Food Boxes or Buffets: A Guide to Planning Your Kid’s Birthday Party

Food Boxes or Buffets: A Guide to Planning Your Kid’s Birthday Party

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What is better, food boxes or buffets?

Birthday parties are a fun time for kids. They get excited about it more than they do with any other occasion. 

As a parent, we really work hard to make our kid’s birthday as memorable as possible. We exhaust all the resources we have, save for it, carefully plan every single detail, just to make things as perfect as it can. 

Though this task can be tedious and so stressful to some of us, coming up with creative ideas and seeing them come to life is a fun sight. Plus, watching everyone having a good time is a sight to behold.

A kid’s birthday party won’t be as fun as expected without one thing: mouth-watering foods. Yes, presents and games are mainstream at every party, but good food is always the key to satisfying all of your guests. Sure enough, you’ll never go wrong with it. 

But honestly, feeding a crowd is not as easy as it sounds. It usually takes a lot of planning, with everything you have to consider, especially your guests’ dietary restrictions.

This leads us to the question, food boxes or buffets? Which one is better? Keep on reading to find out!

Food Boxes or Buffets: Which is better?

Choosing the menu for your kid’s birthday party can be difficult. But it is even more difficult to decide whether you are going for food boxes or buffets. Really, which should you go for?

Food Boxes

Food boxes are a type of food packaging wherein either metal, corrugated fiberboard, or wood boxes are used. This type of food packing is the easiest to transport and handle at the same time.


Protect the Foods

What is good about food boxes is that it lessens food contamination since the foods are covered. Even when you leave the foods for a longer time, they are well protected and well kept. With it, you are far from receiving complaints about a stomachache, diarrhea, etc. 

More Economic

If you are on a tight budget and have to choose between food boxes or buffets, food boxes are a more economical choice. How is that possible?

With food boxes, you can control how much food each person gets. Wasting food is also lessened since you can just put enough food in each box. 

Although you have to spend on buying food boxes, you can save much more not just because you can control the amount of food on each box, but also because you don’t need to have a lot of food choices. 

Food boxes usually can contain lesser food, making it not ideal for putting a lot of different foods there.

Easier and Faster to Distribute 

Unlike buffets, wherein all of the guests have to go to the buffet table to get food, with food boxes, you can simply distribute it as it is. There would be no long lines, no choosing of food, no food waste, and so much more. 

Food boxes are easier to transport, making it more convenient when moving it into the venue.


The disadvantage of using food boxes is that your guests can’t choose what food to eat. They can’t avoid the foods they don’t want or can’t eat, especially when they have food allergies or on a strict diet. 

With food boxes, you are also not sure if your guests will like what you have. There’s a chance that they won’t really eat what you have served. They might just not eat what they don’t like and leave it there.

Food Boxes or Buffets: Tips When Serving Food on Food Boxes

Separate the Foods to Avoid Cross-Contamination 

Food illness is often due to cross-contamination. Regardless if you are serving cooked or raw food, the risk of cross-contamination will always be there, especially when you just put all the foods in the food boxes. 

When serving foods in food boxes, make sure that they are separated from one another. Use small boxes to separate them, if possible. If not, choose food boxes with dividers. 

Keep the Food Boxes Clean and Sanitized

Keeping the food boxes clean and sanitized is very important to avoid food contamination. Make sure that the food boxes are not used for any other purpose or they haven’t been in contact with anything, except for the food. 

Choose Sturdy Food Boxes

There are different food boxes available, so make sure that you are getting something that is sturdy. If possible, go for the metal or wood food boxes so that they won’t easily tear down, causing the foods to leak.

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What makes buffets better than food boxes?

A buffet is a type of food service wherein your guests will serve themselves. The foods are all displayed at a buffet table, and your guests are the ones who will get the food that they want.

With it, they have the freedom to choose what they want and avoid what they do not want. As the host of the party, you have to ensure enough food at the buffet table. 

Usually, foods in a buffet are arranged according to the sequence on the table. This can either be from hot to cold or cold to hot. 


Guests Can Choose What They Want

As mentioned above, guests can choose the food that they want with a buffet. With it, you don’t have to guess what food your guests specifically want for them. 

