Before you start making a list, grocery shopping, and food prepping, you need to do some early planning with your guests. Either call your guests or request they send in their food allergies along with their RSVP. Request they notify you of the severity of their food allergies, too. For instance, someone may have a deadly food allergy. If peanuts are even in the same room as them, it could trigger an anaphylactic response. Others may have a more minor allergy, where they can be in the same room as the ingredient, but consuming copious amounts of it would put them at risk for a bad reaction. Perhaps you have an abundance of guests that follow a vegan diet; you may decide to throw a dairy-free, meat-free party. If there’s only one or two vegan guests, opt to make a special dish or two for them. And if you can, choose foods that are already dairy-free or meat-free. Sometimes alternatives to these foods aren’t always the most appetizing. Especially if you aren’t used to cooking that type of food, it’s best to just choose simple options.
A buffet-style option might be the best way to ensure everyone feels satisfied when they’re done eating. Consider a food that requires plentiful toppings, like a taco bar or baked potato bar. Toppings should be clearly separated and include individual serving utensils in order to prevent cross-contamination. Include multiple options to appease everyone, from the vegetarians and vegans, to the gluten-free party-goers and the ones following special diets for weight loss. Whether you decide to have one main dish with toppings galore, or you decide to make several complex dishes, an ingredient list for everything is an absolute must.
When you’re cooking, you need to be especially mindful of cross-contamination. If you have someone with an allergy to fish, make sure it is prepped carefully so that it does not contaminate any surfaces other food will touch, whether it’s your knife, cutting board, frying pan, or oil it’s being deep-fried in. You also need to practice good hand hygiene as you cook and serve the food.
Throwing an allergen-free party doesn’t meant that you can’t have a bountiful spread of multiple options. Get creative and stick with organic, whole ingredients as much as possible.