6 Tips to Hosting a Party Safely
As I sit here to write this post on how to throw parties with food restrictions, it is snowing and our town is covered in a blanket of fresh powder. There is no better time to be writing this post about parties than when the weather is perfect for the holidays. This is a time of year when so many of us are hosting parties and going to parties. There are friend parties, work parties, neighbor parties, religious parties, etc. For those of us that live with food allergies, celiac disease, and/or food restrictions for health reasons this can feel like a hard time of year. Most, if not all, parties include food. One way we have learned over the last 16 years living with food restrictions is that hosting parties can be one way to ensure all of the food is safe and to lessen the stress of unsafe food everywhere. In this post, we will go through the steps we take to throw a safe and delicious party. You can most definitely throw a party with great food that is safe for everyone. We are here to help you be successful. Here are 6 tips to host a party safely. If you have any questions, let us know.
- Plan Your Guest List- While this is obvious, it will help you in the planning of your party. Is it a party of kids, adults, or a mix of both? How well do you know this group of people? All of these questions will help you plan your party well. Each of these groups may require different types of food or conversations.
- Invite Guests and Talk Food with them- Just as we want people to ask us if we have any food restrictions, we need to ask our guests as well. We don’t always know our guests well so be sure to ask if any of them have food restrictions. This allows us to be good examples to others of the importance of asking about food restrictions and also helps us know our guests better. We have also found this is a great opportunity to share that we have food allergies and celiac disease so we know how important it is to ask.
- Conversation about Food and Food Restrictions- This is of course the most important for those of us with food restrictions. If your guests ask if they can bring anything, it is important for you to consider your comfort level with this. Whether you are or are not comfortable with this, here is how we handle these conversations. We do not beat around the bush, nor do we apologize for having food restrictions. It is a very open conversation, no big deal. We do it often. Reminder, this is just how WE do it. Please just use this as a guide and then do what you are comfortable with.
- If you are not comfortable with a guest bringing food, just thank them for offering. Tell them your family has food allergies, celiac disease… and it is easiest for your family to provide all of the food. We only let a handful of people feed our family because we know them well and trust they understand the severity of our food restrictions. This conversation is typically no big deal. Guests usually understand and then they are very aware that we have food allergies and celiac disease. We don’t shy away from telling people this, it’s important for people to know.
- If you feel comfortable with them bringing food: We say something like, thank you so much for offering to bring food. Our family has food allergies and celiac disease. There are many things we must do to ensure food is safe in our house. If you would like to bring food, we are happy to let you know how to do it safely for our family. There are many things to take into consideration and we are happy to walk you through them. If that feels like too much, we are more than happy to provide all of the food, it’s no problem at all. If you would still like to be able to bring food, let’s have a conversation about it.
At this point, we get VERY specific about safe food prep and what would be easiest for the guest to bring. We want them to feel like they can safely feed our family and be successful doing it. Don’t overwhelm your guest with something complicated. We want them to understand our needs and see how easy it can be to feed us. This is an opportunity to kindly teach your loved ones about your needs and why. For example, we have them bring a veggie tray or simple dish. If they purchase it, great. Ask them to send you photos of what they want to purchase and ingredients or tell them the brand that is safe for you to ensure the safety of your family. If they want to prep it themselves we talk about:
- Using a clean cutting space and what that means (no cutting boards, sanitized space with antibacterial wipes, on a plate from the dishwasher or paper plate)
- Using a knife and other utensils straight from the dishwasher not from the drawer where cross contamination is very likely
- Baking is often the easiest with aluminum foil then parchment paper, using a single use aluminum container, or glass/ceramic dish that comes straight from the dishwasher. All kinds of veggies, potatoes, and meat can be easily baked safely.
Leave it at those few items or it gets too complicated which isn’t necessary. Remember, we want people to understand our needs AND know that they can successfully (and easily) do it. This is all normal for those of us with food restrictions, but doesn’t cross others minds. They are still simple for our guests to adhere to. When your guest brings safe food, please be very thankful for their effort to love your family and keep them safe.
4. Food to Eat- The fun part, ha! Yes, we do think food is the fun part of a party, even with food restrictions. When we plan a party we talk about food in depth. All of our kids have birthdays in the fall so we just got done throwing a whole lot of parties! We ask our kids what food they would like to have served at their party. All of our kids are tweens and teens so they want food for parties, and lots of it. They will write out full lists of what kind of food they want. There are of course lots of snacks, dessert, and a main meal. As our kids get older they want parties over main meals. In all honesty, this used to feel stressful, but now it’s no big deal. Here is how we keep food simple and delicious for everyone, whether it’s kid parties or includes adults too. We don’t announce that our food is safe for food allergies and celiac, we just feed people and they don't know any different. That’s when you know you have hit the jackpot! Our goal here at Rustic Scoop™ has always been to create food that is loved by those with and without food restrictions. Our community needs people without food restrictions to know that the food we eat is amazing, not weird. That it tastes amazing, and there is no reason to make more than one meal. We are all about one meal, one table, to bring unity to you and your loved ones.
