22 May Keeping your year end party hassle-free with food allergies and special diets.
It’s year end party time.
Email invitations are pouring in. All the sports award events, performances, dinners, clubs and school parties are arriving faster than you can add them to the calendar. For most, these invitations are no big deal, but for anyone managing a special diet, be it food allergies, diabetes or celiac disease, these events may signal anything but excitement.
Food related events often turn into extra work for already busy teachers, coaches and parents. But can also turn into exclusion zones, or even present a dangerous situation. What can you do to create a bridge to that childhood moment of joy and excitement, while skipping over the stress? Plenty!
By the time the invitation hits your inbox, the host/hostess is most likely deep in party planning mode. When you make contact to discuss your loved one’s diet needs, party items might already be on the Amazon truck headed out! Time to problem solve. It’s easier than you think.
9 Tips for Party Success
Below are our 9 Top-Tips for year end Party Success with Food Allergies and Special Diets.
- Acknowledge & Thank. Set the stage for positive and open conversations. Acknowledge that the person in charge of the event is just as busy as you are and might not be ready for a special request. Starting all conversations with gratitude is key.
- How old? By years end, many children have grown more competent in self-advocacy. Pause for a moment to review the age and stage of your child in regards to the event. Do they still require adult help?
- Know what you need, not what you want. Be honest with yourself regarding what you truly need to request versus what you want. If asking for a food-free party is what you want, but if food parties are allowed at your school, be realistic.
- Know your policy! Re-read your school or organization’s food allergen or special diet policies and guidelines, including your own 504 Plan. Sometimes your requests are simply asking for your policy or accommodations to be carried out.
- Think about potential cross-contact. When dealing with preschool aged kids, cross contact of foods might be harder to manage than older children. For example, food eaten with a spoon might be easier to manage than finger foods. Ponder your cross-contact concerns, then discuss.
- Emergency Ready. Be prepared for an emergency if parents or care-givers will not be present. Who will carry and administer emergency medications if needed? Take the lead and help your hosts be ready, willing and trained.
- Team Strategies. Depending on the age of your child, sit down with them and create some strategies, such as bringing wipes for everyone to use, or eating ahead to time and skipping party food. Review family rules for eating food not from home. Go over label reading, or simply learning how to say ‘no thank you!’
- What about Inclusion? Inclusion looks different to everyone. For some, it means an entirely safe event or limited offerings of safe foods. For others, dietary needs are quite unique and bringing their own food is the solution.
- Too complicated? Bring your own. Sometimes, the best plan is to bring your food or snacks to year end events. Get creative with fun bento boxes, cupcake holders or containers to hold your child’s party foods. And ask if you can bring foods that you can safely reheat.
Approaching a party with a positive attitude will help set the stage for success!
Thanks to Caroline Moassessi, aka The Grateful Foodie for this article.