August 31, 2017
Kids birthday parties are often fraught with social mores and hidden etiquettes, and party food can present a minefield for both guests and hosts alike. Hosting a party can be overwhelming with allergies to consider, food preferences to factor in and a variety of parenting philosophies to accommodate. To simplify party planning and attending, BeeBox has created an Essential Party Food Guide.
First and foremost, no one wants to be left out because of their allergies - and no one wants an anaphylactic reaction on their hands. To this end, there are a few simple guidelines that will ensure the safety of all guests.
Tip for Party Guest Parents: If your child has an allergy make sure you communicate exactly what your child can and can’t eat when you RSVP and include any details of epipens if required. Follow up when you drop off your child to make sure the host is comfortable with your child’s requirements.
Food Intolerances and Food Avoidance
Aside from allergies, there are also dietary intolerances, customs and lifestyles that you may wish to consider. These are trickier to manage. Food intolerances are not life threatening but may result in serious discomfort for a party guest.
While many kids have genuine intolerances, sometimes families make individual choices to avoid particular foods for either cultural or lifestyle reasons. For example, some children may only consume Halal or Kosher foods, and some families may make the decision to avoid sugar, gluten or dairy. It is virtually impossible to manage individual diets within a birthday party environment, particularly at an off site venue.
If a parent mentions these ahead of a birthday party, etiquette dictates that the host make an effort to work with the guest family to prevent the guest from consuming foods that may either make them feel seriously ill, or contravene cultural beliefs or lifestyle choices. Suggest the guest bring a dish that their child can definitely eat if you are having a party at home, or ask the guest for a specific dish you can make that the child will be able to enjoy. Another good strategy is to assume their will be a child that is vegetarian, one that will be lactose intolerant and one that can’t eat gluten and provide at least one dish that caters to that.
Tip for Party Guest Parents: Food intolerances and food avoidance are much more common than allergies and can be more difficult for a host to cater for, so it’s worth making understanding that it may be challenging for a host to cater for a range of different needs. Offer to provide a dish or a recipe for a dish that your child can eat, and make sure you tell them not to share food prior to attending. In many cases, while a host will usually be vigilant in making sure parent’s wishes are followed, the onus may be on your child to know what they can and can’t eat.
Sugar and Healthy Food Options
It’s difficult to even discuss sugar without a range of opinions being set forth and kids parties are the mecca of all things saccharine. This presents a considerable challenge for party hosts in achieving a balance between kid pleasing delicious cupcakes and treats laden with delectable sugary goodness and healthier options that will keep parents satisfied. No one expects people to refrain serving from any sugar at a kid’s party and there is a happy medium.
The first strategy is to provide a range of healthy options alongside the treats. Using food tent labels makes these more enticing: Herbivore snacks and T-rex Trail Mix at a Dino Roar party are much more appetising for example, than carrot sticks and dried fruit. As an added bonus, these sort of snacks are usually perfect for children with allergies and intolerances, and are usually able to be eaten even when families avoid particular food groups.
The second is to provide individual snack packs that offer the advantage of portion control. Party ware options such as the Bento Box (or in some cases noodle boxes) are ideal for minimising sugar intake while still offering the guests sweet treats.
Finally, you may decide to provide a party favour rather than lolly bags. This will reduce the amount of sugar your guests take home with them and gives each guest a memento of the celebration.
Tip for Party Guest Parents: While most of us acknowledge that sugar is not an ideal food group to over eat, hosts are often catering for a range of allergies and sometimes for food avoidance and intolerances. This means that a variety of parenting dietary philosophies are impossible to indulge. Dietary decisions are best taught at home in every day lives; learning to make good dietary decisions is important. If sugar is a significant concern for you, remind your child to practise moderation.
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