How to Host A Kids Party With Dietary Restrictions
What to prep for an allergy-safe kids party
Happy gut, happy kids, happy you
Eating is a communal experience, or it can be a sweet opportunity to create one. Which is why even from the youngest age, we highlight the importance of making every person feel welcome and seen at the table, regardless of dietary restrictions. Adults are generally able to make decisions and monitor their food at parties and gatherings themselves (well, if they’re not, we don’t know who is), but kids do need more guidance. So when it comes to hosting a birthday party for your child, knowing that some of your child’s friends and classmates will bring food allergies and sensitivities along with them, we’re covering all you need to know for hosting a kids party with dietary restrictions.
Top Tips for Hosting with Dietary Restrictions
Rather than seeing these tips as overwhelming or extra work, consider how they will smooth out your party in the long run, and keep all kids healthy and parents happy.
Before the party
Ask for dietary restrictions from their caretaker.
- Include a small note at the end of the invite, whether print or digital, to make this simple and straightforward.
- I.e. “Please text or email me by April 29th with any eating restrictions to keep in mind for your child.” Include your contact details of course, and enough time for you to compile your menu, keeping restrictions in mind.
- Ask their caretaker for a list of no-go foods. When in doubt, just leave peanut butter on the shelf.
- Request their kids’ likes and dislikes—sometimes kids with dietary restrictions are served only things they can eat but they don’t actually want to eat them.
- Ask for brand recommendations. As the caretaking experts, they will know all the best pineapple-free popsicles, guaranteed.
Planning the menu
Thinking ahead makes the actual party day a piece of cake… which we also suggest you have a piece of.
- Plan an inclusive menu. As much as you can, aim for vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free bites. Lucky for our day and age, the internet is your friend and has so many inclusive and delicious recipes available at your fingertips, and for your party guests’ enjoyment.
- Consider a menu that allows for self-assembly. For instance, a taco bar is a winner because kids get to select the ingredients they can eat. If you serve food that is already put together, the kids can’t choose just their safe ingredients.
- Provide the menu draft beforehand to the kids’ caretakers for feedback. Making any changes they suggest will save any worries come party time.
- Ideas for Food Bars:
- ~Taco bar
- ~Pizza bar
- ~Yogurt parfaits (coconut and soy yogurt editions, too!)
- ~Sandwich bar: Featuring GF bread options, hummus, deli meat, almond butter, jelly
- ~Snack bar: Chopped fruit, carrots & hummus or DF ranch, crackers, pretzels
For the cake, ice cream, or other sweets
- If you’re baking, opt for gluten free, dairy-free options. There are numerous flours, milks, and sugars out there, so when you choose the ones that all kids can eat, the dessert experience is all-around smoother.
- There are tons of boxed cake options that are gluten free and dairy-free available now, so simplify things all around when you choose one box that everyone can eat.
- If you do opt for dairy options, have two ice cream scoops or cake servers available to keep the two separate.
What to Switch to Bake for Dietary Restrictions
- Flour: Sub 3/4 cup whole wheat flour per 1 cup AP flour
- Flour: White to whole wheat flour 1:1
- Oil: Trade for applesauce 1:1
- Regular Sugar: Sub 1/2 raw organic honey for every 1 amount sugar
- Eggs: Trade for the following:
- ~Flax egg (maybe include how to make one) Add 1 tbsp flaxseed meal (ground raw flaxseed) and 2 1/2 tbsp water to a dish and stir. Let rest for 5 minutes to thicken. Add to recipe.
- ~Banana: 1/2 mashed banana for 1 egg
- ~Pumpkin: 1/4 cup pumpkin for 1 egg
- Check out a more expansive list of baking alternatives here.
Pro Tip: Save your arm (and the kids’ patience) by scooping ice cream ahead of time. Scoop into bowls or cups, keep chilled in the freezer, and bring out when it comes to dessert time. Never has a serving experience gone so smoothly.
Day of the party
May the magic come to life, the little mouths be fed, their bellies filled, and the giggles abound.
- List all ingredients on cards and display in front of the serving bowls, so everything is super clear. Plus, personalize this for your party with cute note cards or customizable designs and stands that go with your theme.
- Save space on the table and in the fridge if caretakers send safe foods for their child to have at the party. Everybody has a seat at this table!
- Make sure you have baking soda and benadryl (allergic reaction essentials) in your party first aid kit. Benadryl is what you need for emergencies in a pinch. Taking a teaspoon of baking soda is a good anti-reactive if someone accidentally eats something they’re allergic to, but it’s not life-threatening.
- Be sure to not make kids with restrictions feel singled out. Discreetly checking in with them as needed is what will keep them feeling their best.
General tips for providing food at a kids party
- Steer clear of peanuts. It’s just easier this way.
- Dairy is optional: If you can opt for dairy-free or vegan options, that makes things easier altogether.
- Don’t be offended if they tell you they’re not going to eat the food at your party! It’s often a safety issue and never personal to you.
- Add an element of play and fun with these Ideas for Goodie Bags at a Kids Party.
With your pristine party prep, parents will be more than happy to hand their kids off to you for an afternoon of playing, fun, and all-around happy, healthy guts. That’s a party success in our eyes…and bellies too.
For other expert tips on hosting a kids party, check out How to Survive Hosting a Kids Party by Partytrick, especially #6, as it pertains to fueling kids well.
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