How to Throw a Party for All Dietary Preferences

Group of people at dinner party
Photo: Thinkstock/monkeybusinessimages

My gluten-free, dairy-free aunt and dairy-free cousin recently threw me the most spectacular baby shower. They thought of every detail — including how to please the more than 30 guests with various dietary preferences.

First, they had a “mom-osa” bar, which I appreciated greatly since alcohol is a thing of the past for me right now. I enjoyed sipping my sparking water with a splash of pineapple juice and fresh berries. Champagne was available for those who wanted to imbibe.

They also had a buffet of Greek food including hummus, baba ganoush, tzatziki sauce, pita bread, fresh cut vegetables, tabbouleh and stuffed grape leaves. It was the perfect light meal for a shower and the buffet-style service allowed people to pick and choose the foods that were appropriate for them.

My aunt made two desserts. A scrumptious zucchini spice layered cake with traditional buttercream frosting and a platter of gluten-free white champagne cupcakes, which meant everyone could enjoy a celebratory treat.

If hosting a party — and this is the time of year when many of us do — you are likely to have guests with dietary restrictions or food allergies, and the last thing you want is for them to be left out of the food festivities. At the same time, trying to please everyone can be exhausting.

Follow these four tips to help you throw a party for all your guests, no matter their dietary preferences

Get the Details

RSVPs aren’t just for confirming attendance. They also are important to gather insight on any special dietary needs. Whether guests call, text or email their response to your invitation, be sure to have them include any food allergies or preferences so you can plan accordingly.

Explore Your Options

Once you know the dietary needs you’ll need to consider when creating a menu for your party, it’s time to jump on the computer and find recipes that will work. Find collections of recipes online that are devoted to dietary preferences and also explore cookbooks designed for specific diets.

Allow Guests to Customize Their Plates

If you have guests with various dietary needs, it may be easier to offer a deconstructed menu and let guests build their own plates with foods they prefer. The key is to provide a variety of add-ins, condiments and toppings. For example, you could have a build-your-own yogurt parfait bar with various fresh berries and fruit, regular Greek yogurt, coconut yogurt, nuts, gluten-free and regular granola, honey and cinnamon. A salad bar or taco bar also are easy meal options that give guests options.

Offer Two Variations of the Same Meal

You also can create two variations of one meal to please all your guests, such as a regular and a vegetarian chili. It may be more work for you, but your guests will appreciate the time and effort you put into making sure their needs were met. This also is a good option if the party calls for a specific or traditional meal.

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Gillean Barkyoumb
Gillean Barkyoumb, MS, RDN, is the creator of Millennial Nutrition, a hub of nutrition information for health-conscious foodies. Get inspired by connecting with her on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.