Instead of the same old delivery pizza party, why not take this fun school’s out for summer theme up a notch and host a kid’s top chef pizza party cook-off? Your vacationing scholars will have a blast making their own creations at this simple-setup, easy-cleanup shindig.

Make Your Plan

Call up a few families or your older child’s classmates to celebrate the start of summer with a pizza party cook off. Host it outside for easy cleanup and grab some paper aprons and chef hats online to really get everyone in the mood.

Use several folding tables (borrow or rent if you don’t have them) to setup pizza making stations and avoid crowding. Set up one table for gear and dough, one for sauces, another for cheeses, one more for meats & veggies and then one long table for eating.

No need to make vats of dough ahead of time. There are lots of frozen versions that taste great. Or, grab some fresh from your local pizza place and while you’re there, pick up small pizza boxes to use as “doggie bags” for leftovers. Maybe even hire someone to come do a dough tossing lesson. Just make sure you’ve got extra dough for “oops” moments!

Gear to grab:

  • Disposable foil trays or extra cookie sheets for baking multiple pizzas at once
  • Rolls of parchment for a nonstick surface that kids can label in pencil
  • Extra pizza cutters
  • Red and white checked disposable tablecloths for all the tables
  • Paper plates and napkins
  • Disposableplastic storage containers for toppings
  • Plastic spoons for scooping toppings
  • Red, white, and green balloons for decorations

Before you decide on the guest list, think about your oven’s capacity. If you’re making personal sized pizzas, you should be able to bake 4 at a time. To increase that number, grab some rack extenders to maximize oven space. A toaster oven provides extra real estate as well, and you can easily borrow extras from neighbors.

Another pizza-for-a-crowd option is to use pre-baked crusts that you can pop in the oven and heat toppings in minutes. Let kids get their fun with fresh dough by letting them make garlic knots, pretzel shapes, or brown sugar cinnamon sticks to bake and send home as party favors.

To make set up a snap, prep toppings in advance and store them in plastic storage containers that can go straight to pizza stations. Label the front to keep things organized and be sure to include a mix of kid-friendly and fun-for-adults options:

  • Sauces: Marinara, pesto, vodka sauce, roasted pepper spread, buffalo wing sauce, BBQ sauce, Alfredo sauce
  • Cheeses: Shredded mozzarella, ricotta, sliced fresh mozzarella, crumbled feta, goat cheese, shredded cheddar, jack, parmesan, gorgonzola
  • Meats:  Cooked crumbled sausage, pepperoni slices, sliced mini-meatballs, sliced prosciutto, diced ham, cooked crumbled bacon, shredded cooked chicken
  • Veggies & Fruit: Well drained! sautéed spinach, cooked broccoli, thin sliced bell peppers, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, diced raw onions, cooked caramelized onions, roasted peppers, diced tomatoes, grilled eggplant, hot peppers, sliced olives, fresh basil leaves, pineapple, sliced figs, red grapes
  • Spices: garlic salt, dried oregano, hot pepper flakes

Fill a bucket with ice for drinks like bottled water and sodas.

For a sweet touch? Make an easy dessert pizza made with cookie dough, small candies like m&m’s, crushed pretzels and mini marshmallows. You can either prepare it yourself, or let kids in on the action after they’re done with pizza.

Party On!

Give guests fake moustaches to go with their chefs hats and aprons and play Louis Prima, Frank Sinatra, or other Italian-inspired music to set the mood then get to cooking.

Explain to kids how they should label their pizza and work through the stations. For little ones at the party, you can also organize teams by family and make larger pies. As creations come out of the oven, display them on the judges table for sampling and award prizes for “strangely delicious,” prettiest presentation, or top 1/2 & 1/2 pie. Get as creative as you want and have a blast.

Encourage guests to sample and share and send everyone home with a slice or two of their favorites as a tasty memory of your fun party. Trust me, this is sure to start off the summer with a bang!

What’s your favorite pizza topping combo?

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