Hosting a Food-Allergy-Friendly Holiday Party

Holiday menu planning can be challenging for anyone, but for friends and family members of kids with food allergies, it can be especially difficult.  So I reached out to my fellow dietitians in our allergy clinic to compile some allergy-friendly holiday recipes and a suggested menu. They avoid the six most common allergens.

 Holiday Menu:  (click on the accompanying links for the recipes!)

Other holiday recipes: Milk, egg and wheat free cookies and Thanksgiving dishes.
Other recipes from our dietitians that exclude the six most common food allergens: Creamy Pasta Sauce; Berry Muffins; and Healthy Lazy Soup.

Helpful hints for hosting or attending an allergy-friendly holiday party: 

Meal planning 

It’s helpful for both the host and the guest to have a discussion about the menu ahead of time – that way, no one is surprised and there is time to make adjustments.

  • Hosting: If you’re the host of the party, inform the allergy parents of the menu ahead of time. Ask if they would like to bring a dish that’s safe for their child, or if they need the menu or food preparation modified based on their child’s specific allergies. They will appreciate this offer greatly!
  • Guest: If your child has a food allergy, you may find it helpful to feed your child before the party, that way he won’t be tempted to eat something he’s allergic to.  Also, if you plan to bring a dish that’s safe for your child to eat, make it a hearty one, in case that’s the only thing that’s safe for your child to eat.

Meal Prep

When preparing the food, be mindful of cross-contamination. To avoid this:

  • Wash all surfaces, pots, pans, and utensils with hot, soapy water before preparing food.
  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap after handling each ingredient.
  • Use designated serving utensils between allergy-friendly and non allergy-friendly dishes.
  • Keep allergy-friendly food covered and served away from foods that contain allergens.
  • Look at what modifications you can make to other menu items that contain an allergen.

Meal serving

When serving the food, avoid cross-contamination by:

  • Providing separate or disposable serving utensils.
  • Keeping safe and unsafe utensils separate.
  • Washing eating surfaces with hot, soapy water before guests arrive.
  • Saving all ingredient labels of the food you prepared so that guests can read them, if they wish.
  • Keeping foods that contain the allergen out of the reach of young children.
  • Reminding your child that she is to only take food from you or other adults who are familiar with your child’s allergies.

Take the focus off of the food

Having a food allergy can feel isolating for some kids. Taking the focus off of the food can help with this tremendously! Create non-food traditions such as ice skating, watching a favorite holiday movie, or singing karaoke. There are many possibilities that can feel inclusive for everyone.

 

If you would like to learn more about the Division of Allergy and Immunology, or to schedule an appointment, visit our webpage.

Topics:

Carina Venter, PhD, RD

About the Author: Carina Venter, PhD, RD

Carina Venter is a Research Associate/Dietician at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center with the Cincinnati Center for Eosinophilic Disorders. She has published in international journals and has authored book chapters in food hypersensitivity, pregnancy, lactation, weaning and allergy prevention. Carina is also co-editor of the book, Food Hypersensitivity: Diagnosing and Managing Food Allergies and Intolerances.

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Comments

  1. Dr. Marc Rothenberg MD, PhD December 20, 15:35
    Carina-This is wonderful. Thanks for what you are doing to help patients with food allergies including EGID! This is so important during the holiday season.