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End Of Year Party At School
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My daughter, 7 y.o. newly diagnosed with Celiac's, will have her first end of year party at school in a few weeks. I would love to hear some suggestions from parents who have been through a few of these.

I have contacted the teacher for a list of the items that will be provided and will use this list to decide what she can eat. I am also going to mimic any items on the list that she would like with gluten-free alternatives. The teacher is going to let her go through the line first to choose her food. We are going to bring a gluten-free item to add to the table (like fruit, or something). I was going to box her gluten-free items up and leave them with the teacher the day before so she can have them there in case I am late.

Anything I might be forgetting? I would love to hear how everyone else deals with these recurring social situations.

Thanks!

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We have had parties that I organized in the past and we did this :

fruit platters with fruit arranged in a design

cheese and tortilla chips

gluten-free pretzels

popcorn

tortilla chips and salsa

for sweet treats : jello cups, hoodsie cups or popsicles, jello and whipped cream

juice boxes

BTW I am fighting the whole food in the classroom for birthdays/holidays etc.. allowing for 1 a year(end of year coincidentally).

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It looks to me like you've covered it pretty well. I have to say that you'll learn from this experience what went well and what didn't and adjust your plan. Will you be "working" the party? That's the best way to see how it really goes.

My daughter's school doesn't do anything quite as extensive as what this sounds like. They do have a cookie at both the winter holiday party (we're not allowed to call it a Christmas party) and the Valentine's day party. I always bring in a gluten free cookie for her.

They've been trying to totally clean all other snacks/treats out of the classrooms. It's a fairly large school district and it's a big job to keep track of all the different allergies and intolerances. When my daughter was first diagnosed in Kindergarten, I would see more impromptu snacks/treats given by the teachers. At that time, I had a Ziploc bag labeled "Emergency Snacks" and kept by the teacher. They were available for my daughter if the teacher decided to hand out goldfish crackers or oreo cookies to all the kids. Everything in the bag was a sealed/prepackaged item so it wouldn't go stale. Even if the teacher was handing out something safe she didn't necessarily know it. She always had something that she could give my daughter that she KNEW would be safe if it came out of the snack bag.

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Thank you, Mizzo and Janet, those are some great suggestions! I'll add them to my "toolbox".

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I am both gluten-free and a teacher. One of the things I try to do for my celiac student is to have at least one goodie/sweet thing to eat. For example if the other kids are having cookies or brownies, I try and make sure to take a cookie and then something else like fruit or popcorn. It seems they like it because then they have two things for them since most other kids have more than one thing to eat as well.

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Thanks, Krystynycole, fruit and popcorn are both great ideas! We made a special gluten-free "birthday cake" popcorn mix for her the other day and she loved it. I'll make sure to include a bag of that.

On a side note, my daughter is the first gluten-free kiddo that her teacher has ever had in her class, and she's been teaching a long time. Her teacher has been great with her, and very ready to learn about Celiac's.

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Are other parents providing some of the food? The only thing that concerns me about your plan is that even if some of the snacks are gluten-free in principle, you don't know if they might have gotten CC'd in whoever's house they came from, or in the process of being set out in the classroom. Maybe I'm paranoid -- we haven't actually gone gluten-free yet, so I don't really have a handle on how careful you have to be. But if it were me, I'd be inclined to send her with all her own snacks and not have her take anything from the communal table, unless it's individually packaged.

Anyway, I'll be interested to hear how it goes!

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Yes, cross contam. is always in the front of my mind, that's true. I was concerned about that just from the other kids touching things and contaminating the naturally gluten-free food. The teacher said she could go through the line first and get her food that she could eat from the table.

Our school district won't allow anything that isn't packaged and from a store when it comes in. The parents who put the snacks on the table have to wear the plastic gloves from the cafeteria.

All that being said, the parents who don't have gluten-free kids won't know that they are contaminating things when they touch gluten-y foods and then put out the fruit.

Maybe I'll just make sure I have her favorites from the list the teacher sends me in her gluten-free box and play up the fact that she won't have to wait in line to get her special treats. I'll talk it over with her.

