Today's tweenies and teens are a little harder to entertain these days. They do not get that impressed that easily and will turn up their noses that does not have a bit of pop-culture to it.
One format for a party that is quite easy to follow is the show Minute to Win It. This show consists of challenging games that you can create from every day household items that are in your pantry or garage. You can actually get over 100 games for free on the Minute to Win It website. You can print out the instructions for each challenge, give the kids the materials and then put them through playing the game just like they do on this popular show.
Yet another approach is to mimic the shows about cooking challenges that are on the air like Cupcake Wars, Chopped and Top Chef. This is complex to prepare becaue you need a lot of utensils and food on hand but the completion will be worth it. You consider the skill level suitable for the age of your guests and then try to create the appropriate food challenges.
For instance, when it comes to Cupcake Wars, you can have your kids compete for the best-decorated cupcake. All that takes is a table full of decorations and icing and sets of pre-made cupcakes. You can also do a similar party that has to do with decorating sundaes. All you need is whipped cream, nuts, cherries, bananas and the rest of the fixings. The best thing about these ideas for food challenges is that you do not have to turn on the stove; no child risks burning her!
With older children the oven or stove can come into play. A really great idea is to challenge kids to design the very best signature pizza pie. Simply lay out the ingredients and have the kids figure out the best flavor combinations.
You can also mimic a reality show like Survivor. You set up simple challenges and then have the kids divided into teams. You do not have to have them eat insects but you can have them eat a weirder food like an oyster. Other challenges could include jumping through hoops, breaking a piÃ±ata and agility course work.
Of course always mention that there is going to be a challenge and food on your party invitations. As a safety measure I also always ask if any child visiting is going to have issues with nut allergies, strawberry allergies or any other kind of allergy just to be on the safe side.