Throwing a princess party? How about a mad hatter tea party? Even young cowboys at a birthday hoedown need to eat. If you're not sure what to serve the kids for a snack or meal, consider setting out a platter of tea sandwiches.
Tea sandwiches (also called finger sandwiches) are a healthy, easy and inexpensive way to fill the kids up on something other than sugar. Plus, they can be adapted to almost any birthday theme.
Tea Sandwiches: The Basics
To make a tea sandwich, lightly toast one slice of bread, spread on the desired condiments, cut off the crusts, then cut the toast in half lengthwise. Fill the two rectangular pieces with whatever proteins or vegetables you like.
Tip: If you toast two slices of bread at a time you can work twice as quickly.
You don’t have to toast the bread, but it makes it easier to spread condiments on top and the sandwiches will hold up better if they need to be made well ahead of time.
Following those steps results in small rectangular sandwiches that kids can consume in a few bites. You could also cut them into triangles or make full sandwiches and then cut them into a shape that fits the party’s theme using cookie cutters, such as a tiara for a princess party, a rocket ship for an outer space party, etc. Or, as long as you don’t toast the bread, roll the ingredients up inside the slice instead, turn the roll on its side and cut it into pinwheels. Secure the pinwheels with a toothpick.
The tea-sandwich fillings can be as simple as:
- Peanut butter and jelly
- Ham and cheese
- Turkey and mayonnaise.
Note: Be sure to keep the sandwiches refrigerated or on ice until you’re ready to serve them if you’re using mayonnaise or any other foods that can spoil if left out, especially if your party is outdoors in hot weather.
Want to get more creative than PB&J? Here are some more sophisticated tea sandwiches that fit various party themes.
Fall Harvest Tea Sandwiches
If you’re throwing an apple-themed party, a fall harvest celebration or a Halloween bash, make tea sandwiches with a little crunch.
- Spread mayonnaise on one slice of the toast, place a slice of turkey on top, followed by a fairly thick slice of apple, then the other slice of toast. If your kids are experimental eaters, spread a bit of sage pesto on the second slice of bread (or make half the batch like that for the adults to enjoy). Delicious!
- Spread peanut butter and add apple slices.
Pretty Princess Tea Sandwiches
Any of these tea sandwiches would be appropriate for a little girl’s princess, fairy or other birthday party with a feminine, dainty theme.
- Spread strawberry cream cheese on the toast slices and then place sliced bananas inside.
- Spread the toast with raspberry or strawberry jam and butter.
- Spread butter on the toast, then place peeled, sliced cucumbers inside.
- Stuff the tea sandwiches with hard boiled-egg salad.
- Spread apricot jam on the toast, then insert a slice of ham.
Go Green Tea Sandwiches
If your young one wants a birthday party that celebrates Mother Earth, make sandwiches with the freshest ingredients grown in the ground.
- Spread cream cheese on the toast, then fill with cucumber slices and sprouts.
- Spread peanut butter then sprinkle trail mix ingredients on top, such as sunflower seeds, raisins, coconut, wheat germ or granola.
- Roast vegetables, such as bell peppers and red onions, then top with a slice of mozzarella cheese.
Under the Sea Sandwiches
For a mermaid, ocean or other underwater-themed party, make fish-filled tea sandwiches.
- Mix canned tuna with a small amount of mayonnaise and relish or chopped pickles.
- Make mini lobster rolls on toast.
- Prepare frozen fish sticks according to package directions then sandwich one in between two slices of toast with either mayonnaise, tartar sauce or ketchup as a condiment.
Hawaiian Luau Tea Sandwiches
These luau-themed tea sandwiches are tropical treats.
- Layer a slice of ham, a slice of pineapple and mayonnaise in between the toast.
- Make mini pulled-pork sandwiches using a sweet Hawaiian barbecue sauce and serving the pork on sweet rolls instead of toast.
- Make Waldorf chicken-salad sandwiches, but substitute pineapple chunks for apples.
If you’re throwing a barn-themed birthday party, think of ingredients you could easily find on the farm, like eggs and bacon.
- Make hard boiled-egg salad tea sandwiches.
- Serve BLT tea sandwiches, layering bacon, lettuce and tomato (plus a bit of mayonnaise) on the toast.
- Make breakfast-style tea sandwiches by layering a fried egg, a slice of bacon and a bit of mayonnaise on the toast. If the kids are willing, a tomato slice would make a yummy addition.
- Another down-home breakfasty idea: Instead of serving the sandwich on toast, put the ingredients in between two thin waffles. Fill the waffle slices with jam and whipped cream (or eggs and bacon), then slice the waffle sandwiches into tea-sandwich shapes.
Rock ’n’ Roll Birthday Sandwiches
Let your child express his inner rock star with these tea sandwiches worth singing about.
- In honor of the King of Rock’s favorite meal, serve peanut butter and sliced banana sandwiches. Heating them up in a panini machine would make Elvis extra proud.
- Make pizza-style tea sandwiches by spreading a thin layer of marinara sauce on the toast, and filling the sandwich with a slice of mozzarella cheese, sliced black olives and two pieces of pepperoni.
- Rock stars love finger food, so spread barbecue sauce on the toast and then place a boneless chicken wing inside. (Or just serve chicken wings, if you want to skip the tea sandwich theme for that one.)
- Make mini cheeseburger tea sandwiches with the typical burger toppings, such as ketchup, mustard, pickles and tomatoes.
Miscellaneous Tea Sandwiches
Here are some more ideas for tea sandwiches you could serve at a party for kids.
- Grilled cheese and tomato. If you have a panini maker, you could whip up several of these at once. Make whole sandwiches first, then cut them in half. Serve warm.
- Peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff--not exactly healthy, but a kid-friendly favorite.
- Peanut butter and Nutella.
For more tea sandwich ideas, checkout the tea sandwich recipes from Donna Pilato, About.com's Guide to Entertaining.
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