Holiday Hosting for Guests with Food Allergies
This month’s blog post is near and dear to my heart.
If you have followed Uncommon for any length of time, you have probably heard us talk about my dietary needs. I have a long history of stomach issues that have caused pain and heartache throughout my adult life. But as the senior pastor from my church says, “Sometimes your greatest misery can become your biggest ministry.” As I have walked this road, the Lord has used my experience to help others and has given me a new perspective on all types of human needs.
I hope this post can help hosts feel confident in providing food and a holiday experience for guests who need a little extra attention this Christmas season! Whether your guest has a dietary preference or they are anaphylactic to certain foods, I believe any host can provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all guests by following these five tips:
Here we go!
Rule of Thumb: Whatever experience you provide to a “normal” guest, provide a comparable (or same value) experience for your “allergen friendly” guests. You might have to get creative and it will take a little more work BUT your thoughtfulness and attention to detail will NOT go unnoticed.
2. Go to The Source! As someone with allergies, I know hosting me can sometimes be a pain. It requires more thought, more attention to detail, and it is usually more expensive! I HATE being an inconvenience to others. Even if I’m not, I feel like I am. Meet your allergen-friendly guest where they are at. Let them know that hosting them is a JOY, not an inconvenience and that you simply want to provide for them. Ask your guests questions about their allergens (like how severe they are), their comfortability, and their favorite brands. Here are some questions to get you thinking & talking:
Can you eat ________________?
What are your favorite _____________ foods?
What is your favorite brand for _______________?
Would you feel more comfortable if I bought everything premade? Or could I try cooking/baking for you?
Is cross-contamination an issue for you?
Cross Contamination: inadvertent transfer of bacteria or other contaminants from one surface to another (Example: using the same spoon to stir when cooking, using porous materials that aren’t able to be washed/sanitized, etc.)
Does your food need to come from a dedicated kitchen?
Would you like your food served in a separate area, away from the other food dishes?
3. Cooking + Baking 101: If your guest feels comfortable with you cooking/baking for them, always remember to make their food first with clean (washed & sanitized) dishes, utensils, cutting boards, etc. Do not mix your cooking/baking up with regular recipes… finish all your allergen-friendly foods first and then move on. One more thing when cooking/baking for your guests: If they can not consume food that is cross-contaminated, do not use the following: cast iron, waffle maker, griddles, etc. … Anything with a porous surface that doesn’t allow you to fully clean is a big NO-NO!
For AWESOME allergen-friendly (for the top 8 allergen-free) recipes visit: https://allergyawesomeness.com/
4. Save The Wrappers: When hosting guests with allergies, keep all boxes, wrappers, and ingredient lists. That way if your guest has questions about the food being served they can look with their own eyes. This can give guests peace of mind knowing exactly what is in the food they eat!
5. Better Safe Than Sorry: With some guests, it’s better to purchase premade food for them. Leave the cooking/baking up to the experts! Guests with severe allergies require food from dedicated kitchens and my guess is your kitchen is not that. Do your research or ask your guest their favorite local or national brands that provide food from dedicated kitchens. You can also look into local restaurants & bakeries that specialize in their allergy needs. One last thing! Pre-packaged goods are always a great idea … here are 3 brands that are free from the top 8 allergens:
We hope that you feel more confident going into the holiday season with all of this in mind! We know your guests with allergies will feel loved and cared for.
Now go enjoy all of your hard work, already! It’s time to party!
The Uncommon Team