Party food can be one of the elements at a children's party that stresses parents out the most. Getting quantities right and then making sure there is a balance of healthy food and treats can be a complicated balancing act.
But what if you have a child attending with food allergies? What can you do then to make sure their needs are catered for without making lots of extra work? Read on for our top tips on how to cater for a child with allergies.
Make sure you know
Seems obvious and most parents of children who have allergies will be pretty hot on letting you know. However, to make sure, always include a line on your invitations saying "Please notify us if your child has any food allergies". You will then be confident that you have all bases covered.
Talk to the parents
Rather than second-guessing what a particular child can eat, it is always best to speak to their parents. They will probably be able to give you a list of safe foods and save you spending hours in the supermarket pouring over labels.
You will probably be surprised to find that for dairy-intolerant children, they can quite often have food like bourbon biscuits, party rings and Hoola Hoops, but some brands of sausages and Pom Bear crisps are a no go. If you do need to check any labels, remember that anything with lact or lacto in the title contains dairy.
Also do consider if any of the children are vegan or vegetarian. Things like sausages are obviously a no go here, but lots of sweets that we traditionally put in party bags can contain glycerine which is an animal product.
If any children have severe allergies, then the parent may prefer to send them with their own food. Don't be offended by this. It can be the easiest and least stressful way to resolve the situation for everyone.
What about the cake?
There are many recipes online that cater for various dietary needs. We have listed a few here:
Dairy Free Birthday Cake recipe
Gluten Free Birthday Cake recipe
Egg Free Birthday cake recipe
If baking a cake sends you into a cold sweat, then you will find that most professional cake makers will be only too happy to cater for any allergies. The recipes are so good that no one will notice the difference and everyone can enjoy a central part of the birthday celebrations.
Top Tip: Most parents of children who have allergies will be pretty hot on letting you know. However, to make sure, always include a line on your invitations saying "Please notify us if your child has any food allergies".
Tell your entertainer
Make sure you let your entertainer know if there are any children attending that have food allergies. They may give out sweets or chocolate coins as prizes during the party so it is important they know beforehand so they can bring substitutes.
Should I make the parents stay?
In most cases if the children are under 5, then it is likely the parent will stay with them anyway to supervise. Most children from school age upwards who have allergies are pretty au fait with what they can and can't have. However, it is probably a good idea to get one of your adult helpers at the party to just keep an eye out for them at food time, for your own peace of mind.
Another way to be absolutely sure that the children don't eat anything they shouldn't, is to use the party food boxes or plate up the food in advance. Then you will know that all the children are eating what they should be eating. As long as you make contact with the parents concerned and take the precautions mentioned above, everyone will have a great party and get to enjoy lots of lovely treats.
If you would like some more tips on children's party food, then take a look at our post in our FAQ's section here.