When you have kids that can eat anything, you never give going to a party much thought. You just turn up, take a plate if you need to and enjoy yourself. It takes a lot more planning though if you or a family member can’t just eat what everyone else is having. Of course you can choose to always do the catering at your house and make everything a safe food but that isn’t always practical and it is nice to go out too.
I’ve done quick check list of some of the things you can do to make the party less stressful for everyone.
1. You can ask the host if you can take a couple of plates to share so that your child feels included and can take from the table. Just make sure to take their food first before anything becomes contaminated by wandering hands and shared tongs.
2. Take your own food all together for your child. This is what I choose to do. You might like to find out what the host is making so that you can do something similar. Don’t forget to hide a treat in your handbag just in case something unexpected crops up!
3. Have a chat to your child before you go and remind them that they need to check with you before they eat anything. It’s really hard with some kids because they feel left out not being able to eat what everyone else is.
4. For really young kids you might like to consider a badge or bib for them to wear. It reminds well meaning guests not to feed your child. There are also stickers available for drink bottles and lunch boxes that serve as a constant reminder to other people not to feed your child.
5. Be prepared this time of year and have a stack of safe food in the freezer. That way you can easily pull out a cup cake, some healthy and safe sausage rolls or a homemade pizza and not make every event too much work.
But what if you’re the host and you don't have experience with allergies?
- It’s really easy to make a child with allergies feel safe and welcome at a party. It’s our job as parents to teach our children to be kind and include everyone and this is a perfect way to show them how it’s done! Embrace the challenge and make it as easy as possible for the parents of the child with allergies. If your children don’t have allergies you probably won’t appreciate how grateful parents are for the small things you will do
- Talk to the parent and find out what the allergies are, how sensitive they are to the allergens and what they usually do for parties (they might just avoid allergens and eat from what is available that you prepare, bring a couple of plates to share or bring their own food)
- If the parent brings their own food they may like to know what you will be serving so that they can provide something similar
- Don’t make a fuss of the child with allergies when they arrive – treat them like everyone other guest
- Use treats that aren’t food for games and party bags such as bubbles, stickers, pens, pads of paper etc.
- Make the parent welcome to stay, especially if the child requires an Epi-Pen. If the child is left in your care ensure that they show you how to use the Epi-Pen and that you feel confident with their instructions – make sure you tell them if not
- Keep any empty food packets so a parent can check ingredient lists
- Be careful of cross contamination. If the child will be eating from the table ensure that they take all of their food first and no top ups once the other guests have touched the food. It’s also a good idea to get everyone to wash their hands before and after eating.
If you’ve got any other ideas or tips to share let us know below!