6 Tips for Celebrating the Holidays with Food Allergies
It’s that time of year when holiday parties fill the calendar. Whether you’re a guest or hosting a party yourself, food allergies shouldn’t hold you back from seeing family and friends during holidays. Here are some tips that could help alleviate worries and allow you to enjoy celebrating the season.
RSVP – ASAP! Be a great guest by contacting your host as soon as your invitation arrives. Start by communicating gently and by educating others; remember, your host is hoping to plan the “perfect” holiday party or meal.
Discuss your concerns about food allergens, the possibility of cross-contact, and how you can best create a safe environment. Talk to your host or hostess about asking guests to wash their hands after eating if allergen foods are present. By having an interactive conversation about food allergies in general, you have an opportunity to educate without offending your host.
BYOSF (Bring Your Own Safe Food). Offer to bring safe food so that you know there will be something there that you or your child can eat and your host doesn’t have to worry about separate food preparations. Share dishes that would be allergen-free and a delight for everyone attending. If you are inviting guests to your house, ask them to contribute non-food items such as cups, napkins, or their own beverages.
Ship ahead. If you're flying to visit friends or family, you may want to make some simple allergy-free foods that travel well and ship them to your host ahead of time.
Start the trend. Include an ingredient listing card with your food contribution to the party. Also, add an ingredient card to all food gifts you send out from your kitchen. If you are hosting, keep all labels from the food you prepare in case one of your guests has a food allergy as well. This is a great opportunity to raise awareness at a party and with friends.
Tag-team to keep an eye on young ones. Plan ahead with your partner or another adult to divide the task of supervising your young child. Create a signal for silently alerting each other to switch. With designated "on duty" times, your child will be supervised, and each adult will have time to socialize. This keeps little hands away from allergens that may be out (such as a bowl of chocolates or nuts).
The rules. Go over “the rules” for parties with your kids in the car so that the most important safety rules, such as not eating a food unless he or she has checked with you first, will be fresh in their minds when you arrive.
As always, be sure to ask about ingredients, check labels when possible, and carry medications with you in case of a reaction.