Celebrations in Early Years Settings

Celebrations in Early Years Settings

Your Early Years Setting is a fantastic place to celebrate events and special occasions, such as birthday’s, Christmas, Eid and Diwali.  Here at Early Start Nutrition, we’ve worked with lots of settings to support them in planning events, so we want to share some of our favourite ideas with you!

Wellbeing and Nutrition Team Blog- Celebrations birthday cake

Celebrating Birthdays

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 frequently! In recent years, changes in children’s diets has affected their nutrient intake, and many are now eating foods that are high in saturated fat, sugars and salt. Therefore it’s important for us to consider what foods you need to avoid and those that you need to limit (not provided more than once per week) in your setting.

What do the Eat Better Start Better Guidelines tell us?

  • Avoid sweet foods, such as cakes, biscuits and confectionery at snack time, between meals and at teatime, and limit at lunchtime (not more than once a week).
  • Check our our Puddings and Desserts blog for lots of recipe inspiration!
  • Include information on how birthdays and other special occasions are celebrated in your food policy. This will help to ensure parents and staff understand your approach. You can find guidance on writing your policy here!

Watermelon Cake by Early Start Educations Susan Lawrence/ Shrewsbury

Here are some ideas for alternative celebrations:

  • Sign ‘Happy Birthday’
  • Children get to wear the settings birthday sash and/ or badge
  • Get children to create a cake made from modelling clay 
  • 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
  • Plan a special game or activity
  • Have a dance party!

Wellbeing and Nutrition Team Blog- alternative birthday celebrations

Sports Day Snacks

If you’re looking for themed recipe inspiration for your, then check out our fruity Olympic rings creation!

All you need is:
🥯bagels (we made the hole slightly bigger)
🧀cream cheese
🥝a selection of fruit to match the Olympic rings colours (just make sure the size and texture is appropriate for little ones).

You can also serve a host of fruit bowls. We particularly love watermelon ice lollies. We simply cut the watermelon into slices and popped them in the freezer for a couple of hours.

Celebrating Christmas, Eid and Diwali

  • Special themed arts and crafts activities, such as cutting out snowflakes, drawings and colourings, making cards or colourful decorations, such as paper lanterns
  • Decorate the room with creations from the children and/or or balloons, banners and streamers
  • Sing traditional or cultural songs
  • Dress up in 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

Recipe Ideas

Nutrition Advent Calendar recipes – 24 festive Christmas themed recipes

Pancake Day

Pancake Day is one of the most popular celebrations in early years settings. They’re a great recipe to make with children and they can be enjoyed at either breakfast time, pudding and tea, plus little hands will love to decorate them!

Recipe Ideas

Delightfully delicious pancake recipes – check out our sweet and savoury recipes!


Easter is a time of celebration and is often marked by giving and receiving gifts, including Easter Eggs and other chocolatey treats. As children will undoubtedly enjoy these treats at home, we wanted to share some of our favourite nutritious recipes that meet the Eat Better Start Better guidelines.

Recipe Ideas

Easter recipe ideas – from hot cross buns to bunny pancakes, we have lots of recipe inspo for you!

Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to get creative and create tasty new recipes! We’ve pulled together some of our favourite valentine’s day recipes to make with little ones. Be prepared to make good use of your heart shaped cooking cutters!

Recipe Ideas

Valentines Day Recipes for Kids – these recipes are great not only on valentines day but other celebrations in your early years setting e.g. mother or fathers day. They are perfect for any occasion.


Halloween is often a time where children have a lot of sugary foods, such as sweets and chocolate. And while it’s fine for children to have a treat or two, many will have up to 7 times the amount of sugar recommended! We’ve put together some fang-tasticly healthy Halloween recipe ideas that are great to make with children, either in their childcare setting or at home.

Recipe Ideas

Spooktacular Halloween Recipes

Chinese New Year

Learning about celebrations like Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year is a great way for children to learn about other cultural practices. There are lots of ways to celebrate Chinese New Year from arts and crafts to trying new tasty recipes. We love creating different types of snacks and here are two of our favourites for Chinese New Year – Ox Snack for 2021 and Tiger Snack for 2022

Recipe Ideas

World Book Day

World Book Day is an opportunity to support children to read and develop a love of books. World Book Day is usually celebrated through fancy dress and various book-related activities. We also think books are such a great way of engaging children’s imagination and helping them to learn about ingredients and where food comes from. Here are some of our favourites books brought to life!

Celebrations in your early years setting- what about foods brought in from home?

You need to consider that accepting foods from home 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 can’t 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, and 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 don’t have the same party foods as their friends.

Use your Food Policy to 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.

Got any other celebration ideas or want to tell us how your nursery celebrates special occasions? Share you ideas with the team in the comments below!

Leave a Comment