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3 tips for hosting people with food allergies

Posted on December 16th, 2008 by Alison Read 1 Comment - Add Your Own »

The holiday parties are in full swing with more on the way. If you are the host of an event this season, you may feel stressed or put out by someone with a food allergy or special dietary request. I mean, you have enough to do already, right? It is normal to feel this way, but keep in mind that anything you do to accommodate that person will be so appreciated. It is a hard time of year for those who can’t eat to their hearts delight, but here are three things you could do to make it easier for the person with special dietary needs. It would truly be a wonderful gift!

1. Call or Email

If you know that someone has a special dietary need, contact them ahead of time. Give him/her a call and discuss the menu. Sometimes what you have planned, or at least part of the meal, may already be okay and you don’t have to worry about it. Or, perhaps a simple substitution or ommission of something may make the food okay for that person. Or, the person may tell you not to worry about it at all, that they will bring their own food. Even if you end up not being able to make the accommodations, the person will be thankful that you thought to ask them about it ahead of time.

2. Know Ingredients and Save Labels

I have often shown up at someone’s house for a party not expecting to be able to eat anything. But if I am able to ask about ingredients or read package labels, I may find that I can. Don’t be offended if someone asks you for the package to read labels, even if you have told them that you think it is okay – it is just something we food-intolerant people have to do to save ourselves from making mistakes! So if you just don’t throw away the labels until after the party, it would be a great help!

3. Serve Things Separately or Not at All

Keeping different foods on separate plates helps a person avoid foods to which they are intolerant. For example, if you know someone can’t have gluten, serve the crackers and cheese on separate plates. This way there is less chance for the crackers crumbs to contaminate the cheese and the gluten-free person can still enjoy the cheese alone. (We gluten-free people have no problem eating hunks of plain cheese!)

You might also consider serving sauces and add-ins on the side. A gluten-intolerant person may be able to have a meat dish without the sauce. A dairy-intolerant person may be able to have your salad if you don’t put the feta cheese in it. If people add these things themselves it will allow everyone to be able to eat the meal.

If you know someone is deathly allergic to something, consider not serving it at all. This may seem obvious, but often there is a bowl of nuts at a party where there are nut-allergic kids. Even if the allergic person doesn’t eat it, the liklihood that those nuts will end up on the floor or somewhere else is high. Plus, it just might make someone so nervous, especially parents of allergic kids, that they won’t even enjoy your party. Skip the nuts — people won’t even miss them.


I’m off to a party tonight… wonder if there will be anything there I can eat! If you know someone who might need this information, you can email them the link using the little email button below.

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  1. Once upon a time, I went to a wonderful party hosted by a dear friend named Leslie. She knew my daughter had multiple food allergies. I asked her what I could bring and she said “Sharon, I bet you’ve never gone to a party where you didn’t have to bring separate dishes for your daughter. This time I just want you show up and bring nothing.”

    She hosted a party for over 50 people, including kids, and each dish, appetizer, salad, dessert (and there were many) were totally safe for my daughter. What a wonderful gift for my daughter to say “Go ahead honey, you can eat anything you want.” I’m getting teary just writing about it.

    I’m not saying that everyone has to be a Leslie, but to just offer even one or two dishes is a dream come true for us.

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