Host an Allergy-Friendly Birthday Party
With the streamers hung and favors ready, you’re prepared for the frenzy of energetic guests at your child’s birthday celebration. But when one small guest announces he’s allergic to gluten, you panic; somebody won’t get to taste your crowning glory, a triple chocolate layer cake.
“The most prevalent food allergies are wheat, gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, dairy, egg, fish and shellfish,” said Amanda Curley, Registered Dietitian at Avera Medical Group Gastroenterology Sioux Falls. “Gluten, eggs and dairy can be found in cupcakes alone.”
Use the following tips to help you prepare an allergy-friendly birthday party.
The first step to handling allergy concerns at a birthday party is honest and open-minded dialogue between the child’s parents and the host.
When writing out invitations, include a line near the RSVP requesting parents to disclose whether or not their child has an allergy. Even if the invitation doesn’t include such a request, parents of the invited child should kindly reach out and make this known.
These parents can go one step further by suggesting safe party foods or even providing treats their child can eat. If you, the host, feel a little nervous about managing a child’s allergy needs, ask the parent if he or she could attend the party and put you at ease.
While grocery shopping, look for foods and brands that are allergy friendly.
“One great brand found at most grocery stores is ‘Enjoy Life,’” said Curley. “They’ve created cookies, bars and baking mixes that are free from most common allergies.” This option is especially useful if you’re dealing with multiple allergies rather than just one!
You can also give parents the birthday menu and invite them to make slight suggestions. For example, corn tortillas can easily replace flour tortillas to accommodate a gluten allergy.
Goodie bags filled with stickers, bubbles, pencils or coloring sheets can replace food treats altogether, too.
Fun with healthy food
Fruits and vegetables are tasty, healthy options that are usually safe to replace sweet or salty treats.
“Fruit kabobs can serve as both dessert and a fun, do-it-yourself project at a birthday party,” said Curley. “Smoothies and snow cones are other treats to consider rather than cake and ice cream.”
Search Pinterest, too. On a tray, arrange fruits and vegetables into rainbows or colorful cartoon heads, such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Handling a reaction
Nothing kills the party vibe faster. Mistakes happen; one ingredient was overlooked or cross-contamination may occur between bowls. Knowing exactly how to handle a reaction requires ample communication between parents. Children should have their medicine or EpiPen® at the party, and the host should know how to access and administer treatment if parents aren’t around. Call 911 if the child goes into shock.
“Remember, the most important part is to make sure everyone has a great time and feels included,” said Curley. “With a little awareness and communication, planning an allergy-friendly birthday party is possible.”