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How Do You Handle Your Child's Birthday Party?
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My daughter is turning 5 in two months and I am a bit stuck on how to do her party. At our family events there is always food and it's usually the same menu which is mostly gluten, dairy and soy containing. I have been told to just feed everyone else normal food and to let my children eat something else, but I don't think that would be right. So how do you handle situations like this? I cook everything right now and I wanted to be a chef so I have no problem making food for around 30 people, but I also understand that people expect certain things at a social gathering. And to top it all off, my daughter wants a tea party (probably Little Mermaid themed). I am really stuck how to handle the menu since I don't feel that my children should have to be told "No you can't have that." when we are throwing the party. And it makes it tougher that we are gluten, dairy, soy and egg free. Any suggestions for how to handle this or safe tea party food would be greatly appreciated.

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I totally agree that she should be able to eat anything there is at her own party!!!

Just a few questions so you can get advice that will be applicable . . .

Is it mostly adults or mostly kids? Mostly family members?

Are you planning on serving them a meal or more of a light snack? Are you looking at sitting down to eat or more buffet-ish?

What does your daughter like to eat? . . . and perhaps just as important . . . What does she absolutely hate?

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If you are hosting the party then I would fix food that your children can eat period. As for others "expecting" certian things at a social gathering, I think that they need to realize that this day is for and about your daughter and need no expectations. At my youngest son's birthday (his 6th) he was gluten free. I fixed him a gluten free cake, had a veggi/dip tray, had corn dog bites, and made fruit sushi. This was mainly for the kids and the few grown ups that stayed were welcome to eat or not. I never told anyone(except the few friends that know) that everything was gluten free. I did ask if any of the kids had any food allergies first just in case though. There wasn't much food left so it must have been alright. We are going to have a halloween party this year. First year I was just a few days diagnosed so I hadn't made the house gluten free yet. Second year I caved and served a gluten menue to the vast majority (had about 40+ people at my house) and had the gluten free food in a separate area (just me at the time and three other guests were gluten free). This year since I've become more sensitive to cc and my youngest son has celiac too the whole party will be served gluten free food. I will inquire if anyone has allergies before they eat just in case, but otherwise I don't really see a need to disclose the gluten free thing unless someone asks or needs gluten free too. Most of the guests will be classmates of my son so they will probably know anyway. If I were you I would plan her party with her in mind and not worry about doing two different menues. There are plenty of things you can serve that will satisfy everone.

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I totally agree that she should be able to eat anything there is at her own party!!!

Just a few questions so you can get advice that will be applicable . . .

Is it mostly adults or mostly kids? Mostly family members?

Are you planning on serving them a meal or more of a light snack? Are you looking at sitting down to eat or more buffet-ish?

What does your daughter like to eat? . . . and perhaps just as important . . . What does she absolutely hate?

The party will be mostly adult family members with a few children under 5 and the standard thing for our gatherings have been meal food and kind of buffet style.

And I am extremely fortunate that my kids will eat almost anything, I can't think of any food that she won't eat. 4 years old and her favorite foods are peas and strawberries so I am very lucky there.

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but I also understand that people expect certain things at a social gathering.

It's your party! Do whatever you want - they can always stay home if they're afraid of quinoa pasta or something.

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If you are hosting the party then I would fix food that your children can eat period. As for others "expecting" certian things at a social gathering, I think that they need to realize that this day is for and about your daughter and need no expectations. At my youngest son's birthday (his 6th) he was gluten free. I fixed him a gluten free cake, had a veggi/dip tray, had corn dog bites, and made fruit sushi. This was mainly for the kids and the few grown ups that stayed were welcome to eat or not. I never told anyone(except the few friends that know) that everything was gluten free. I did ask if any of the kids had any food allergies first just in case though. There wasn't much food left so it must have been alright. We are going to have a halloween party this year. First year I was just a few days diagnosed so I hadn't made the house gluten free yet. Second year I caved and served a gluten menue to the vast majority (had about 40+ people at my house) and had the gluten free food in a separate area (just me at the time and three other guests were gluten free). This year since I've become more sensitive to cc and my youngest son has celiac too the whole party will be served gluten free food. I will inquire if anyone has allergies before they eat just in case, but otherwise I don't really see a need to disclose the gluten free thing unless someone asks or needs gluten free too. Most of the guests will be classmates of my son so they will probably know anyway. If I were you I would plan her party with her in mind and not worry about doing two different menues. There are plenty of things you can serve that will satisfy everone.

