Hosting a party is a fun way to celebrate your child’s special achievement or birthday, yet the increase in food-related allergies can complicate menu planning. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 4 out of every 100 children have a food allergy, and it is becoming more common. And, adverse reactions can range from a mild stomachache to a life-or-death emergency. Fortunately, it is possible to plan a delicious menu while still looking out for your guests’ safety by using these simple strategies.
1. Request RSVPs by Phone
When it comes to children’s allergies, communication between families is essential. Requesting parents to contact you by phone will give you the opportunity to ask questions regarding specific allergies such as which foods to avoid and any symptoms of which you should be aware. As you speak with each parent, make sure to jot down relevant information such as the specific allergy and a phone number to contact in an emergency. If a child has severe reactions to specific foods, then let the other parent know that they are welcome to stay throughout the party.
2. Try New Versions of Old Favorites
Today, allergy-friendly menus do not have to be boring. Fortunately, there are some foods that almost everyone can eat. For example, gluten-free pizza is made using a special dough that is safe for kids with allergies, and you can control the toppings by selecting veggies and meat that all of your guests can enjoy. Some restaurants, even make gluten-free pizza options, so you could even still plan a party away from home if you wanted (and not have to prepare a meal to boot).
Gluten-free and low-dairy cakes are also options that can allow everyone to enjoy something sweet at your party. There are substitutions you can make if you are baking the cake yourself (e.g. you can swap out eggs with applesauce/baking powder; you can use rice milk instead of cow’s milk, etc.). By adapting your child’s favorite foods to fit everyone’s dietary restrictions, you can still serve up treats without sacrificing flavor.
3. Avoid Cross-Contamination
Once you have planned a safe menu, the last thing you want to do is cross-contaminate with an allergen. Before the party, place any known risks in a safe place. For example, peanut butter and candy-containing nuts may need to be placed in an area of your home that will not be accessed by the children. If you will be serving gluten-free foods along with traditional recipes, then make sure to use separate serving utensils, and wash your hands when moving from one food to another.
Keeping your guests well-fed is essential for ensuring that every kid has fun at your party, and no one should feel left out due to a food allergy. By including allergy-friendly food strategies in your party planning, you can serve a kid-friendly menu that allows everyone to indulge.