In this post: We have several food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities at our house, so we know first-hand about navigating parties. Follow these 5 tips for hosting guests with food allergies at your party, so they can have a great time too!
Throwing a party is about celebrating and bringing people together. But in this age of food intolerances and allergies, it isn’t always easy. You want to serve food that everyone can enjoy, regardless of dietary restrictions or food allergies, but the task seems daunting and you’re not sure where to start. Follow these 5 tips for hosting guests with food allergies at your party, so they can have a great time too!
5 Tips for Hosting Guests with Food Allergies at Your Party
We have several food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities at our house, so we know first-hand about navigating parties. Here are our five time-tested tips for making sure everyone can enjoy the party!
1. Ask, ask, ask!
After composing your guest list and inviting your guests, but before you compile your menu: ask your guests if they have any food allergies. If you’re using a Facebook event to invite people to your party, consider asking guests to private message you if they have allergies and restrictions, as some folks may not feel comfortable publically posting about their allergies. Asking allows you to know the severity of the allergies and to better plan not only your menu, but also your preparation methods.
2. Severity Rules the Day
For some people, food allergies just mean they have to avoid certain foods, so ingredient awareness will be the most important thing for them. For other people, food allergies mean that a certain food item cannot even be near their meal, meaning that avoiding cross-contamination as best you can.
3. Speaking of Cross-contamination…
If this is an issue, make sure you account for all the cookware, as in: watch out for what comes into contact with what. You won’t be able to clean dishes you plan on using for food eaten by the person with the allergies with the same sponge or dish brush you may have used for the other items. Make sure your guests are aware that they cannot mix utensils between dishes if you are deciding to serve it in some dishes but not others. If you’re concerned that guests might get forgetful and mix up serving spoons between dishes, you can discreetly allow your guests with food allergies to serve themselves first, so they’ll have access to the food before there’s a chance for it to be cross-contaminated. If the best option is to not serve anything containing what your guests are allergic to, you might consider buying a special meal for your guest or buying the food from a restaurant that can assure you they will use separate utensils and cooking surfaces.
4. All Signs Point to a Good Time
The most dangerous situation for a person with food allergies is a place where they aren’t aware what is in their food and what might have touched it other than the ingredients on the package. For this reason, it’s a good idea to place index cards listing not only the name of the dish, but also its ingredients in front of each dish on your table. Consider printing or writing down the ingredients on the card in a cute font, and using only a half of a side of the index card so that you can fold it over and have the card stand up on its own in front of the dish. Also place a sign at each end of the table asking guests not to mix serving utensils between dishes. Your hand-made or printed signs will make your buffet table look put-together and well prepared, particularly when you give the signs a little artistic touch.
5. Beware the Extraneous Garnish
Food allergy sufferers will tell you there is nothing more annoying than finding that a food item, most commonly a dessert, which is supposed to be perfectly devoid of any allergy ingredients, comes garnished with a food they are allergic to (usually nuts or certain herbs). We all know that it’s nice when a plate looks pretty, but consider what you might be putting on someone’s food before you place it on there for decoration.
It’s absolutely possible to throw an enjoyable party where guests with food allergies can partake of the food with the right planning and consideration. Sometimes allergy concerns mean we have to adapt the old family recipe or maybe even skip it altogether, but it’s all worth it to have a lovely celebration that bring us together with our dearest friends.
Shannon, this is extremely helpful.
It also lets me know the consideration you’ve put into every get together we’ve had.
Thank you! 🙂
Our outing tend to be less formal than other people’s but in our family we do everything we can to avoid contaminating other’s food and drink options, but we also try to take responsibility for our allergies and help the host/hostess meet those challenges by bringing food/drink that will meet those needs.
I know for some of my family knowing that they’ve cooked it ensures that the ingredients are as stated and they are more comfortable and relaxed about eating it. In other cases we will add additional dishes for people who are allergic or just don’t like specific offerings If it is simple and easy then the host makes the addition. For items more complicated, the person with the allergy who understands the challenge brings what is needed.
When someone hosts we try not to put all the burden on that person, we try to balance the challenge of meeting everyone’s needs. I say this as someone who does have an allergy.
Yes, it can be very tricky to manage. And yes, it does help if the person with the allergy helps the host as much as possible too.
Thanks for sharing these great tips with SYC.