“Hot chocolate is like a hug from the inside”
Food is the perfect icebreaker | There is no greater joy than the joy of seeing a small child’s face light up at something you have prepared, something, especially for them. Warm their tummy and you warm their heart.
More often than not, it is the little things, which will turn their head; therefore every small effort you make will come with some great reward.
A designer lolly bag | At my Chanel inspired afternoon tea, I made up little Chanel inspired lolly bags (their parents didn’t think they were so small) and yet the little ones loved them! I warn, however, that this did not prevent some of them from poking their sticky little fingers into as many cakes as they possibly could in the least amount of time.
Message to self: Make sure I set the table higher than a 3-year-old’s little arms can reach.
As a small child, my son always judged a person’s house by what was in their pantry. This was so embarrassing and yet fortunately he was young enough at the time for most of my friends to find it just a little bit cute. That said I tend to spend a lot of time with my head in the pantry, so maybe he is his Mother’s Son after all, or as they say “the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree”.
The start of something special | I never liked the sound of a step-grandparent, and yet that is what I am. It always conjured up in my head, pictures of a woman dressed in black (well I fit that description at least), with a long nose and flying around on a broomstick. So we start on the back foot with step-grandchildren because they never really understand where you fit into the picture. For a while there they thought I was their Grand Father’s Daughter, which I was more than happy to grab and run with … sadly they grew up and knew better!
The middle one of the three, started very shy with me until we found hot chocolate and let’s not forget the marshmallows. I found that through something as simple as finding what truly pressed his buttons you can become great mates.
It was then that our relationship with hot chocolate began. So now I look for great chocolates and marshmallows in the hope that I can please him with something new and exciting, watching his gorgeous and sometimes mischievous face light up with delight at the mere sound of hot chocolate.
Serve it up | The hot chocolate always seems to appeal to most young kids and it is always more than just hot milk with chocolate sprinkled on the top, you are also judged by how you serve it up.
Like the Grandchildren, Scarlett loves her hot chocolate. As she is arriving at our house she can be heard telling her Mum exactly how she would like for me to make the milk and put the chocolate sprinkles on the side (I recently found out that I did not make this 3-year-olds hot chocolate the same way the coffee shop does…she is such an “I” snob. It shouldn’t surprise you that she only likes pink marshmallows! She also loves our Alessi’s heart-shaped spoons, which sit on the side and I am thrilled her snobby coffee shop does not provide this same spoon.
Photo: Scarlett is just a little bit happy with herself!
No sooner has she filled the entire cup with the chocolate sprinkles than the chocolate ends up all over her face, down her sleeve and closely followed by the entire kitchen bench. She then commenced putting her gooey fingers straight back into the can of chocolate (and I remind myself again to throw the can out afterwards).
Photo: Mila is another story | always unable to break through with Mila because she has only had eyes for her Grand Father (my Brother). So I arrived with a babyccino in hand (and marshmallow) and not only did she talk to me, she wanted to come home with me! I am not sure why it took me almost three years to work this out!
Photo: Jake is still too young to enjoy hot chocolate and lollies and yet it does not stop him from eating the Alessi lolly jar lid (I am thinking germs, germs, germs as I write).
Find out what kids like and make it for them. It is the parent’s job to provide balanced meals, not ours. We just want to make friends and if that means they go home with a little more sugar in their belly so be it. They will go home having had a good time and you spare those constant remarks like “can we go home now Mummy?”
Special kid’s food ideas |a few good ideas include:
-sweet or salty homemade popcorn (even better if you grab all the ingredients and make it together)
-lolly bags (and something healthy to keep the parents at least a little happy)
-a chocolate fountain with strawberries and homemade marshmallow
-rose coloured water with fresh strawberries
-mini cheesy pizzas (see easy cheat recipe below)
-homemade fruit muffins (it is all about the icing)
-sausage hot dogs
-Oh and please let’s not forget hot chocolate and marshmallow.
Another great fallback for those unexpected visits is a beautiful lolly jar filled with a wonderful assortment of colourful lollies. I might need to see if I can superglue the lid … so that they last longer than a few nights … then again that kind of defeats the purpose.
Photo: Mini pizzas are always a hit with the kids! Another cheat idea is to buy the 2 pack pizza base from Coles (I am fast becoming a fan of Coles) and top with your favourite topping. Then using a cookie cutter cut out the mini pizzas and cook them in the oven. So simple and seriously tasty!
A note | Make sure you have a packet of gluten-free chips or others in the cupboard on standby. I had a child visit recently with her mother and she was gluten-free. Oh dear me, the bench was filled with everything but anything gluten. She was asking her Mother when they could go home! How tragic was that!
Short story | I purchased a small domestic fairy floss machine with all the coloured sugar to go with it. I thought this was an amazing idea to have on hand. Not only do kids get to eat the fairy floss, but they also get to make it with you. Only problem being, that it blew up on my first trial. Sticky fairy floss sugar is something you want to try and avoid. I still think the idea is a great one, however maybe next time I might purchase from a more reputable supplier.
Can you see their little faces … just as we think about these ideas?
If you can do it … do it together | nothing beats spending quality time with kids making food and sometimes eating it together. Tip: Avoid watching what the kids do with their fingers when making food. It will make it way more enjoyable when it comes to eating it!