One of the mistakes often made when working with children is the assumption that you have to do something stupendous, marvelous or outrageous to please them. Clowns, magic acts and jolly jumpers are great, but they’re expensive and time consuming to pull off. These things may indeed please the children, but you can tone it down quite a bit and still do something they will appreciate and remember for longer than you expect. Remember, the children you’re serving aren’t jaded, bored and over stimulated with electronic gadgets, toys and weekly outings. Pretty much everything is new to them.
For example, yesterday we had a P B & J bar for the children (and the adults too, of course). Naturally we brought peanut butter, jelly and bread, but what we added is what made the children’s eyes grow wide. This is where you imagination comes in. You can add quite a few “goodies” without breaking the budget.
We set up containers with chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, marshmallows and bacon. Yes, bacon. It’s fantastic with peanut butter. Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it! We also had Nutella (a chocolate-hazelnut spread that generations of Italian children have been raised on) and honey. The children were allowed to have absolutely any combination they wanted. If you ever doubt whether or not they have imaginations, you will be sure after this.
To make your P B & J bar a success the adults have to do some prep work. Designate one adult to spread the peanut butter on the bread (eliminates a lot of mess and saves time when you have 30 people lined up). Have another one supervise the “bar”—the extra goodies. (Be sure there is a spoon in each container. Dirty hands helping themselves are not an option). Older children and adults can serve themselves, but little children cannot be depended on to use any restraint whatsoever. If you don’t “help” them, there will not only be a lot of waste, but heaven forbid you will find yourself holding a little one’s head while they throw up. (Yes, I know this from experience).
If you’re by yourself (which you should never be, at a motel, but if you are) ask a couple of the parents to help you. They will be glad to be asked.
Have lots of wet wipes available and make sure the hands of anyone touching the sandwiches are cleaned often.
Provide everyone with either bottled water or juice since what you’re consuming is sticky business, and have fun!
P.S. You can add your own favorite goodies to the mix. Raisins, sliced bananas, peanut butter chips and sprinkles are all popular possibilities.