Birthdays are festive times to celebrate someone you love and let them know how glad you are that they were born. As a child, my parents threw me a birthday party in school every year until I was old enough to not want my parents at school. There was cake, goodie bags for everyone and lots of fun games to play. As adults we still enjoy birthday parties. We still want cake and goodies and fun. When you need to throw a vegan birthday party, however, it might feel a bit more challenging. The food has to appeal to both plant-based eaters and meat-eaters alike and since as adults, we tend to focus more on food than on games, the menu has to be spectacular. No problem! At One Green Planet, we have everything you need to put on the most delicious, plant-based birthday party ever – except clowns. We don’t do clowns. Read on and learn how to throw a vegan birthday party that will have everyone singing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” to you.

1. Sort out the Details

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A party does take some planning so the first thing you need to do is figure out the details. Assuming the party is happening at your home, you will be in charge of everything. Get some friends to help so you can delegate tasks and not run yourself ragged. It’s important to know how many people will attend so you can plan on the right amount of food. Decide if the party will be more of a formal sit-down dinner or a more casual buffet of finger foods and snacks. Be aware of any dietary restrictions, food allergies and preferences so that everyone has food they can enjoy safely. If you want to keep the party totally vegan, let your guests know in advance that if they want to bring food, it needs to be plant-based. Make it easier for them by suggesting specific dishes, beverages or other items they can contribute such as ice, decorations or party favors. Speaking of which, choose eco-friendly decorations, plates and serving utensils. Make a rocking play list with upbeat music, maybe a few songs by vegan musicians. Decorate the table with beautiful items from nature, vegan candles, and vases filled with edible flowers and herbs. Check out these videos for 5 Unique Ways to Cut and Prep Fruit and decorate the table with Mandarin orange flowers or a swan made from apples!

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2. Birthday Cake

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The cake is one of the most important parts of any birthday party. Everyone has to gather around and sing “Happy Birthday” and then watch as the birthday boy or girl makes a wish and blows out all the candles.  My favorite birthday cakes were ice cream cakes while my sister was more of a strawberry shortcake kind of girl. While you could serve store-bought cake, nothing would show just how special you think someone is than making them a homemade birthday cake. We have recipes that can satisfy everyone whether they are gluten-free, grain-free or raw.

If the birthday girl is a chocolate lover, make this Turkish Delight Cake, Special Dark Chocolate Vegan Cake, Devil’s Food Cake, Vegan Chocolate Oreo Cake, and The Best Homemade Birthday Cake Ever. Cheesecake lovers will drool over this Hazelnut Pumpkin Cheesecake, Raw Blueberry Cheesecake, Raw Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake with Peanut Butter and Coconut, and Raw Cherry Cheesecake. Gluten-free cakes include this Vanellie Birthday Cake, No-Bake Opera Cake, Raw Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Raspberry Cake. Or you can go classic with this Vanilla Birthday Cake with Buttercream Icing. Need a grain-free cake? Try this Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Birthday Cake. Instead of one big cake, everyone can have their own when you make these Alice’s Wonderland Vegan Birthday Cupcakes.

For people like me who prefer ice cream and cream cakes, make this Mindblowing Banana Chocolate Caramel Ice Cream Cake, Raw Strawberry Banana Cream Cake, Raw Berry Ice Cream with Chocolate Eggs, Pistachios and Cinnamon, Raw Layered Banana Ice Cream Cake, Raw Fruit and Coconut Ice Cream Cake with Brownie Crust and DQ Style Vegan Ice Cream Cake.

3. Bubbly and Beverages

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You may not think that beverages are a big deal to plan but there are a few things to consider. There should be a variety of beverages available to meet everyone’s needs. There should be non-alcoholic as well as alcoholic beverages. There is no need to have a full bar; one signature cocktail is enough. You don’t want to spend your entire time playing bartender. To know how many beverages you need, count on each person having two to three glasses of some beverage. Believe it or not, all wines and beers are not vegan. Check out our guide to Vegan-Friendly Wine and Beer Options.

My favorite drink is white wine sangria. Make Fruity White Wine Sangria by stirring together 2 bottles of vegan dry white wine, 1 ½ cups raspberries, 1 ½ cups nectarines, ½ cup fresh orange juice, ¼ cup fresh lime juice, and 1/3 cup sugar. Refrigerate until chilled. Before serving, add in 3 cups sparkling water. Add fresh slices of oranges and limes. Another beautiful beverage is this Watermelon Rose Drink. You could also make your own Healthy, Alcohol-Free Champagne to toast the guest of honor. For dessert, you will want to have coffeetea, and non-dairy milk available.

