Christmas is right around the corner, and if you are like me, you are starting to feel a little tense. No matter how long you've been living with food allergies in your family, chances are there is always some level of anxiety around the holidays. School parties, family gatherings, new holiday food products, treats on your front porch...it all seems manageable at first but can start to snowball after awhile.
So how do you balance the special activities and events with careful attention to your family's special dietary needs? Here are my top tips for managing food allergies during the holiday season.
1. Ask in Advance
In my experience, assuming a party will be safe for our family's food allergies is never a good assumption and often turns out not to be true. Even if everyone attending the party knows of your food allergies, chances are pretty high that someone preparing food for the event will not remember those special needs while in the kitchen getting ready for the big day. It always helps to remind the host of your needs in advance and to kindly confirm that food is safe before allowing your family to dig in. Also, ask if your family can go through the line first, if possible, to avoid cross contamination from serving spoons being used in multiple dishes or foods accidentally becoming mixed together.
2. Be Willing to Contribute
There are people out there who can attend events and parties without being involved at all in the planning or preparing for the special occasion. You are not one of those people and neither am I. :) Take it upon yourself to offer to bring a dish along to contribute to the occasion. Make sure that item is something that the people in your family with food allergies will enjoy eating- just in case it turns out to be the only dish you feel is safe.
3. Keep the Staples Stocked
Find safe peppermint candy canes and keep a few with you at all times. I find that a lot of public places hand out these types of treats during the month of December and it helps to have a brand you know is safe with you so you can easily switch out the treats.
4. Beware of Holiday Specials
A lot of companies have a limited edition holiday flavor this time of year. Don't assume these treats are safe just because the regular version has been safe in the past. Read the label carefully and contact the company if you are unsure of their processing practices.
5. Making Special Treats and Ordering Online
If you are a skilled baker and love spending hours making chocolate treats, go for it! Make it a fun family activity and enjoy making memories together. If you are short on time, energy, or interest in preparing treats from scratch, look into ordering treats from Vermont Nut Free Chocolates , Divvies, or Premium Chocolatiers.
Merry Christmas to you all! Have a happy and safe holiday season!