubt you contribute anything but negativity to anything you do. Grow up.

    • Really?

      February 2, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      That’s rich coming from you frances….thank you for that laugh!
      Have you seen some of your comments on some posts…wow..hello pot.

  2. jennyk

    February 1, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    would you be able to do clementines? not sure if that would be considered individually packaged or not. but sending clementines with individually wrapped chocolate might be nice. citrus and chocolate pair so nicely, making a yummy treat.

  3. JazziRay

    February 1, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Not sure about the package part, seeing as im from Louisiana and we live in Illinois where her dad is from, My kid has always shared Mardi grass with her classmates..King cake. Its a novelty, its something they can learn from..and its just good lol.

    • Laura

      February 5, 2012 at 7:52 am

      You should make the kid who finds the baby buy your child’s King cake for the next year. Ha! 🙂

  4. HD

    February 2, 2012 at 12:26 am

    Check out your local asian market. Get those chocolate covered poki sticks or something equally cool. It will be unusual, and pre-packaged.

    • Jen

      February 2, 2012 at 8:56 am

      That is such a good idea. Love poki! I actually came to the comments to suggest pretty much that except the nutella version that they make now. Going with the same vibe…do they still make dunkaroos?

    • Lindsay Cross

      February 2, 2012 at 9:25 am

      Oh my Gosh I haven’t had Dunkaroos in ages! I loved those things. And poki sticks are such an awesome idea!! Thank you guys all for the great suggestions.

  5. Vin

    February 2, 2012 at 10:47 am

    I live in the New England area and the Shop and Stops around here have these individually boxed cupcakes in their bakery. The designs on them are usually characters from Sesame street or just flowers and such depending on the decorator. They aren’t too expensive either..probably $1.50 if you buy a few of them. I got these as party favours for my kid’s birthday.

  6. CW

    February 2, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Right, because we don’t have an obesity crisis in this country due in a very large part (pun intended) to the overconsumption of processed junk food. Even if homemade treats probably contain a lot of calories, carbs, and fat, at least they don’t have all the HFCS, trans fats, and chemicals that processed junk food does…

  7. Candace

    February 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    We always do non-food stuff. Cute pens, pencils and erasers, playing cards coloring books or word searches. Too many kids have too many different allergies – never mind what is considered ‘healthy’. My daughter has Celiac and can’t have wheat/gluten. Even the pre-packaged treats you might send, she cannot have. Pencils & books are safe -they can all have them.

    • Lindsay Cross

      February 2, 2012 at 9:00 pm

      Oh my goodness, what an awesome idea! It’s the perfect way to let my little one bring something special without wading into the whole home-baked vs store-bought mess!

  8. Lisa

    February 2, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I’m a forty….something mom of three boys. And I still remember what my mom made for me to take for my kindergarten birthday treat….chocolate sheet cake with “Happy Birthday” piped on it. Nothing fancy, but oh, so good.
    And I agree with an earlier poster…I bake a lot for my kids using refined sugar, butter and unbleached white flour. I’d rather have my three kids eat a dozen of those chocolate chip cookies over any one store-bought, over-processed, full of chemicals individually wrapped snack (not saying they don’t eat those, because they do, but not as much as home made).

    • Lindsay Cross

      February 2, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      Lisa, I’m right with you. I can still remember my mom making vanilla cupcakes with strawberry frosting, completely from scratch, for my second birthday in Mrs. Fleck’s class.

      We made homemade cake pops this year that my daughter got to decorate (super easy since you just have to dip in melted frosting and and sprinkle with some crushed sugar crystals in her favorite colors), but those could only go to daycare where our provider trusts my cooking and doesn’t mandate pre-packaged food. Unfortunately, schools don’t have that luxury anymore. They’re forced to only accept store bought, individually packaged snacks, no matter what the occasion.

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