4. Festive Finger Foods

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Most people don’t sit still at parties. They mingle with a plate in one hand and a drink in the other. Make sure there are lots of foods that are easy to eat with your fingers and only take a few bites to finish. Serve these amazing appetizers: Vegan Mozzarella Sticks, Super Flax Green Bean Fries, Sweet Potato Bruschetta, Garlic Tomato Bruschetta, Ultimate Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms, Puttanesca Panzarottis, Veggie and Mushroom Mini-Bites, Vegan Cream Cheese Filled Tomatoes with Spices and Green Onions, Baked Jalapeno Poppers, Smokey Avocado Fries, and Savory Stuffed Pepper Poppers.  Don’t forget everyone’s favorite foods that you eat with your fingers: ribs and wings. Wow everyone with these Balsamic BBQ Seitan and Tempeh Ribs and Epic Vegan BBQ Tofu Wings.

5. Say Cheese

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Impress everyone by making an artisanal cheese plate that just happens to be vegan. Cheese plates can be made in advance and put out right before the guests arrive. Fill a platter with Vegan Cashew Dill CheeseVegan Baked Nut CheeseKick Ass Extra Sharp Raw Vegan Cheddar Cheese BallVegan Macadamia Nut Brie en CroutePepper Jack Cashew CheeseSmoked Vegan Coconut Gouda, and an Herb and Nut-Encrusted Cheese Log.

6. Have a Ball

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Meatballs are the perfect party food because they can be made small, they are easy to make and fun to eat. There are so many kinds of vegan meatballs to choose from: Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls, Lentil Meatballs, Swedish Meatballs with Rose Pepper and Thyme, Mozzarella-Stuffed Eggplant Meatballs, Chickpea Balls, Greek Keftedes, Buffalo Tempeh Meatballs, and Pumpkin Seed Cannellini Meatballs. Make one kind or make a few different kinds so people have a choice.

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7. Food Bars

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A fun and easy way to serve party food is to set up “make your own” food bars. Just put out all the components and let people make their own individualized plate. Everyone loves Mexican food so try a taco or burrito bar. Set out a bunch of different veggie fillings, flour, corn and grain-free tortillas, and all the toppings like salsa, guacamole, sour cream and vegan cheese. Serve veggie burgers in slider sizes and set out all kinds of delicious toppings. Offer different types of pasta and let guests choose from a variety of sauces to pour over their spaghetti or penne. Or how about a pizza party where guests can choose from lots of awesome toppings like olives, caramelized onions, mushrooms or avocado? For dessert, you can also set up a “make your own” ice cream sundae bar with different flavors of ice cream and sorbet, fruit and chocolate sauces, nuts and whipped cream.

8. Fresh and Fun Foods

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Of course you can buy lots of great snacks and foods already prepared but make sure there’s fresh food too like crudités and dips. Serve up this Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Warm “Vegeeta” Cheese Dip, Tremendous Papaya Salsa, Homemade Salsa Verde, Smoky White Bean and Yellow Pepper Hummus, Red Guacamole, Tomato Olive Tapenade, and Queso Cheese Dip. Scoop up the dips with these Lotus Chips, Raw Parmesan Pita Chips and Corn and Black Bean Chips.  Offer fresh fruit like these Grilled Fruit Kebabs or Raw Fruit Tartlets.

Have other fun party snacks that guests can munch on at their leisure. Put out bowls of Bourbon Caramel Popcorn, Vegan Goldfish Crackers, Healthy Vegan Cheeze-It Crackers and Sour Cream and Onion Kale Chips. Make your own Homemade Baked Potato Chips: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using a mandolin, slice russet potatoes into thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick. Soak the potato slices in a bowl of warm water for 10-15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry. It’s important they be completely dry or they won’t get crunchy. I actually put them in a salad spinner and then pat them dry with a dishtowel. Lay the potato slices on large baking sheets. Make sure they are in a single layer. Drizzle with oil or spray with the cooking oil spray on both sides. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through. The chips should be golden brown and still soft in the center. Sprinkle the chips with salt and any other seasonings (onion powder, garlic powder, curry powder, vinegar, chili powder) you’re using and serve.

9. Presents and Party Favors

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You may know what the guest of honor wants for his or her birthday but it’s always nice to give a gift that is handmade and edible too! Or you can make smaller versions to give to the guests as party favors. Everyone will love receiving jars of homemade spice blends, tea blends, specialty infused olive oils, flavored sugars and salts, gourmet popcorn or snack tins filled with fudge, veggie chips or dehydrated fruit. End the party on a sweet note by sending every guest home with a little box of homemade chocolate bark or truffles. For more ideas, see 12 Ideas for Making Your Own Food Gifts Everyone Will Love.

10. Keep the Party Mood

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The most important thing you can do when throwing a vegan birthday party is make sure that everyone, especially the guest of honor, has a good time. Keep the mood light and festive. If you have guests that are not vegan, the party is not the place to try and convert them or to be judgmental or preachy. You want everyone to feel comfortable and invited. Sure, if someone asks you about why you are vegan, tell them! Let them know simply your reasons for choosing to be cruelty-free. If they want to know more, they will ask you. Explain your position while offering them another slice of delicious vegan birthday cake. Their next question will probably be for the recipe.

Birthdays should be fun, festive and special. After all, they only happen once a year. Follow these tips for throwing a vegan birthday party and I guarantee it will be a night your loved one will never forget!

Lead Image Source: The Best Homemade Birthday Cake Ever