With it, you don’t have to worry about any of your guests going home hungry, so you are assured that everyone is happy and satisfied. 

There’s also a lesser chance of food allergy since your guests control the foods they eat. 

More Food Choices

With a buffet, your guests have more food choices. As the name suggests, you have to prepare more food choices, which is more expensive for you, but it is more exciting for your guests. 

Less Staff Needed

Since a buffet is self-service, then you’ll be needing less staff. With it, you’ll be able to save on paying people to help you serve the food. 


Food Wastage

One dreaded thing about buffets is the leftovers. With buffets, leftovers are totally unavoidable. 

There’s no guarantee that all your guests will eat everything on their plate. Also, with the number of food choices, there will be a lot of foods that will be left. 

Usually, caterers will box all the remaining food and give it to you. So what will you do with all the food now? 

Well, if you are generous enough, you can give it to the homeless. If not, give it to the caterers. Just make sure that the foods are stored properly to avoid food contamination. 

Slows Down Service Time

With foods, the entire process of everyone having their food is slowed down. This is because your guests will have to wait for their turn to be on the buffet table. 

They have to fall in line or wait for their turn, which is a waste of time. With this, the party time can go beyond what you have originally planned, which can cost you more when you are renting a venue. 

The Risk of Foods Getting Cold is High

There’s no guarantee that everyone will get the same quality of food with a buffet, not when you have more than a hundred guests waiting in line. 

Regardless of how fast the buffet goes, the last one in line won’t get food that is as hot as the first person. Buffets don’t work like that. 

The only thing you can do here is pray and hope that the food is still delicious, even when it’s cold.

Food Boxes or Buffets: Tips When Serving Food on a Buffet

Have a Two-Sided Buffet

For everyone to get food faster, a two-sided buffet is more ideal. This also lessens the chance of serving cold food for everyone. Plus, you won’t have to extend a few hours to the venue, costing you more. 

Have the Plates on the Buffet Table

If you have enough space on the buffet, placing the plates in there helps a lot. Once and for all, your guests won’t have to carry their plates with them. 

Another advantage is that it increases the chance of broken plates because a guest has dropped it. So, no extra charges for you. 

Why should you choose food boxes over buffets?

Have the Salad Served

Serving the salad simply makes everyone’s life easier. Salad on a dinner plate is never a good idea. 

Imagine the salad dressing mixing with all the foods on the dinner plate. Does it sound appetizing? No, right?

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Food Boxes or Buffet: Things to Keep in Mind When Planning the Menu

Regardless if you opt for food boxes or buffets, carefully planning the menu is very important. When you do so, sure enough, you’ll be able to satisfy both the palates of both kids and adults. 

Here are some of the things to keep in mind when planning the menu for your kid’s party. 

Make a Schedule

Ideally, everything should be scheduled and prepared two to three weeks before your kid’s birthday party. This way, you’ll be able to know or figure out what is lacking and still have the time to make it. 

Make a schedule on when you are going to prepare the party favors, what time you will pick up the cake, and the like, so you’ll be more organized when the party comes. 

Keep the Menu Healthy

It’s unavoidable to serve a few delicious treats considering that it’s a kid’s birthday party, but try to lessen in. Try to keep the menu balanced by serving lots of fruits and vegetables. 

Consider the Dietary Restrictions and Food Allergies

You aren’t sure that all your guests can eat just anything, so it will help find out if they have dietary restrictions or food allergies. As much as possible, do not serve foods containing allergens such as peanuts, eggs, shrimps, etc. 

If you can’t go away from allergens, consider labeling the foods containing such a thing. This way, your guests will be able to know which fold should they avoid. 

Divide the Menu Into Sections

Dividing the menu into the section is a good thing, regardless if you are serving foods in food boxes or buffets. This will help you satisfy your guests throughout the party. 

Dividing the menu means serving the guests foods at a time.  For example, you can offer the guests a drink as soon as they arrive, serve finger foods while the party is going on, and three to four main dishes to choose from. 

Also, serve the dessert at a time. With this, your guests will have something to munch on while the party is ongoing. 