Thanks, Minette!

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We always found it easier to find out what the items were & make our own for our kids.. They take nothing from anyone that isn't wrapped in the original pkgs...

Birthday party treats at school , we just made cupcakes,ice cream & used the teacher's fridge so a goodie was always at school for when another kid gave out treats... Also a safebox with goodies that don't need a fridge...

Year end the school always has a movie /game day with a big feast of junk food!!! pop, chips, veggies, cakes, cookies,fruit, choc fountain... just easier to bring our own for our kid...just makes life easier than trying to figure out how they got Cc& a sick, whining kid later in the day...

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Good points, Mamaw, thanks! I think I will just have her use the food we bring and let her decide what would be yummy to take.

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We avoid any kind of buffet with lots of kids. It's just too easy to cross-contaminate. Maybe next time around you can plan a celebration activity rather than food. We just went to our exhibit night that was a half potluck. My daughter now 13 had a root beer and hung out with her friends. She ate a big cupcake at home before and had a gluten-free pizza when we returned. I used to try to give her stuff but in some ways she found it more awkward to do that.

Anyways there are lots of efforts to get rid of celebrating with food for lots of reasons and it's going to be better for everyone. Lots of school districts ban these now.

I came across this just now looking for alternatives to food celebrations. I thought is was really well done. It has some really good ideas.

http://www.kchealthykids.org/Resource_/ResourceArticle/29/File/HealthyAlternativesforSchoolSnacksandRewards.pdf

These look really fun for a second grader:

General activities to recognize children

Children

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Polly, I'm impressed that your school is so careful with food. Ours is reasonably good in that they don't allow sharing at lunch/snacktime, and they don't allow parents to bring in food for birthdays. But for the Halloween and winter holiday parties it was basically a free-for-all -- some homemade cookies, some store-bought, orange slices that we cut up at home and brought in, potato chips from different bags in the same bowl, crumbs everywhere, etc. At the time I thought it was just great (how care-free!) but now as the mom of a celiac kid, I shudder.

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I just wanted to follow up with everyone and let you know how the party went.

I took her to the store earlier in the week and let her choose some special gluten-free foods to take. Her brothers and sisters helped her choose, so she felt really special with all of the attention. We also cooked her favorite "candy coated popcorn" with sprinkles.

She packed up her box the night before. At the party, the teacher let her go through the line first. It was mostly cupcakes and cookies, so she went straight for the candy at the end of the line. (Okay, so not a very nutritious day) Then, she sat down at her spot and loaded her plate with her gluten-free goodies from her box.

She was very happy and didn't feel left out at all. Thanks for all of the support on this forum everyone!

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One More Update to this story:

When we had our other children checked for Celiac because of this daughter's case, we found that we had two more kiddos with Celiac.

My one daughter, the original one I wrote about here, told her newly diagnosed brother and sister that the best thing about being gluten free was the end of the year party when they get to bring whatever food they want and don't have to rely on what is available at the party. She was jumping up and down when she was telling them this.

I just think the Lord is so good. He took a situation I was so afraid of, like the isolation my daughter might feel at her first end of the year party, and turned it into one of her best memories.

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One More Update to this story:

When we had our other children checked for Celiac because of this daughter's case, we found that we had two more kiddos with Celiac.

My one daughter, the original one I wrote about here, told her newly diagnosed brother and sister that the best thing about being gluten free was the end of the year party when they get to bring whatever food they want and don't have to rely on what is available at the party. She was jumping up and down when she was telling them this.

I just think the Lord is so good. He took a situation I was so afraid of, like the isolation my daughter might feel at her first end of the year party, and turned it into one of her best memories.

That's neat Polly, I am so glad she had a good time! He does work in mysterious ways. :)

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So true! My daughter once said "I am so glad I am gluten free because if I wasnt, I'd never have tried this meal!". Wow. I hated to cook. Ok I still hate to cook but just her appreciating the meal was great. FYI - it was hash browns with talapia on top and then a can of diced tomatoes on top! I found it on a gluten free menu. It sounded gross but with 3 ingredients I figured I could do it. She still asks for that meal!

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