Somehow this week has gotten a theme of parties, so in keeping with that, here are some tips on maintaining a food allergy free party. Whether it’s a kid’s birthday party, an engagement shower or a football tailgating party, you can do certain things to keep a safe party for both you and your guests. Allergies are always lurking, whether they be food or environmental. Since I touched on environmental in a previous piece, let’s focus on food. It makes it easier to know if guests have allergies, and it’s not unheard of to ask this, especially if you are throwing a party for someone else (like a shower) where you may not know all of the guests. Once you know about allergies, it’s easy to make some modifications.
• If you find out a guest has a food allergy, obviously it would be best not to serve that food, but if you have to, label it and keep it away from other dishes so as to avoid contamination. Have separate serving ware for that food as well.
• Provide alternate foods as well, so your guest won’t be hungry, left out or worried to eat. For instance, if you are serving a dessert with nuts, simply have one that is nut free (and keep the nuts away from it). Label it as “nut free.”
• If you are having catered food, be sure to check ingredients or have the caterer provide an ingredient list for you.
• If your guest with a food allergy would like to, encourage them to bring an allergy free dish to share. Let them know that there will be plenty of safe food regardless if they bring their own, but they may feel safer bringing, and more comfortable if they can share it rather than just eat their own “special” food.
• If it is a child who has the allergy, discuss with the parent beforehand their comfort levels and what they allow and avoid. Invite them to stay if it would make you (or them) more comfortable. If they choose to drop off, make sure you get emergency numbers and medication.
• Provide a variety of foods. Usually at any given function there is someone with a food allergy, diet restriction or vegetarian lifestyle. You can’t cover all bases, but providing a variety, there should be at least one thing for everyone. Some good choices would be fruits, salads with no nuts and dressings on the side, vegetable trays, deli type sandwiches your guests can build or grilled meats and veggies (watch for contaminates, though).
Remember, a big part of being a good host is consideration. You can’t please all the people all the time, but by going the extra step, you will please them more. Thoughtfulness and acknowledgement go a long way.
– Heather Legg