- Make the food simple- appetizers and main course. Think about foods that are naturally free from: fruit, vegetables, meat (unless you are vegan of course), etc. Putting together fruit and veggie trays are easy to do. Making a simple chicken or beef dinner is always loved as well. Here are a few examples of simple foods we have done for parties: baked potato bar (all toppings are in separate dishes and within our comfort level), tacos (who doesn’t love tacos?!), grilled chicken or steak. A side of rice and potatoes and you have a full meal.
A bit more than simple- main course. These are on our party food list more often than not.
Our Rustic Scoop™ Fluffy Yeasted Pizza Crust recipe is a staple here at many parties. We often get rave reviews from all of our family and friends without food restrictions on our pizza crust. Picky kids love it and have no clue it is “free-from”. We recently had a child look at me while I was making pizza for the party and exclaimed, “ You MADE the pizza dough?!!” It was hysterical. Apparently it’s impressive to make pizza instead of ordering it too, which was new to us. The other beautiful thing about this recipe is that you can make the crusts long before a party and freeze them or make the dough up to a week ahead of time. This allows for little to no stress the day of the party. For kids, we often make individual pizzas so everyone can get the toppings they want.
Our Rustic Scoop™ Hamburger/Hot Dog Bun recipe is easy to make and can also be made ahead of time. We freeze our buns all the time so we have buns ready when we want to BBQ. This makes it quick and easy to BBQ hamburgers and hot dogs with friends and family.
- Our Rustic Scoop™ Sub Roll recipe is super easy to make as well. Who doesn’t love an amazing sub sandwich?! You can make them before the party and have them cut into small portions like you bought them. This allows you to put whatever toppings on that are safe for your family and will delight your guests.
Dessert, everyone’s favorite part. We have so many dessert recipes on our website, you could party all year long. :) We do everything we can to make our dessert recipes simple and easy for you to make and delicious to eat. Here are a few of our top desserts for you, but there are more on our site.
Rustic Scoop™ Chocolate Cake and Cupcakes. This mix is so easy to make and we have customers buy it by the case. It is our best selling mix, with good reason: People like to have parties! Our Rustic Scoop™ Chocolate Cake and Cupcake mix also makes amazing chocolate donuts. Both are party worthy.
Rustic Scoop™ Vanilla Cake. This summer we were able to make a vanilla cake mix using our Pancake and Waffle mix. People have been loving it!
Rustic Scoop™ Vanilla Donut Bar. We like options for our guests so many of our recipes have lots of options for parties. These vanilla donuts are well loved and having a donut bar has been a huge hit for parties! They also make for great party games to see who can eat them the fastest without any hands. We were all nearly in tears laughing watching this game go down.
Rustic Scoop™ Whoopie Pies. These have a chocolate peppermint option which is perfect for this time of year. They are so good and well loved. There are other flavor options for other times of year as well since we know people have parties all year round.
Snacks, a party with kids must have snacks. Again, think simple and naturally “free-from”. Popcorn, charcuterie boards are simple and fun with fruit, cut veggies, meat, safe cheese if you can and feel comfortable with that, chips, gluten-free crackers (so many options), and little safe candies strewn throughout.
5. Plan Activities- Food shouldn’t be the main focus of a party. Parties are for being social with your loved ones so be sure to plan fun activities for your party. That will be different for everyone, but important nonetheless. Having activities also helps to alleviate stress from families with food restrictions that feel like everything surrounds food. While there will be a lot of eating at a party, it doesn’t need to be the central event.
6. Planning in Reverse- Once you have invited your guests, you know who is coming, you have decided on the food and if guests will be helping, it’s time to plan ahead so throwing your party isn’t stressful. Throwing parties don’t have to be stressful even with food restrictions. Most of the planning ahead will be with food to be sure you have a full safe list of what you need to buy and prepare. Be sure to order our mixes at least a week before you have your event so you have enough time to get them shipped to you. For other items make a detailed grocery list of things you will need to pick up. Decide if you will be making any of the foods ahead of time. If so, prep them as early as you can/need. We typically start prepping about a week in advance for parties so I can shop ahead of time and prepare some foods as well. That way if I have forgotten something or decide to add something, I have plenty of time to do that.
Doing all of these things has made parties fun and without stress for us. We can enjoy the time with our loved ones at the party instead of worrying about food or other details. Whether you are throwing a party for a few friends or a houseful of people, enjoy the process. This is often a great teaching opportunity for us with new friends about life with food restrictions. We strongly feel that it is important for our community to lovingly teach our loved ones about life with food restrictions and to also feed them our amazing food. Both of these things will greatly impact our community in a positive way. We hope you have many parties ahead of you to create wonderful and lasting memories.