I just read a great article on CNN.com that I wanted to share with you, on kids with allergies at birthday parties. Don't kill the birthday guest
Believe me, I have been there... I was a kid with food allergies. Now I am an adult with food allergies. In case any of you thoughtful, hospitable parents wonder why I generally turn down (politely!) any offers of cake or ice cream or food from the buffet at your party, that is why. I don't make a big deal about it... I have never been comfortable with drawing attention away from the fun birthday celebration to myself and my health issues, especially since I am there to entertain, not to eat cake. :-) But the article points out a lot of good ideas and considerations to keep in mind when planning a party, ways for you as a host(ess) to be considerate of your child's young friends who may have allergies.
Contrary to some people's mistaken ideas, kids with allergies are NOT just fussy, and we are not "faking it," or "trying to get attention" and it is not something that can be simply ignored. I have heard so many horror stories of clueless people serving someone a food they are allergic to on purpose, to "help them get over themselves and stop the drama" and the allergic person needing to be rushed to the hospital or jabbed with an epi-pen! I know none of my gentle readers would consider doing anything like that, and thankfully with all the news stories about allergies lately, more and more people are coming to recognize allergies for the serious problem that they are. I myself am highly allergic to peanuts, among other things, to the point that even someone who has been eating peanuts shaking my hand and getting peanut oil on me will make me break out in an itchy rash! Just being in the same room with an open jar of peanut butter, or where people are eating peanuts, can give me mild asthma symptoms and make my eyes start to water. Thankfully my allergy is not life-threatening, that is why I don't stipulate "please no peanuts" in my party contract, :-) however being around peanuts does make me seriously uncomfortable for quite a while afterward.
And no, those with allergies are not expecting the whole menu or party to revolve around them and their dietary needs... it's embarrassing enough as it is not to be able to eat what everyone else is eating, they certainly are not trying to get more attention. Just having a few options that are allergy-friendly, such as sliced fresh fruit, dairy-free sorbet, and pretzels (for those who are not allergic to gluten) will be better than nothing. If you find out in advance (and usually parents will tell you) that one of your guests has a specific allergy, just making a little extra effort to provide them some options (picking up a gluten-free cupcake and a little tub of dairy-free ice cream for them, for example) can make you the coolest parent ever! Just a bit of forethought makes all the difference.
My adventures as a party planner and kids' entertainer! And lots of party inspiration too!