The weather is finally warm, school is about to end and soon,
it's BBQ time! But hold on, you mean you might have someone that
comes to your party with food allergies? Let's talk this through,
so every guest that comes to your home feels welcomed and
I'll never forget a couple of years
ago, my husband brought us on a business trip to Indianapolis. The
company was having us all over for a company dinner party. I was
nursing my son at the time, so I made sure I brought extra food for
myself and my daughter to eat on the trip. To not be rude, I just
navigated my way through the dinner party based on what I could and
could not eat.
To my surprise, the hostess came up
to me and said, "I just want to let you know these are gluten-free
crackers, and this over here is gluten-free, so you have plenty to
eat while you are here." I literally could have kissed the cook
right then and there.
She proceeded to say, "I went to
Whole Foods and I told them I was having a guest over for dinner
that needed to eat gluten-free, so they gave me a tour and let me
sample all of the gluten-free crackers. It was fun and I learned so
And that, my friends, is how we
should make our guests feel when they are coming to a party at our
And why not? There is so much that
goes on in our minds that it is no longer enjoyable to eat at a
party with friends. Is it fair that we have to bring our own meals
to your party? Is it fair we have to eat in fear of being
cross-contaminated, knowing we'll be down and sick the next day… or
two? Or our child will suffer and we will have to watch them in
agony or suffer the behavioral issues.
The great thing is, now you can walk
into any grocery store and there is a gluten-free aisle. I do
understand it can be overwhelming and nerve-racking because you
don't want to buy something your guest will not like.
When I inquired through Facebook
about what party hosts would like to know, the responses were
sincere and honest. Here was some of their feedback:
"I want to know how to best feed my
friend and her son when they come over to our house."
"Summer party season is particularly
stressful for those of us with allergy kids, particularly the
little ones who aren't old enough to know where all of the
dangerous foods might be lurking. We attended a graduation party
this weekend, and of course, brought food for my 3-year-old who is
allergic to dairy and eggs. Naturally, he wants to feel included in
the party, too. We let him eat some fruit and veggies, but only
because we got there right when they were set out. Both trays had
dairy-filled dips in the center that had been dripped on the fruit
and veggies by the end of the party. Keeping condiments/dips on a
separate tray and with their own utensils is always helpful."
"If you are serving something that
isn't homemade that came with the ingredients listed, you might try
stashing the packaging under the table or somewhere else nearby so
that parents could check to see if it is safe."
"I always ask my guests if they have
food allergies/aversions when extending an invitation. This way, I
have ample time to plan alternate dishes to accommodate those
guests. Being proactive is the key. The sooner a host knows about
allergies, the sooner he or she can create a menu everyone can
enjoy. I like setting up bars, like a salad bar, so guests can pick
and choose what to eat. Keep each ingredient or dish in a separate
bowl, so there is no chance for cross contamination."
Here are some tips I've gathered and
some of my own to help you be the best allergy-free hostess
The common theme among hosts is to
ask on the invitation. Planning ahead is key.
If you are hosting at a restaurant,
simply call ahead and ask if there are options for your guests.
Don't rely on the online menu; it most likely is not up-to-date,
unless they cook seasonal items. Speak to the person who is helping
you plan your party so everyone will feel welcomed.
If you are catering your party or
hosting a picnic, call ahead and ask if there is something for your
allergy-free guests. For example, if you are having Italian Beef,
you can go to the store and buy gluten-free buns. If there are
cheese and croutons in the salad, ask for them to be on the side so
your allergy-free guests can enjoy, too.
Don't be afraid to ask for
recommendations on foods or brands your guests like. That will take
some of the guesswork out when you are planning your grocery
Accept the offer for your guest to
bring something to share, even if it is another pasta salad.
Don't forget the sweet treats, too.
One of my favorite brands is Namaste, which is free of all major
allergens, including corn. All of their mixes are easy to follow,
just as you would another boxed mix.
Label the foods at your party. Save
up some of those old wine corks and use them as label holders.
I have often learned that when my
friends make gluten-free goodies, those foods go first, and when I
make something to bring, there is nothing left over. I take that as
a compliment because allergy-free and gluten-free doesn't mean free
of taste either.
Have a safe, happy and healthy
You can find my healthy posts and
tips on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter and a
collection of my
Gluten Free and Allergy Free Party Salads. My gluten-free,
nut-free vegan pesto pasta is a hit every time!
Jasmine blogs to inspire you to make positive, healthy changes.
See more of Jasmine's stories here.
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