Food Allergy Etiquette for Birthday Parties
With the rise of numerous food allergies as of late, entertaining for children’s birthday parties can be overwhelming, and even scary. The last thing anyone wants to deal with is a guest having an allergic reaction to something you’re serving on what is supposed to be a happy day for your child. With that in mind below you’ll find some food allergy etiquette tips you can use for upcoming birthday parties you may be playing host at.
Address it at the outset
As a courtesy, on the invitations you send out, ask people to let you know if their children have any allergies that you should be aware of. By asking beforehand, you give the parents of children that may have allergies the opportunity to not only let you know, but also to make arrangements for food their children will be able to eat.
Simple food fixes
Because gluten and nuts are common allergies, you may want to consider treating your guests to gluten-free and nut-free treats. It may also help to offer more than one snack. If there are children that will be attending that do have food allergies, be sure to let the parents know the options available, so they can quickly discuss it with their children. It may also be beneficial to save any prepared food packaging to enable other parents to read the ingredients list for potential allergens.
If you’re approached by a parent of a susceptible child with a desire to bring a secure dish, courteously accept it, and put it on the table with other snacks. If you do have a theme, do your best to avoid stressing whether or not it matches with said theme. It may help to let the child that has the allergen be among the first to receive their food in the line as well, to avoid the potential for running out of the allergy free food prior to the child receiving some.
Don’t assume children know what is best for them
Just because a child has an allergy does not mean they understand what it is. Therefore, don’t presume that children that are old enough to be dropped off at the party, will make proper choices. This is why it is so critical that you address allergies in the invitation. Though the parents of the child that have the allergies are ultimately the ones that are responsible for their children, because you are hosting, you must do your best to check with every parent whether or not their kids have sensitivities to specific items you are serving at your child’s birthday party.
Don’t make a scene
No one wants to be singled out at any event. This is especially true for young children. Because of this, you must do your best to not make a big deal about food allergies with any child that attends the birthday party. Even if you think it’s hogwash, and that there’s no real threat with what you’re serving, it’s imperative that you respect the wishes of your attendees without making anyone feel bad or guilty about their dietary needs.
Finally, avoid any food item as a prize or party favor
It’s common practice to give prizes for games that are played at the party, or in swag bags as party favors to attendees. To avoid allergy issues here, stick to non-food items as your giveaways. In lieu of food, use things like toys, stickers, and other novelty items.