Thank you. My daughters and myself were diagnosed only 3 months ago so I haven't really cooked gluten free things for other people and for a tea party of all things.

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I don't have kids, but the topic of a gluten-free tea party has come up on this forum before. Perhaps you can get some ideas from this old thread:

(Just be sure to double check any specific products mentioned since the posts are a few years old).

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Tea party just means little finger foods and pretty presentation of the food.

I LOVE the Allergen-Free Baker's handbook (How to bake without gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts and sesame) by Cybele Pascal I have even just swapped out her flour mix and xanthan gum for a straight from a bag commercial gluten free flour replacer. Worked great! Everyone (even gluten eaters)loves the yellow or chocolate cupcakes.

We have done

make your own tacos

chicken or beef kabobs

grilled fruit &vegetables on lettuce wraps

everyone loves the bacon wrapped water chesnuts

deep fried turkey

chips and salsa dips (look for a fruit salsa recipe)

cut up fruit

Start thinking of vegetables as the bread/crackers (so.. tea sandwich starts with cucumber slice, hummus to on top to make a piece of ham stick)

jello jigglers

Go back over your favorite old recipes look for the ones that need the least amount of substitute ingredients. Start converting those first.

Think of the things you like that you can still have and look for recipes that go with that.

Remember little kids DO NOT eat at parties!

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I don't have kids, but the topic of a gluten-free tea party has come up on this forum before. Perhaps you can get some ideas from this old thread:

(Just be sure to double check any specific products mentioned since the posts are a few years old).

Thank you! I definitely got at least one great idea from the thread, my daughter is thrilled that everyone will be able to decorate their own cookie...and maybe I could make them in the shape of sea creatures.

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Tea party just means little finger foods and pretty presentation of the food.

I LOVE the Allergen-Free Baker's handbook (How to bake without gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts and sesame) by Cybele Pascal I have even just swapped out her flour mix and xanthan gum for a straight from a bag commercial gluten free flour replacer. Worked great! Everyone (even gluten eaters)loves the yellow or chocolate cupcakes.

We have done

make your own tacos

chicken or beef kabobs

grilled fruit &vegetables on lettuce wraps

everyone loves the bacon wrapped water chesnuts

deep fried turkey

chips and salsa dips (look for a fruit salsa recipe)

cut up fruit

Start thinking of vegetables as the bread/crackers (so.. tea sandwich starts with cucumber slice, hummus to on top to make a piece of ham stick)

jello jigglers

Go back over your favorite old recipes look for the ones that need the least amount of substitute ingredients. Start converting those first.

Think of the things you like that you can still have and look for recipes that go with that.

Remember little kids DO NOT eat at parties!

Oh thank you!!! I think I am still in the mindset of "I have to replace this food exactly." and I am trying hard to get out of that.

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Interesting quiestion about the food. I agree mostly with everyone. I do however think there are exceptions to the rule.

For instance I have been lucky enough to have friends who ask "what can your DD have that I can include or disclude into the menu for a party THEY are throwing" Now no one ever goes GLuten free completely but some have bought specialty items like gluten-free pizza, gluten-free snacks or just gone mostly natural foods with exceptions of cake and ice creams.

Now in my opinion if they are nice enough to include your kids gluten-free foods into their parties shouldn't the courtesy be extended back?

It's a tough call when you are going to have 30 people of varying ages and your allergens are pretty limiting compared the rest of the party attendees.

Can't you have all your kids favorites and throw in a few others for the guests?

I have to say if I invite people over I consider it my job to make them happy and intend to feed them foods they like. I can mostly accomplish that going gluten-free, but we are only gluten-free, not additional allergens.

Good luck!!!!

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At the kids' birthday parties we let them pick the menu. Our daughter just had her birthday and we were still in the GAPS Intro. She didn't miss a beat - she just picked her favorite things that we'd been eating and that was the menu!

