How to Host Guests with Food Restrictions

Try these simple solutions and recipes to host guests with dietary restrictions, and create a gathering everyone will enjoy — including you!

| November/December 2018

  • Consider guests with special dietary needs when planning menus for your holiday shindigs. With just a little preparation and creativity, you can accommodate guests with dietary restrictions while completing your hosting duties with your sanity intact.
    Photo by Getty/SolStock
  • Avocado oil is a good butter alternative that can be used for medium- to high-heat cooking and baking.
    Photo by Adobe/Africa StudioppQp
  • Ground flaxseed works as a great egg alternative. Simply whisk 1 tablespoon of finely ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water to replace 1 egg.
    Photo by Adobe/cegli
  • For a simple, allergy-friendly side dish, whip up some steamed, roasted, or baked vegetables prepared with a dairy-free fat, salt, and spices.
    Photo by Adobe/Mara Zemgaliete

Holiday hosting is a big job that can be stressful — cleaning the house, making sure you have enough seating, planning the menu, braving the grocery store chaos, and, of course, cooking. Throw a guest or two with food restrictions into the equation, and you can almost feel your hair turning gray!

Though the holidays are a time for indulgence, this isn’t so easy for those with food allergies or intolerances. These guests aren’t trying to be difficult, nor are they just glorified picky eaters. While food intolerances aren’t potentially life-threatening like food allergies are, they can still cause a tremendous amount of physical discomfort and gastrointestinal distress, and nothing kills the holiday spirit like a stomachache.

So it’s important to consider guests with special dietary needs when planning menus for your holiday shindigs, however big or small. And, with just a little preparation and creativity, you can accommodate guests with dietary restrictions while completing your hosting duties with your sanity intact!

Plan Ahead

When inviting guests to your festivities, ask them to inform you of any dietary restrictions. They’ll be grateful you did, and knowing this information ahead of time will allow you to properly prepare.



Some of the most common food allergens are dairy, gluten, eggs, nuts, soy, and shellfish. A guest with restrictions will most likely mention one or two of these. But if they respond with a seemingly endless list of restrictions, take a deep breath. You’re a holiday host, not a personal chef who can cater to one person’s every need, especially someone on the more extreme end of the spectrum. Nightshade intolerances? Low-FODMAP diets? It’s perfectly fine to respond by politely saying, “I’m sorry, but I can’t accommodate this many restrictions. I will, however, make sure the main course and two sides are prepared so you can enjoy them. And please feel free to bring your own appetizer, sides, and dessert should you like! Thank you for understanding.” Far more often than not, they’ll understand and be thankful for your consideration.

If you’re planning a potluck-style party, perfect! Guests with intolerances can bring a dish suited to their needs. Let them know to do so when you’re assigning appetizers, sides, and desserts to guests.



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