Choose Non-Messy Food

Since it’s a kid’s party, kids can really get messy. But if you can avoid such foods, then do so, not unless you want to see a lot of mess on the chairs, tables, and worse, on the kid’s dresses. 

If possible, serve foods that do cause too much stain. This includes muffins, food on sticks, fruits, vegetables, cake, and so much more.

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Food Boxes or Buffets: Food Ideas for Your Kid’s Birthday Party

Regardless if you want to go for food boxes or buffets, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you are serving healthy and delicious foods. Still have no idea what these foods are? Check out the following!

What make buffets better than food boxes?

Appetizers and Finger Foods

1. Individual Salad Cups

The way you will present the foods will help you get the kids to eat healthily. So, put an extra effort into making sure that the foods are presentable. 

Sure enough, the kids will love to walk around, holding their salad cup, so why not give it a try, right? Plus, the adults will love and enjoy this too. 

To make things a little fun for kids, you can add cheese sticks as well. Then, customize the cups based on the theme of your kid’s birthday party. 

2. Mini Pancake Stacks

Who can say no to pancakes? Well, not the kids!

Mini pancake stacks can be a cute addition to the foods you will be serving at your kid’s birthday party, specifically on the appetizer table. What is good about these mini pancake stacks is that they are very versatile; you can have it either on food boxes or buffets. 

When making some, try to stick with fruit toppings such as bananas and berries. Do not add food that can trigger allergies such as peanut butter. 

You can customize these mini pancakes as well by using mini skewers that match your kid’s birthday party theme. 

3. Watermelon Cutouts

Another good food that will help you set the mood of everyone is watermelon cuts. Watermelon cuts are perfect for either food boxes or buffets too. 

These cutouts are very easy to make and are really very versatile. You can simply use cookie cutters to come out with different shapes, or you can spell the name of your guests, put them on a skewer, and the kids will be delighted for sure. 

Another good idea when serving watermelon cuts is to cut out watermelons based on your child’s age. 

If a watermelon is not available, cantaloupe or honeydew are good options. 

4. Dinosaur Deviled Eggs

Since it’s a kid’s party, allow the kids to indulge in fun, even with the foods you will be serving. What about some dinosaur deviled eggs for them?

Whipping up these colorful deviled eggs is exactly one of the best ways to add some protein to your appetizers. 

If you plan to have this one, make sure that you prepare it ahead of time since the eggs’ dyed effect requires you to soak them overnight. 

Dinosaur deviled eggs will fit every party, regardless of the theme, since you can simply change the color that you’ll be using, and voila! You have something that the kids will surely enjoy already. 

5. Fairy Bread

If you are from Australia, then most probably, you are familiar with what fairy bread is. Fairy bread is an Australian favorite that makes a good appetizer too. 

Fairy bread is made up of white bread, butter, and sprinkles. But since it’s a kid’s party, you can make things a little healthier for the kids if you want. 

To do this, start with spreading cream cheese or sun butter on a bread slice. Cut the piece of bread to your preferred size. Cut another one and place it on top of the bread with spread. 

Finish off by adding sprinkles or nonpareils that match what the party’s theme is. 

6. Fruit Skewers

If there’s one food that you’ll never go wrong – it’s fruits. Fruits are very nutritious and versatile, making it a good addition to your appetizer line up. 

Fruits skewers are another simple yet healthy option that you can serve at your kid’s party. They are not just easy to make, but definitely, customizing them won’t make you sweat at all too. 

For example, you can put googly eyes on the strawberries for a fun and cute output. If not, you can cut out fruits into different shapes and alternately put them on skewers. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using food boxes?


1. Lion Dip

Lions are not as scary as they are, not when they can actually be a fantastic treat to kids. 

Place a premade bowl of hummus on the center of a large bowl and slice up some veggies to help you create the face of the lion. You can use carrots, bell peppers, or cucumbers here. 

2. Veggie Train Dip

The veggie trip dip is a fun and exciting way to get the attention of the little kids. 

This veggie train dip is made of bell peppers as the train cars and slices of cucumber as the wheels. Then you can fill the pepper cars with the vegetable of your choice. You can finish it up with hummus or any other kid-friendly dip. 

