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How to Handle Dietary Restrictions at Your Child’s Birthday Party

menu at child's birthday party

Creating an Inclusive Menu at Your Child’s Birthday Party

Dietary restrictions can be a challenge for a birthday party host, but with some clever problem-solving, your party food can be delicious and inclusive.

You send out the invitations to your child’s birthday party, including a note to please communicate any dietary restrictions. You get a slew of RSVPs and an equal number of dietary considerations. You wonder, “How the heck do I feed this group of kids?” It really doesn’t need to be that challenging. Read on for six smart ways to easily navigate dietary restrictions at your child’s birthday party. 

Make a list of the dietary restrictions and get clear on what they mean.

First things first: Know what you’re dealing with. Make a list of the guests and who requires what dietary consideration. If you’re confused about what any of the restrictions mean for your menu, don’t be afraid to reach out to the parents to ask for clarity. This will help you to make a plan that is safe and inclusive for everyone at your child’s birthday party.

Once you know what foods are safe, plan your menu.

There’s no reason you can’t create a plan for food that will work for everyone. Fruit and veggie platters can be customized to items that everyone can eat, plus they’re easy to make vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.

If you decide to serve an entrée, make it customizable. A top-your-own pizza bar, for example, will allow everyone to choose what works for them. If you have guests with gluten sensitivities, you can have a gluten-free crust on hand. Pick up some vegan cheese during your party shopping for vegan guests. Have a range of toppings so everyone is happy.

Go with an easy-to-control dessert.

Baked goods can be challenging if there are a lot of dietary restrictions to consider. But of course kids still deserve a sweet treat! Homemade popsicles allow you to control the ingredient list, so mix up a few flavours the day before. You could also purchase a cake or cupcakes from a bakery that specializes in allergen-free desserts.

Be sure to label everything.

This is especially important if any of the kids at the party have severe allergies. Many kids with major allergies will have learned to ask about ingredients, in order to avoid their specific issue, but if you label everything carefully, it will be safer for everyone.  You can also use coloured plates to indicate certain types of foods (for example, everyone on green plates is vegetarian, pink plates means gluten-free, etc.).

Plan the party for a couple of hours between meals and provide non-food loot bags.

Sometimes the easiest way to handle dietary restrictions is to avoid food altogether. You can host a short party after lunch but before dinner with a non-food parting gift—stickers, colouring books, small toys, puzzles, etc. This way kids leave with something fun, but you don’t have to worry about accidentally making anyone sick. 

Remember that dietary restrictions can be embarrassing for kids.

It might be a little annoying for you to plan around dietary restrictions but imagine how the kids feel. If you go the extra mile to ensure everyone has options your child’s birthday party, you can avoid unnecessary embarrassment. The parents of party guests will also be very grateful to know their kids are in considerate hands.

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