Buffets let teens decide what they want to eat at a party.

Teen Friendly Buffet Ideas

by Zora Hughes

Preparing food for a teen party or event can present a challenge because teens are often finicky about what they like to eat. Setting up a buffet is often ideal when dealing with teens, as they can get up and pick and choose what they want, instead of wasting food items they don't. Enlist your own teen to help you choose teen-friendly buffet foods that appeal to his friends.

1. Appetizers

Serve a buffet of finger-friendly appetizers that isn't childish, but also isn't overly sophisticated fare, which could turn teens off. You can serve mini meatballs on skewers, boneless chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, bite-sized mini bagel pizzas and potato skins. Depending on the theme of the event, you might want to serve a particular ethnic food, such as Italian or Mexican. You can still find plenty of teen-friendly appetizers if you want to stick to a theme. For example, if you're doing Mexican food, you can serve taquitos, mini hard tacos, stuffed jalapeno poppers and mini tostadas.

2. Build-It-Yourself Meals

For a twist on the classic buffet offerings, create a buffet of toppings and additions so that the teens can customize their main dishes. If you are hosting a barbecue and preparing hot dogs and hamburgers, create a buffet with ketchup, several types of mustard, coleslaw options, a few kinds of pickles, fresh slice tomatoes and lettuce. If you are serving up baked potatoes, include a buffet of sour cream, different types of grated cheese, freshly chopped chives, spicy and mild salsas, garlic butter and chili. You might also do a salad buffet with a full range of toppings that include a variety of fresh greens, grilled chicken and shrimp, cheese, olives, tomato and cucumber slices, sprouts, croutons and several dressings.

3. Snack and Dipping Buffets

You can have teens customize light party snacks as well. For a movie party, for example, you could set up a popcorn buffet with plain, butter or kettle corn options. The buffet could include a variety of sweet and savory toppings such as chocolate and caramel sauce, candy pieces, cinnamon, garlic powder, chili powder, lime juice, black pepper and even bacon bits. You could also have a chips and dips buffet with a wide variety of chips from potato chips to tortilla chips and dips such as ranch, French onion, queso, hummus and salsa. Serve the dips in small, individual plastic cups to avoid the dilemma of double-dipping.

4. Dessert Buffets

If you decide to do a dessert buffet, provide plenty of small plates and a variety of easy-to-handle desserts. Include an assortment of cookies, cupcakes, brownies and cheesecake bars. Cake pops -- bite-sized balls of cake coated in chocolate and stuck on a lollipop stick -- are also popular with teens and are easily portable. A chocolate fountain where the teens can dip strawberries, bananas, apples and even pound cake is both beautiful and fun. You can also offer custom dessert options such as an ice cream bar with toppings to make ice cream sundaes, or an ice cream sandwich bar, where the teens can choose the types of cookies and ice cream they want to put together. A candy buffet where teens can customize their own candy goody bags is another option.

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