3. Unicorn Poop Veggie Dips

If your kid’s party is unicorn-themes, then this one will complete the fun. Besides, unicorn deeps are all over the internet. The thing is, these are actually not a healthy food choice. 

But worry not, you can always tweak things up for a healthier version by using yogurt and chopping out veggies to dip. 

You can also change the colors to match the theme of the party. 

Healthy Main Dishes that are Perfect for Food Boxes or Buffets

1. Sandwich Wheels

Food boxes or buffets? Regardless of what you choose, sandwich wheels are one of the best foods to serve at your kid’s birthday party.

Usually, sandwich wheels are made of cheeses and Italian meats. But if Italian meats don’t go within your budget, you can always change it with anything. Yes, anything, including ham, turkey, or even avocado spread. 

Simply roll the filling of your choice in a flour tortilla, and you already have a yummy and treat for all of your guests. 

2. Mac ‘n Cheese Bites

Who doesn’t know about mac ‘n cheese? Who hasn’t tried it anyway?

Mac ‘n cheese is a go-to food that kids can’t resist, most especially when you are making it more exciting for them.

Unlike the traditional mac ‘n cheese. These mac ‘n cheese bites are perfect for kids since they can carry it around. So, go ahead and create a portable, party-friendly version of this party staple. 

3. Sandwich Skewers

If there are fruit skewers, then sandwich skewers also exist. Imagine eating your sandwich on a skewer. Sounds fun, right? Plus, it’s less messy too!

Sandwich skewers are so easy to make. You can mix up any of your favorite cheeses and deli meats and create different skewers that both kids and adults will enjoy. 

4. Pizza Pinwheels

Pizza pinwheels are ideal for either food boxes or buffets because they are less messy when served. 

Instead of ordering regular pizzas that are big enough for kids to carry around, these pizza wheels will make the kids’ party experience one step ahead. 

If you have the time, then you can make the pizza dough from scratch. If you don’t, then you can buy a pre-made one, and yes, you don’t have to feel guilty about it. 

5. Cheesy Patty Burgers

Mini burgers are the perfect size for those little hands and are delicious enough to resist either kids or adults. Plus, they fit either food boxes or buffets too. 

You can make cheesy patty burgers that are really to die for. To make it more healthy, add up vegetables and pickles, and your good to go already. 

Party Desserts for Either Food Boxes or Buffets

1. Apple Fruit Donuts

Apple fruit donuts are a colorful addition to the array of foods you can offer to your guests. Plus, they are as fun to eat as regular ones. 

To make apple fruit donuts, slice the apples horizontally then, cut out the center of the apple slices. Top them up with yogurt and sprinkles. 

To make apple fruit donuts healthier, use chopped berries as toppings. 

2. Galaxy Ice Cream

Ice cream is an excellent dessert to serve, most especially when the weather is hot. 

Making a galaxy ice cream isn’t really that difficult. All you have to do is switch up the colors and finish it up with some sprinkles. 

If you have a theme, then you can match the colors of the ice cream with it. 

3. Cotton Candy Popcorn

Colors… something that we all love. Cotton candy popcorn, anyone?

Cotton candy popcorn is the perfect blend of sweet and salty, which will definitely make the kids drool into the dessert table. 

Cotton candy popcorn is very flexible. You can choose the color based on the theme of the party. If not, party-themes cps for these cotton candy popcorn can do the trick. 

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Preparing for a kid’s party isn’t an easy task. It can drown and overwhelm you with all the things to prepare and people to contact. But it can be a lot easier if you know where you are heading. 

One of the first steps you can do to help you get directed is by deciding whether you’ll go for food boxes or buffets. But regardless of what you choose, at the end of the day, what matters is that your guests are happy and satisfied. So, make sure that you know what will make them happy – good food is the key. 

Related Questions

What is better, food boxes or buffets?

Both food boxes and buffets have advantages and disadvantages, as mentioned above. If you prefer a quick party, then food boxes are perfect for you. But if you choose a more formal one, then go for buffets. 

What is commonly used in a kid’s birthday party, food boxes, or buffets?

Usually, food boxes are used in a kid’s birthday party, most especially when it comes to the foods for the kids. This is because food boxes are easier and are more organized to distribute, and buffets are not exactly for kids. 

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