Dealing with food allergies is always rough on families, but the holiday season can be particularly challenging. As classroom party plans and social invitations crop up, parents need to balance protecting their children’s health against allowing them to participate in the celebrations. With some preparation and planning, the holidays don’t have to be quite so stressful for families living with food allergies.
Food Allergy Tips
No classroom teacher or holiday party host wants to exclude someone from the festivities due to allergies. Often, people who don’t live with food allergies on a daily basis simply don’t know how to be inclusive. When you receive a party invitation, respond right away and let the host know about your child’s allergies. Offer solutions and share what your family usually does at such gatherings. Let the host know about cross contact concerns and having guests wash their hands after eating certain foods. Remind the host that you’re not trying to be difficult, but safe.
Classroom parties often present particular challenges for parents of children with food allergies. If an upcoming classroom party is a concern for your family, take the initiative by reaching out to your child’s teacher well in advance of any party preparations. Chances are you’ve already spoken to the teacher generally about your child’s allergies at the start of the school year, so he or she may be expecting to hear from you as party season approaches.
Offer to provide the food for the party yourself so that your child can safely eat everything and be fully included. If you’re on good terms with other parents, talk to them about why you’d like to provide the food, and gently suggest that they provide nonfood items such as decorations, games, or crafts. (Your child’s teacher can also make this suggestion to other parents if you prefer not to do it.)
Bring Safe Food
If you’re accustomed to dealing with food allergies, you probably already do this regularly, but it’s important to note. Especially when attending a party at the home of a friend or acquaintance, bring a safe meal for your child so that even if foods with allergens are present, your child can eat without feeling singled out.
The combination of the holiday season and food allergies is a challenge, but with preparation and planning, it can be a delightful time of year for your family.