Perhaps one of the most time consuming and most fun events is throwing birthday parties for your children. Agreeing on a theme, creating decorations, developing a menu, and last but certainly not least managing the invites.
In this day and age food allergies are common, particularly in children. It’s been reported that one in thirteen children under the age of 18 are affected with food allergies in the U.S. For parents of children with food allergies, birthday parties can be a danger zone with many common food allergens lurking in store-bought treats and confections. For children it’s upsetting and confusing to be left out because the host is concerned that managing the allergy sufferer seems too scary or too hard. Thankfully with our handy food allergy checklist, it’s easier than you think to host an allergy-safe birthday celebration.
When it comes to the safety and health of your guests, communication is key! Some of the tips we recommend are:
• Start the dialogue early: Request that allergies be shared at the time of RSVP. If you have questions or concerns about how to keep a party guest safe reach out in advance.
• Medications: Set up a time for you to talk to the child and their parent about what food allergy symptoms to watch out for, whom to contact, as well as how and when to use an EpiPen. Be sure to check-in with the parent as to if they are ok with their child administering their own allergy meds. If you are not comfortable administering an EpiPen voice up and perhaps invite the parents of the child to stay and help out.
• Foods: Discuss what will be served ahead of time and share whether meal and snack time will be supervised. If you are open to suggestions, let it be known. If you will be offering safe foods in addition to other offerings be aware of cross-contamination by using separate utensils and dish cloths.
• Think outside the box: If you are creating goodie bags for guests, consider non-food items such as mini puzzles, pencils, fun erasers, and small trinkets. If you do opt to include edible treats we suggest making safe goodie bags for guests with food allergies and waiting to hand them out as a parting gift. This will help ensure that a safe treat hasn’t been swapped for an unsafe treat as well as allow the guest to open their goodie bag with their parents.
• Just a phone call away: Last but certainly not least, be sure to obtain the parent’s contact information in the case of emergency, or if you have any questions.
Having a child with food allergies can be challenging. Going the extra mile to make the child with allergies feel welcome and safe will go a long way with them and their parents. Not to mention your care and consideration will help ensure no little one is left out.
Do you have any other tips to add to the food allergy checklist? Let us know in the comments below!