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Hosting a Dinner Party with Food Sensitivities In Mind

Dinner party in downtown Kitchener with food sensitivities in mind

Hosting a dinner party used to be a little more straight forward: Invite Guests, Make Food, Eat, Drink, Laugh, Have a Good Night!

It's a little bit trickier these days with food intolerances/allergies/aversions being more commonplace. With a little bit of thought and planning, hosting an inclusive dinner is easier than you think. Here are 5 tips on how to host a dinner party with food sensitivities in mind:

Salad and pizza gluten-free dairy-free options

  1. Contact your guests: Send a message to all of your guests telling them you are excited to plan a menu and would be so grateful if they could let you know of any food intolerances/allergies/aversions/etc.

  2. Create a Sensitive Ingredient List: When everyone gets back to you, compile a list (alphabetically) of all ingredients that were identified as intolerances/allergens/aversions by your guests. Have this list with you during menu planning, grocery shopping and hosting.

  3. Choose Buffet or Family Style over Plated: This will be the most flexible way to accommodate your guests. With this in mind, select a style of dinner that offers flexibility such as: tacos, buddha bowls, build-your-own pizza. Keep any pre-purchased dips and condiments in their own containers for ingredient list referrals.  

    Depending on the restrictions, you may need to simply offer two options for your guests. This works well when there isn’t an allergy. For example, meat chili and veggie chili with regular and gluten free bread options. Prepare equal amounts of each option and invite everyone to try both dishes, while ensuring any guests with restrictions get first dibs. The two-option method works well for intolerances and aversions. A much more cautious approach must be taken when considering a menu that is sensitive to severe allergies. It’s best to have a conversation with this guest and consider eliminating all allergens from your menu, or get advice from them in regards to the best ways to make accommodations.

  4. Eliminate opportunities for cross-contamination: Cross-contamination can happen when a small amount of a food allergen gets into another food accidentally.  Make sure you have separate serving bowls and serving spoons for everything.

  5. Introduce your guests to your menu before dinner: This is a fun moment to simply go over what you have prepared.  Be inclusive and try not to put anyone on the spot. Welcome questions from your guests.  Simply go over what you have prepared and identify any ingredients that were on your list of intolerances/aversions/allergens.

Dinner party downtown Kitchener

Example Menu:

I’m hosting a dinner party in March. The theme is Pizza & Parlour Games. My 25 year old self loved all the planning and work leading up to a dinner party. My 35 year old self doesn’t. So I’m ordering pizza, as well as a veggie and fruit tray from Legacy Greens, and calling it a day. I have a guest with a gluten, dairy, egg, and soy intolerance plus a guest who is vegetarian. So here’s what I’m going to order:

  • La Cucina Rustica Pizza (my favourite pizza ever) - for the meat and cheese lovers
  • La Cucina Margarita
  • La Cucina Vegetariana
  • A custom Panago Gluten Free Pizza without cheese (After researching gluten free pizza options, Panago's crust was also free of soy and egg, which are also on my list). And I'm a big fan of Panago, my favourite West Coast Pizza Chain :)

Final tip for hostingRecognize and celebrate that you tried your best. Don't stress if everything isn't perfect, and don't be offended if one of your guests chooses limited ingredients from your spread. The important thing is to make an effort while being inclusive (and to have fun at your party!). Need some advice, come and talk to us at Legacy Greens, your neighbourhood grocery store in Downtown Kitchener :)

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