Here's what she picked:

Dinner:

Ground Beef Patties

Roasted Beets

Homemade Pink Sauerkraut

Yogurt

Dessert:

Almond Bread with Orange Curd

Breakfast:

Winter Squash Souflees with honey

A couple of the kids were too squeamish to try things they hadn't had at home, but everyone else ate & enjoyed plenty and had a great time. (Some of the recipes are on my blog but I'm not allowed to link to it. It's in my profile. These probably wouldn't work for your party, but the idea is that the kid picked things she liked.)

IMO, it's nice to accommodate guests, but they should either be adventurous enough to try the food you eat, or pre-eat. It's not like you never have anything good to eat!

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Interesting quiestion about the food. I agree mostly with everyone. I do however think there are exceptions to the rule.

For instance I have been lucky enough to have friends who ask "what can your DD have that I can include or disclude into the menu for a party THEY are throwing" Now no one ever goes GLuten free completely but some have bought specialty items like gluten-free pizza, gluten-free snacks or just gone mostly natural foods with exceptions of cake and ice creams.

Now in my opinion if they are nice enough to include your kids gluten-free foods into their parties shouldn't the courtesy be extended back?

It's a tough call when you are going to have 30 people of varying ages and your allergens are pretty limiting compared the rest of the party attendees.

Can't you have all your kids favorites and throw in a few others for the guests?

I have to say if I invite people over I consider it my job to make them happy and intend to feed them foods they like. I can mostly accomplish that going gluten-free, but we are only gluten-free, not additional allergens.

Good luck!!!!

The difference here is that the kid with allergies who attends a party CAN NOT ENJOY ANY OF THE FOODS OFFERED. People eating SAD diets should not freak out that you don't want to bring a Domino's Pizza, gluten cake, and ice cream your 5 year old can't eat into your home for them. Guests should be gracious enough to entertain the possibility that the allergen free foods you offer them might actually be worth trying. In fact, it can be an enlightening experience for them to try and like what is offered.

It's just cruel to make a 5 year old watch others eat old favorites she can't have AT HER OWN BIRTHDAY PARTY.

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Interesting quiestion about the food. I agree mostly with everyone. I do however think there are exceptions to the rule.

For instance I have been lucky enough to have friends who ask "what can your DD have that I can include or disclude into the menu for a party THEY are throwing" Now no one ever goes GLuten free completely but some have bought specialty items like gluten-free pizza, gluten-free snacks or just gone mostly natural foods with exceptions of cake and ice creams.

Now in my opinion if they are nice enough to include your kids gluten-free foods into their parties shouldn't the courtesy be extended back?

It's a tough call when you are going to have 30 people of varying ages and your allergens are pretty limiting compared the rest of the party attendees.

Can't you have all your kids favorites and throw in a few others for the guests?

I have to say if I invite people over I consider it my job to make them happy and intend to feed them foods they like. I can mostly accomplish that going gluten-free, but we are only gluten-free, not additional allergens.

Good luck!!!!

That's a really good point. I guess with that I'm concerned about cross contamination, how would you handle that? As far as outward symptoms it isn't a problem for the birthday girl, but it is for her sister. A few weeks ago my sister didn't wash her hands while feeding my daughter carrots (She was eating pizza.) and 4 hours later the runny diapers started. I just don't want either of the kids sick. Even if just for cost I would love to just serve every one else their normal baked ziti and mac n cheese, but they do not understand about keeping the food safe and a few of them don't care.

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At the kids' birthday parties we let them pick the menu. Our daughter just had her birthday and we were still in the GAPS Intro. She didn't miss a beat - she just picked her favorite things that we'd been eating and that was the menu!

Here's what she picked:

Dinner:

Ground Beef Patties

Roasted Beets

Homemade Pink Sauerkraut

Yogurt

Dessert:

Almond Bread with Orange Curd

Breakfast:

Winter Squash Souflees with honey

A couple of the kids were too squeamish to try things they hadn't had at home, but everyone else ate & enjoyed plenty and had a great time. (Some of the recipes are on my blog but I'm not allowed to link to it. It's in my profile. These probably wouldn't work for your party, but the idea is that the kid picked things she liked.)

