First, think about whether you want to take on the task of serving a full meal. You'll lessen your expenses and workload if you stick to snacks. It's totally acceptable to pick a time for the party that falls after breakfast and before lunch, or after lunch and before dinner. You can put out bowls of popcorn, pretzels, and carrot sticks, and serve a cake – and the kids will be satisfied.
A real meal
If you do have a party at mealtime, pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, and other classic kid foods are a surefire hit at this age. You can decide on one main item to serve, then fill a bowl with potato chips, slice some watermelon, heat up some corn on the cob, put out a bottle of ketchup, and you're ready to go. No need to feel pressure to create a fancy spread – especially now that the kids' parents won't be there!
While it's a cinch to pick up the phone to order a pizza, this deprives your guests of half the fun: rolling up their sleeves and making the meal. Many 7- and 8-year-olds love to cook. If yours does too, you could revolve the whole party around it. Buy some cheap white aprons and have the kids decorate them with puffy paints, hand out little chef hats, and then the kids are ready.
Pass out balls of pizza dough to roll out and cover with toppings, or make cupcakes ahead and the kids can decorate them with colored icing and candies. You can also set up a taco or ice cream sundae bar. Cookie cutters make perfect going-home favors.
How much food do you need to serve? Seven-year-olds are typically light eaters so you can probably count on one hot dog or one pizza slice per child. Eight-year-olds have bigger appetites – especially if they've been running around – so plan on several kids eating two of what you serve.
A sweet treat near the end of the party is still a highlight, but a traditional cake isn't necessary. Cupcakes, ice cream sandwiches, cookies, and ice pops are all great alternatives. Do have something you can stick candles into so everyone can sing “Happy Birthday” and your child can make a wish.