As the mom to a daughter with food allergies, I’m especially sensitive to planning birthday parties that are allergy-friendly. While I do think that the onus of the child’s safety is primarily on the allergic child’s parents, there are things you can do when planning a party to make sure that everyone is safe and has a great experience.
Talk to Your Child
If your child is in school, ask if any of their friends have food allergies. While it certainly isn’t your kids’ responsibility to know about allergies, they often will know. Kids with food allergies often sit at a separate table at lunch and snack time, making it apparent to the other children.
Communicate with Parents
Assuming you know that kids’ with allergies are attending your party, it’s a great idea to follow up with the parents before the party so you can understand the allergy. Most parents will offer to bring a safe food item for their child if the food you are serving isn’t safe, or you can offer an alternative.
Have Ingredient Lists Available
There’s always the chance that you’ll find out about the allergy at the start of the party. In that case, it’s helpful to have ingredient lists available, so that you can easily show the parents.
Remember ALL Food Items
Many people only think of the cake and ice cream, but remember all of the food you are serving or having available. Is the piñata filled with candy? Are you decorating eggs (which are often unsafe for allergic kids to even touch)? Remember to mention these things to the parents also.
Even if you don’t have a family member with food allergies, it’s always a good idea to carry Benadryl, just in case.
Know How to Use an EpiPen
I often hand a parent an EpiPen and they comment that they have no idea how to use it. If you plan to host playdates or volunteer on a class field trip, you’ll probably find yourself holding an EpiPen at some point. Most school nurses or physicians are easily able to show you how to use one. It’s a good idea to learn, just in case.
With these tips and a little preparation, you should be able to have a successful and safe birthday party.