IMO, it's nice to accommodate guests, but they should either be adventurous enough to try the food you eat, or pre-eat. It's not like you never have anything good to eat!

Thank you. I'm just trying to keep everyone happy and safe. Like when the youngest has soy she ends up with gritty, coffee ground diapers, I just have to keep keep them safe. I even toyed with cancelling everything but this is a huge deal for the birthday girl.

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It's your kids party, you serve whatever the heck you want. If other people don't have their expectations met, oh-frickin'-well, they can learn how to deal with that. (I have a bit of a strong opinion on the matter. :) ) My parties are always gluten free, and I'm the only one who needs to eat that way. Heck, my daughter's first birthday party was gluten free (including the cake) so I could eat it. Everyone loved everything.

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I can not risk my child's health for including gluten, eggs, fish, shellfish, or peas. I don't want extra things in the house she can't eat. It is the only time ALL the food is safe. I try very hard to make sure there is something everyone will enjoy. I offer a chocolate and a yellow cake option. I try and make sure no nuts are on that day to offer a safe dish and dessert for my allergic niece. I try and make sure there are enough vegan options for another niece. (Should have mentioned that in the other post about a rice and bean side dish goes a long way too.)

She has been in the hospital too many times. The day is about celebrating and yet avoiding the ER)

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That's a really good point. I guess with that I'm concerned about cross contamination, how would you handle that? As far as outward symptoms it isn't a problem for the birthday girl, but it is for her sister. A few weeks ago my sister didn't wash her hands while feeding my daughter carrots (She was eating pizza.) and 4 hours later the runny diapers started. I just don't want either of the kids sick. Even if just for cost I would love to just serve every one else their normal baked ziti and mac n cheese, but they do not understand about keeping the food safe and a few of them don't care.

I only meant to accomodate your needs 95% then maybe throw in something like a store bought equivalent for an alternative.

I know none of my daughters friends will eat the gluten-free pasta's (NONE) I have tried the corn , the quinoa and Annies mac and cheese all her friends hate all of them. If I were making a gluten-free pasta salad maybe I would buy a pasta salad from a deli for my guests. But I would certainly limit my non allergen items to just a couple of things and maybe make it the items my kids or myself wouldn't really care about.

I in no way meant to go hog wild crazy and serve nothing you guys can eat or certainly not to serve your daughters favorites that she could not have.

As far as making it safe make sure it the last thing on the buffet table or separate table, that way cc should be limited.

Really its a matter of doing what you are comfortable with. If you do not feel safe having food with dairy, soy , gluten, eggs etc.. in your house don't serve them. Stick with snacks and dessert only. Tell the adults you will be allergen free so they an eat beforehand if they so choose (that is their option) the kids should be fine.

But be realistic with the foods. Most 5 yr olds will not eat saurkraut even if it is pink. Make sure there is lots of fruit kabobs etc... :-)

I can't imagine what kind of dessert you can make that is dairy, soy, egg and Gluten free? Good luck with that.

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I only meant to accomodate your needs 95% then maybe throw in something like a store bought equivalent for an alternative.

I know none of my daughters friends will eat the gluten-free pasta's (NONE) I have tried the corn , the quinoa and Annies mac and cheese all her friends hate all of them. If I were making a gluten-free pasta salad maybe I would buy a pasta salad from a deli for my guests. But I would certainly limit my non allergen items to just a couple of things and maybe make it the items my kids or myself wouldn't really care about.

I in no way meant to go hog wild crazy and serve nothing you guys can eat or certainly not to serve your daughters favorites that she could not have.

As far as making it safe make sure it the last thing on the buffet table or separate table, that way cc should be limited.

Really its a matter of doing what you are comfortable with. If you do not feel safe having food with dairy, soy , gluten, eggs etc.. in your house don't serve them. Stick with snacks and dessert only. Tell the adults you will be allergen free so they an eat beforehand if they so choose (that is their option) the kids should be fine.

But be realistic with the foods. Most 5 yr olds will not eat saurkraut even if it is pink. Make sure there is lots of fruit kabobs etc... :-)

I can't imagine what kind of dessert you can make that is dairy, soy, egg and Gluten free? Good luck with that.

