Mailbag: Hosting People With Allergies
“Talia” Writes: I don’t have any food allergies, but a lot of my friends are starting to announce that they are gluten-free or can’t have nightshades, or soy, or can only eat carrots if they have been ripened under the July harvest moon during a blood sacrifice…
I like having people over for dinner/parties, but it’s really overwhelming when I think of trying to find food options that work for everyone. I don’t want to tell my friends “Bring your own food” either, because I feel that’s really rude.
What advice would you give an unrestricted omnivore like me in getting a party spread ready for people who are 6-friendly and not-6-friendly without driving myself insane and without making my friends do all the work?
T: Don’t stress! Share your concerns with that person. Those of us with food allergies understand it can be problematic to cook for us. Generally we’d prefer that our dietary needs are not overly focused upon though we’ll definitely appreciate the thoughtfulness of asking. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Talking to your guest ahead of the party puts you ahead of the game and reaching out will already do a lot to make the guest feel accommodated.
- Your guest will probably be willing to bring something safe for them that can be shared by others. Ensuring food is safe is always easier to do when it’s cooked in your own kitchen.
- The guest does not expect house to have safe food or that you, the host, will be willing to go to extreme measures to accommodate their varied needs. (Would be crazy to expect!)
- Depending on the severity of their allergies (Anaphylaxis anyone?) the person may say that the risk of cross contamination is to high for them to risk it. For this reason your guest might refuse to eat anything but their own food. They aren’t being rude, they are trying to be healthy.
- Offering to purchase one or two prepackaged snack items would likely be greatly appreciated. Often times you can find Chips or Popcorn that are safe. (Dum Dum Lollipops and Smartees are a good Allergy Safe standby.)
- Ask the guest for suggestions that work for that person, everyone has their own needs and tastes.
- Try to not make the guest feel bad about their allergies. “Your life must be terrible with those restrictions!” or “I’d kill myself if I couldn’t eat X, Y or Z!” Just try to be senstivie. (Yes people say these things)
- If you’d like to make your guest feel even more comfortable, try making the event NOT about food. Food is a huge part of our lives and social activities but it doesn’t have to be.
- If guest is bringing their own food make sure there is fridge and storage space away from allergens.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY: RELAX! Being the empathetic hostess you are, things will go fine!
Bumper: You’re having a party? Can I come? Bumper likes parties! What’s in your mouth? I wanna go inside and look. Please… please please, PLEASE!!!