Celebrations in Early Years Settings

Early Years Settings are a fantastic place to celebrate special occasions and events, such as birthday’s, Christmas, Eid and Diwali. However, much of the food and drink associated with these celebrations and festivities, are high in fat, salt and sugar. We’ve therefore dedicated this weeks blog to bringing you alternative ideas for celebrating events in your setting.

Wellbeing and Nutrition Team Blog- Celebrations birthday cake

It’s normal for parents, staff and children to want to celebrate birthday’s in your setting. Parents may want to provide a cake, sweets or other sugar treats  to help celebrate the occasion. While the occasional treat is fine, when there are a large number of children attending nursery, you may find that cake, sweets, and other sugary treats, are being given to children almost every day! Over time, children will start to associate these foods with celebrations, feeling happy and rewards. This can lead to an unhealthy relationships with food and may cause comfort eating of unhealthy foods.

Accepting foods from home also poses a food safety and allergies risk for the children and staff in your setting. You can’t be sure of the environment and food hygiene standards the foods have been prepared in and you cannot be certain that foods are allergen free. We also have to consider that not all families will bring the same type or quantity of food for their child’s birthday; some families may find this uncomfortable or feel financial pressure to provide certain foods. Children may feel left out or that their birthday is less special if they do not have the same party foods that their friends had. It is therefore best to outline your settings stance on accepting foods from home in your Food and Drink Policy, so that families and staff are clear of your approach. Explain to parents that while you might not accept foods brought in from home, you celebrate birthday’s and special events in a number of other ways.

Below are some ideas for alternative celebrations:


  • Sign ‘Happy Birthday’
  • Children get to wear the settings birthday sash
  • Get children to create a cake made from playdough
  • Children get to wear a special birthday hat
  • Create a watermelon ‘cake’
  • Play party games such as musical status, pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs.
  • Children get to wear a birthday badge
  • Plan a special game or activity
  • Have a dance party

Wellbeing and Nutrition Team Blog- alternative birthday celebrations

Special Occasions such Christmas, Eid and Diwali

  • Special themed arts and crafts activities such as cutting out snowflakes, drawings and colourings, cards or colourful paper lanterns
  • Decorate the room with creations from the children or balloons, banners and streamers
  • Sing traditional or cultural songs
  • Dress up in a themed/ cultural outfits
  • Read themed/ cultural story books
  • Create a healthy themed recipe with children. You could ask parents to submit healthy recipe suggestions.

Wellbeing and Nutrition Team Blog- alternative celebrations

Got any other celebration ideas or want to tell us how your nursery celebrates special occasions? Tweet us your comments and ideas 🙂 

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