Thank you for clarifying. And the dessert part is the easiest...I adapted a recipe for a chocolate cake that I found and even my gluten eating sister loved it, at least til I told her it was gluten free:)

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My dd's 5th birthday is in a couple of weeks. All of our family and friends (it will be a close-knit group, not inviting the school friends just yet) are incredibly supportive. Not only are they expecting nothing but gluten-free menu items, many are suggesting items and recipes they have come across. I agree, guests should be accomodated, but likewise, the birthday girl should be able to eat ANYTHING offered at her party. It should be the one day of the year that she is NOT told she can't have something. What better gift, right?

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I really like the idea of kabobs. For a tea party (like somebody else said) I just think things should be smaller, you could get the disposable wood kabob sticks (I got mine at the grocery store) and cut them in half. Do both fruit kabobs and meat kabobs. If you want to cook/grill, you could do a chicken or beef with whatever veggies you want (peppers, tomatos, onion, and mushrooms come to mind). You could even do cut up hotdogs on them for the kids if you thought that would go over better. If you don't want to cook, your meat kabobs could have ham or (cooked but cold chicken or turkey breast) once again with some veggies (tomatos, peppers, cucumbers, raw broccoli and califlower . . . it would be nice if you had some kind of dip on the side for these but I'm not sure what to suggest).

If you're going with hot food, some kind of seasoned rice as a side and if you're going cold, some kind of chip.

The nice thing about kabobs is that nobody (well, at least I don't) expects bread to make a sandwich.

I love the decorate your own dessert thing for kids . . . it's both an activity and food. Might have some done up for the adults that don't want to play along. At one of my daughters parties, the girls decorated cupcakes and I had a lot of candies on hand to use . . . M&M's, runts, candy corn, etc. I know that M&M's would be out but maybe the enjoy life chocolate chips?

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There's a magazine called Living Without that has a lot of ideas for kids birthday parties and have resources on modifying recipes to replace dairy, eggs etc. http://www.livingwithout.com/ and recipes. They have a lot of menu ideas on their website. I think if it's your daughter's birthday you can have a tasty party with foods she can eat - just think meats, veggies, fruit, potato salad

I had a bunch of people over this weekend. I made tacos and asked people to bring fruit or vegetables or wine. I don't think anyone noticed that we were gluten-free -- I noticed it's usually better to cook foods that have no gluten than serve gluten-free versions of food which people can be a bit snobby about -

There are so many options especially when your kids aren't too picky -

also think about doing some non-food cool thing like renting a bouncy house

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I'm late replying but I think absolutely you should make it entirely gluten free so your kids can have what they want.

You want to be a gracious host, and to make food that you're guests will enjoy, but we all know that can be accomplished with gluten free food. I see it as different to asking a non-gluten free person to provide (or allow you to provide) a gluten free alternative, because if you don't have one, you (or your child) can't eat at all. Gluten-eaters at a gluten-free party will be by no means deprived.

After I got sick letting my sister have regular pizza at my house, I won't allow any non-gluten free food in my place. It's just not worth the cc risk. I'm happy to make anything else they want. And if they can't bear the thought of eating gluten free food, well, they get a nice insight into what it's like not being able to eat anything at all :-)

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I know I'm just repeating everyone else, but this is a hot button issue for me. The rule at our house is "Our house, our food". It's not like you are contemplating feeding your guests rocks or sticks. Everywhere your daughter (my son/husband) goes, she has to make accomodations. She has to forebear. She has to smile politely and say "no, thanks" and "it's okay, i don't mind". Clueless but kind people will "know" there's no gluten/egg/whatever in the food they made, and you'll have to teach her to choose between how she feels in that moment, and how she'll feel later.

So there's only SAFE food at our house parties. And we have lots of them. With lots of people. Lots of teens (my son was dx @9; he's now almost 18). He never has to worry about what's in the bowl, who ate it, ANYthing.

The great part? The unexpected part? Because we only have safe food at our house, his friends have learned what he can eat. At their parties, they remember, and include his food. At his trips, chaperones informed by his friends include his food. His girlfriend's mom has stickers that say "Patrick first" to put on unopened bags of chips.

If your guests are so unspeakably rude as to comment on the food, I say go ahead and feed them rocks and sticks. Have a great party!

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How did the party go?

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