It’s about that time of year when our mailboxes start filling up with invitations to holiday parties. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, all three, or another religious day, you’re likely to be celebrating in the coming month with families, friends and coworkers. With these celebrations come high expectations for spectacular foods. For people on a gluten-free diet, it can be an overwhelming experience to attend these large gatherings, especially when they don’t take place in your own home. You’re left with little access to food labels, potential sources for cross-contamination and fear of being the “annoying” person at the party for asking too many questions.
To help alleviate the holiday party jitterbugs, I’ve put together a list of tips to help make sure you’re gluten-free safe and well fed at any party you attend.
Tip 1: Plan ahead. As soon as you’re invited to a party, start thinking about the options you’ll have for food. You don’t want to wait until the last minute because chances are a last minute request during the holidays will not be accommodated.
Tip 2: If the party is at work, speak to the person responsible for setting up the catering and let them know early on that you’ll require gluten-free options. Check back in with them the week before the party to make sure your request is remembered.
Tip 3: If the party is at a restaurant, find out who the main contact is and ask to be put in touch with a restaurant manager or chef. Speaking to this professional in advance will help the restaurant plan for your arrival and have an option ready for you when you get there.
Tip 4: If the party is at a family member or friend’s home, call the host immediately and ask about the menu they are planning. Make sure they are familiar with preparing food for someone on a gluten-free diet and that they understand how to prevent cross-contamination. If it seems like there are very few options for you to eat, volunteer to bring a dish or two so you make sure there’s plenty of food for you to eat.