Case studies

Happy first birthday to Healthy Celebrations!


Pirate party


It’s one year since the Heart Foundation’s Healthy Celebrations book was released – encouraging healthy eating for children every day of the year, so we’re checking in to see what impact it has made so far!  We are delighted to showcase our early learning services around the country, who are putting the Healthy Celebrations’ ideas into practice for birthday celebrations and other special occasions.

Wonderful Waikato

In the heart of Hamilton, Lollipops Vickery has incorporated healthy-eating practices inspired by Healthy Celebrations. They have made birthday celebrations healthy and inclusive for all children without losing an ounce of fun along the way.

Now, the in-house cook provides parents with healthy low-fat and low-sugar recipe ideas, and parents are supportive of the shift to healthy celebrations. One family created an impressive birthday cake with 100% fresh, healthy, nutritious and delicious fresh fruit: watermelon, strawberries, grapes, pineapple and kiwifruit. And the children’s response? A resounding “yum”!

To add to the sense of occasion, they also introduced a special birthday celebration tray with a beautiful teacup, jug and flower vase for the birthday child. The children love this new ritual which keeps the focus on celebrating the child’s milestone, building relationships, and helps children with food allergies feel more included.

Lollipops Vickery Manager, Pam Smith, is proud of what they have achieved.

“We are providing a consistent message around promoting healthy behaviours towards food. We want to continue these celebrations to reflect our philosophy of growing healthy children who are competent and confident learners, healthy in mind, body and spirit.”

In the Heart of Northland

Heading up north to Whangarei’s Educare Hikurangi, Healthy Celebrations’ ideas are being used to support their philosophy of promoting healthy environments. Teacher, Sam Wyrsch, believes that children are better able to learn and develop when they are active and have nutritious food. However, her team noticed that many families were in the habit of providing a sugary treat to celebrate their child’s birthday, so they introduced alternative options.

“As we look at the child’s portfolio during our birthday celebration, we decided our tamariki could sit on a special chair or throne to give their day more importance. We started creating different thrones with our tamariki, now we use the chosen one to celebrate special occasions.”

This fresh approach to celebrating birthdays has been welcomed by the children, who love to take their turn sitting on the birthday throne. Families think it is a great alternative to sugary birthday treats, and say it has the added bonus of taking the pressure off them to provide a treat or cake. 

All heart in Taranaki

At the foot of Mt. Taranaki, New Plymouth’s Orapa Kindergarten hosted a fun ‘Pirate Day’ celebration as a part of their Healthy Heart Award. Using the Heart Foundation cookbooks and website they created a delicious and nutritious menu for their ‘Pirate Day’ celebration.

Morning Tea

  • A fresh fruit salad boat
  • Shark teeth (cheese)
  • Pirate teeth (plain popcorn)
  • Pirate legs (pretzel sticks)
  • Pirate swords (cucumber on a carrot stick)


  • Fresh minced pork hot dogs
  • Rice and vege pirate legs
  • Fruit and vege platters

The ‘Pirate Day’ celebration is a perfect example of how special occasions can be just as exciting when they go hand-in-hand with a healthy menu. Some families were so impressed they said they’ll be trying out these healthy party food ideas at home!

“It has been a great morning. The food was healthy and nutritious but presented in an attractive and fun way, which encouraged the children to try the veges, like the swords. The teachers put in a lot of effort for today with games and the food. It was awesome to be a part of.” – comment by Orapa Kindergarten whānau.

Our Nutrition Advisors are excited about the positive change that Healthy Celebrations has already inspired up and down the country one year in, and can’t wait to hear about more great Healthy Celebrations from Cape Reinga to Bluff !

The Heart Foundation’s Healthy Celebrations  book is available for order from your local Nutrition Advisor or for more ideas on how to create healthy meals go to


Learning about fruit and vegetables is fun and delicious!

healthy snack foods kids

Lollipops in Glen Eden recently received their second Pā-harakeke (Gold) Healthy Heart Award. Educator Melissa Williamson shared their creative way of enaging children in regular curriculum-linked healthy eating experiences through weekly excursions to the local fruit and vege shop.

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