By Guest Blogger Suzy Fielders
Hosting a child’s birthday party usually takes a lot of work and can sometimes even be stressful (OK most parents reading this are probably thinking it’s almost always stressful), but for those of us that have kids with food allergies it only adds to that stress. Planning food and especially desserts, like birthday cake, can pretty much feel like a ticking time bomb of stress, but don’t worry there are ways to alleviate that and have a stress-free and safe birthday party for little ones with food allergies!
I’ve found the best way to give advice is living through it firsthand yourself so I want to share mine and my daughter’s story first. My daughter was diagnosed with food allergies when she was 18 months and, unfortunately at that time, she was allergic to a ton of stuff including tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and milk. After a few months of drastic change in our diets, everything seemed to level back out – until her birthday came around and I realized I had to deal with figuring out what to do about getting a cake…
This was back in 2008 when food allergy options and labeling wasn’t as present and available as it is now. So the only option to get a food allergy friendly cake was at Whole Foods, and restricting the options even more was the fact the only way to get a cake without eggs and milk was to have a vegan cake.
The day of the party rolls around and the cake is picked up, and all goes off without a hitch until cake time. The cake was absolutely terrible. Watching everyone’s faces simultaneously as they took that first bite was pretty hilarious though…still makes me laugh. If only we had video recorded that. They might not be so thrilled reading about it again now though – sorry everyone!!
Lesson was learned though that the best way to get a good birthday cake is to make a homemade one. While I’m not bad at cooking, baking isn’t really my favorite thing so if you are like me then maybe see if someone else in your family would like to make the cake. Every year my step-mom makes them for my daughter’s birthday and well she should go into professional cake making as they are always awesome! I also know she will always be sure it doesn’t contain any allergens and be safe as it’s homemade.
Below are a few of my favorite cakes she made over the years for my daughter’s birthday parties!
If you plan on hosting at a venue, like a children’s museum or gymnastics studio, then be sure to let them know you do not want to include cake or food as many birthday venues do that now. That should also lower your rental price!
As far as serving other foods, it’s best to prepare the food or buying (and read closely all the ingredients) yourself. While it might seem tempting to take up people’s offers on bringing something, unless they are a trusted family member or friend and really know your child’s allergies it’s not worth the risk and stress of taking that chance.
To avoid the stress of having to do all the food, limit what you’ll be serving. Select a birthday party time that is not during lunch or dinner hours so a full meal won’t be needed, and you can serve just snacks which are much easier to prepare. Or if you really want to offer a meal, do something easy but you know is safe, like for us that would be pizza or cooking out hot dogs/hamburgers.
These are just a few things I’ve learned along the way to help deal with planning a birthday party for a child with food allergies. I’m looking forward to my daughter’s upcoming 10th birthday being fun and allergy safe!