Inviting a big group of friends or family over can be stressful even for the most experienced host. Add a guest with a previously undisclosed food allergy, and all of your party planning could be thrown into turmoil. Guests with food allergies can complicate your holiday menu plans, but there are many precautions you can take as a host to make every guest feel comfortable.

Food tends to be central at holiday gatherings, saysPatch.com.If you enjoy putting serious time and effort into preparing wonderful treats or lavish meals for your guests, you are certainly not alone. Food allergies can complicate the already complicated planning of ingredients, grocery shopping, and cooking, but with allergy rates on the rise, it’s more and more common that you’ll have at least one guest with food allergies.

One thing to keep in mind during the holiday season is that those with severe allergies can’t compromise. No matter how delicious the food looks, which treasured family recipe was used, or which family member brought the food, they must decline. This often seems extreme to those who don’t understand the severity of allergic reactions possible with even a tiny amount of the allergen.

Talking about food allergy issues ahead of time is a respectful and well thought out approach. Learn about the severity of your loved one’s allergy, and whether they will feel comfortable eating food you have prepared, or would prefer to bring your own.

If you know that you will be serving a guest with food allergies, get comfortable reading labels. Brush up on current labeling laws so that you know what to look for, and if possible, ask the guest about ingredients best avoided. Rethink practices like putting out a bowl of mixed nuts; there may be allergy-friendly alternatives you could serve instead.

Second, prepare to avoid cross-contamination. If you do plan to cook with an allergen, be mindful of common sources of cross-contamination, such as sharing serving utensils, aprons, sponges, and measuring cups between recipes, and thoroughly wash anything that has come into contact with the allergen-containing food.

With a solid understanding of what is necessary to protect a friend or family member with food allergies, you can help ensure that all of your guests have an enjoyable time in your home.

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