Marty’s Birthday Party Guide
Advertorial feature brought to you in partnership with Marty’s .
Written by Emma Amoscato.Advertorial feature brought to you in partnership with Marty’s .
The world of birthday parties can be tricky to navigate for any parent – how much do I spend on a present? Do I have to invite the whole class? – but it has an extra level of worry when your child has food allergies.
I have been through all sorts of experiences with my two allergic children, from friends who have catered a whole allergy friendly party just for them to turning up and seeing children smearing dairy covered food across the play equipment.
We don’t expect you to cater for our children’s dietary needs but it is amazing when you do. My children recently went to a party where the mum was giving out cupcakes in the party bags. With milk, egg and nut allergies this is no-go for my kids, but she had gone to the trouble of buying them special safe rocky road and packaging it up just like the others. Gestures like that mean the world.
Children with allergies is an issue many parents will have to address when planning a party. It can seem like a lot of extra work or responsibility, but a few simple steps can make it so much easier and more inclusive for everyone
1. Ask about dietary requirements
The earlier you can start the conversation, the better. Parents of children with allergies will always appreciate it if you ask about dietary requirements on the invitation, as it gives them a chance to talk about it without feeling awkward or demanding.
2. Find out what the parents want to do
Some parents may be keen to work with you to find allergy-friendly foods, while others will feel more comfortable bringing their own.
3. Keep food separate to play
Where possible, try to keep all food in a separate area so that children with allergies can play safely. It is stressful and potentially dangerous if food is dropped or smeared on equipment, especially with young children who are more likely to put things in their mouths.
4. Make small changes
When you are not used to dealing with allergies it can seem like a huge challenge but there are lots of small changes you can make. For example, use a dairy-free spread and no one will ever taste the difference! And lots of regular party food can be allergy friendly too.
5. Keep packaging
It will be really reassuring to parents if you can keep the packaging for any products you serve so they can double check ingredients. Sometimes food may seem suitable but may not be because of the manufacturing methods.
6. Understand cross contamination
Some children can have allergic reactions from very small amounts of food. This means you need to be careful about using separate utensils and it is also a good idea to let children with allergies get their food first at buffets before other people have put their hand in the bowls!
7. Provide wipes
One of the simplest things you can do to help stop spreading allergens around is to get the children to wipe their hands after eating. Baby wipes are fine and easy to hand out but hand sanitiser doesn’t do the same job in removing the allergens.
8. Learn how to use an adrenaline injector
Learning how to use an adrenaline injector is a great skill to have and essential if a child with allergies is going to be left in your care at a party or play date. Ask the parent to talk you through it – it’s really easy to use! The parents will probably stay if the child is young but older children will usually carry their own medication.
9. Communication is key
It’s not always possible to make all the food suitable for children with allergies, especially the cake. That’s OK. It’s your child’s party and obviously, you will cater for their tastes. The important thing is that you let the parents know so they can provide an allergy-friendly alternative and the child doesn’t feel left out.
10. Think about non-food treats for prizes and party bags
Making a party inclusive for children with food allergies goes further than just the food – think about activities, prizes and party bags too. Kids love getting non-food treats that will last longer.
Emma Amoscato is the bestselling author of Living With Allergies: Practical Tips For All The Family.
Emma is a former national features journalist and has written for The Times, The Guardian and The Independent. When her young son had an anaphylactic reaction in 2014 she set up her popular blog Free From Farmhouse where she helps others by sharing allergy advice, recipes and her family’s experiences.
After her second child was also diagnosed with multiple allergies, she still couldn’t find a comprehensive and practical book on the subject, so she decided to write one. Emma is passionate about empowering people with allergies and raising awareness to keep them safe and included. She regularly speaks in the media and at events including The Allergy And Free From Show and works as a brand ambassador and consultant for the allergy industry. Emma is also a judge on the Free From Food Awards, Free From Eating Out Awards and Allergy UK Hero Awards.