people at a dinner party

Tips for Attending a Dinner Party With Food Allergies

Last updated: October 2022

Let's outline a situation that can get awkward with food allergies: you get invited over to a friend's house for dinner and drinks, yet you have an entire list of foods you can't eat, which you know will complicate the host's menu.

Avoiding an awkward invitation

There may be no awkwardness if it is a close friend or family member inviting you. Perhaps they know about your food allergies already, and you've established precedent about the foods that are safe to eat. But what if someone invites you over for a dinner party, but you aren't extremely close friends? What then?

Inform the host about your allergies

First, it is imperative that you inform the host or person who invited you that you have food allergies. These simply aren't food preferences but are a matter of safety. This way, the host understands, and if they are thoughtful, they will accommodate and ask more questions to ensure your safety.

If the host doesn't take it upon themselves to ask you about what foods you can or can't eat for dinner, make sure you let them know, kindly, that you can bring foods that will be suitable for you.

For example, Jamie invites you for dinner at her house Friday night. You reply, "Thank you so much, Jamie! I would love to, but I have food allergies, so maybe I can bring my own dish?"

I am sure Jamie will then take it from there and ask about your food allergies. Suggest what she can make; maybe all you need to bring is a side.

Open and honest communication

In other words, you can efficiently work through this with communication. Be open. Be honest. Be polite. Offer assistance to the host if they don't know how to accommodate a specific food allergy.

Having a close relationship makes things easier

I get invited to dinner at friends' and families' homes often. Of course, it's simpler now because I have close relationships with them, and they understand my food allergies well. It took time to get it down to a science!

Typically, they'll invite me, and I'll ask what is being served. Then we go from there. But the point is, being open and not feeling shame by hiding your food allergy is critical. It makes for a seamless and more relaxed experience.

Don't show up empty-handed!

In addition, it is always nice to show up with a side dish, salad, appetizer, or something to bring to the host regardless, for 2 reasons.

First, my mother always taught me never to show up empty-handed at someone's house when invited for dinner. Second, it is always wise to show up with food you know you can safely enjoy regarding food allergies.

If you make a side dish and bring it, you know the ingredients, you know you will enjoy it and not have a reaction, and therefore you have a backup plan.

Eat a snack before the dinner party

Lastly, don't show up to a dinner party extremely hungry. Because then you can make poor food choices and might try something new that you shouldn't eat. I suggest eating a small snack beforehand so that you can still enjoy the food but won't suffer if you can't have all the food being served.

Overall, the biggest takeaway is being open and honest. Let your host know about your allergies and immediately offer solutions and offer to bring a dish or 2. It is entirely possible to make it work with the host. As long as you communicate and are willing to provide help, your plans will go on without a hitch.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Allergies.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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