Dos and Don’ts: Accommodating Dietary Needs at Dinner Parties

by in Entertaining, March 7th, 2012

dinner party
So, you’re hosting a dinner party and one (or more) of your guests has a food allergy. What do you do? How do you manage this? Some people do not accommodate special dietary needs at their dinner parties. And while I understand the frustration with the myriad of food needs out there, the question I would ask before I make that decision is: Do I want all my guests to feel welcome? If the answer to that question is yes, then here are a few dos and don’ts to help you navigate this social minefield:


• Share your menu plan (including a full ingredient list) with your food-allergic guests. If you are using prepared food, like sauces or spice mixtures, save all the ingredient lists for those as well. Ask them to bring up any concerns they might have.

• Ask them if they have any suggestions on making the food safe for them. How concerned are they about cross-contamination. (i.e., How allergic are they? Do you need to buy new sponges? What if a spoon from the pasta dish touches the soup — is that okay?)

• Be flexible (within reason). If you can make small tweaks to a recipe to make it safe for your allergic guest, please do (many recipes call for butter when olive oil can be easily substituted).

• Ask them if they want to bring something to the party, either just for themselves or for the whole party. My personal preference is to bring something, like a dessert, for everyone to share.


• Be insulted if they bring food from home or choose to eat before they come. Having food allergies can be very difficult socially, and for many people, preparing their own food is the best way for them to relax and be able to enjoy your company.

• Be afraid to ask them for help or guidance. Planning a party is stressful enough; they will not be insulted if you ask them to help in making the food safe for them. They will be grateful that you care enough about their health and happiness to ask.

Lillian Medville makes grain-free, dairy-free, cane sugar-free, and soy-free recipes for the very first time on camera at Lillian’s Test Kitchen, an online comedy cooking show.

More posts from .

Similar Posts

How to Host a Football Party

Celebrate the big game with a party centered around your coffee table....

Comments (24)

  1. Susan Maria says:

    As someone who hosts many gatherings I am of the opinion that too many people use 'that they are allergic' or 'intolerant' as an excuse when they do not like something. I do not ask anyone about dietary preferences as I know that If someone is truly allergic or has a situation they will tell me if they need to. I live with dietary restrictions and would not dream of informing my host of such as I dont want my situation to affect the entire party. Even when they know of my situation and ask me because they truly care, I find that it complicates things and turns into an education process. I instead bring something wonderful that I can eat and share with everyone if appropriate.

  2. ak18 says:

    I love to cook and a few friends at work have allergies (some to various nuts and one to gluten). I always warn them when I bake something they can't eat but try to bring something they can the next time. A good friend of mine just found out she's highly allergic to eggs and slightly allergic to dairy (we realized we'd essentially poisoned her the week before with homemade pudding, but she was glad she ate it before discovering her allergies). As she's over very often, it definitely has made our cooking a little more complicated, but also a fun sort of challenge to find good stuff she can eat (particularly for dessert).

    Our tastiest discovery so far: we froze some bananas, then cut them into pieces and put them in the blender with some strawberries, cocoa powder (dutch process, no risk of powdered milk), a little sugar, and some rice milk (rice drink? whatever it's called) to make it a little more liquid. It was a delicious milkshake/smoothy without any milk. And since it was a blended banana instead of ice cream, it didn't melt!

  3. I’ll right away seize your rss as I can not find your email subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you have any? Please allow me recognise in order that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  4. paulaking says:

    Good topic. I try to prepare basic Paleo dishes that way most allergens are avoided. Best Paleo Cookbook

  5. Mark says:

    Be insulted if they bring food from home or choose to eat before they come. Having food allergies can be very difficult socially, and for many people, preparing their own food is the best way for them to relax and be able to enjoy your company

  6. MenuTrinfo says:

    Great points, especially about specifying ingredients!! It's always important to consider food allergies when cooking for a crowd!

  7. Yes, it's always helpful (and does a lot to assuage my fears of getting accidentally "dairyed" or "glutened" or "soyed" or "sugared") to be there when the food is being prepared. That way there are no surprises and we can all just enjoy the evening and each others company!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>