During the holidays and at other times of celebration, we can’t wait to welcome our friends and family into our homes with open arms – to eat, drink and be merry. And with the noticeable rise in food allergies and intolerances over the past decade, we must also be aware of the particular dietary needs of everyone who crosses our threshold.
If you are preparing to welcome a party of diners with diverse food preferences to your home, don’t worry – handling food allergies with grace and care is possible. However, you will definitely want to take certain precautions to make sure that each and every person you invite feels comfortable – and later, satiated – at your dinner table.
Here are some tips for hosting an allergy-friendly dinner party:
Ask beforehand. On the invites, be sure to ask guests to make you aware of any food allergies or dietary restrictions. You might also want to ask them to what degree they are allergic, so that you may prepare accordingly. Not sending out formal invitations? Make a note on the Facebook event invite, or simply ask in person or over the phone.
Involve the group. If you are hosting a potluck-style dinner party and know that one or more guests attending has a food allergy, request that everyone bring a dish void of that ingredient.
Do your due diligence. If someone coming to your party has celiac disease or an equally severe medical condition, simply leaving certain ingredients out of dishes won’t be enough. You must also take care to avoid any cross-contamination when preparing or serving the food. Know that someone with celiac disease cannot consume even the tiniest crumb of bread, so all surface spaces and utensils must be cleaned thoroughly before being used to cook and serve. For more information, such as how to create a food allergy safety zone at home, visit the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE)’s website.
Use labels to clearly mark which dishes at the party are safe for each diner. A simple handwritten note would do, but we suggest letting the labels add to the décor (and fun) of the party by using different colors or (inspired by FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project) shapes that fit your party’s theme.
Additionally, if you have the space and ability, you may want to consider setting up different buffet stations for different dietary concerns (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan or vegetarian, etc.) and clearly marking those to avoid any confusion. Along those same lines, consider serving everything buffet-style (each dish with its own serving utensils) with an easy-to-identify section of allergen-friendly foods. While it may seem easier to keep a basket of dinner rolls in the center of the table, you don’t want to risk having bread crumbs fall into a gluten-free person’s food.
If you have one or more gluten-free guests coming to your dinner party, you may want to consider making the entire meal gluten-free. Delicious gluten-free recipes for the holidays and beyond are easy to find these days. Not sure where to start? Visit the recipes page at AncientHarvest.com – and also be sure to download our new (and free!) Modern Meal Cookbook. From appetizers to desserts, we’ve got everything you need to host the perfect dinner party – no gluten needed.