When entertaining, there are two secrets to a host’s success: An ability to bring together people and create lasting memories, and the foresight to see — and resolve — problems before they arise. Once a week, our resident experts Mindy Lockard and Coryanne Ettiene will weigh in with helpful advice to help the modern host tackle even the stickiest of situations with grace. Have a question you want answered? Send us an email with your dilemma, and then check back every week for new tips and advice.
This week’s question:
I have a lot of food allergies and always feel uncomfortable when attending an event. What's the best way to handle this so I don’t insult my host — but also don’t go hungry?
Coryanne: I have a "delicate palate," which is a fancy way of saying I am a horribly picky eater, so I know how uncomfortable it is when you arrive at a party and feel dread when you see something you won't eat. If you are a friend of the host and it is a true allergy or aversion, be honest with them and offer to bring a side dish that will complement their menu. If you are a plus one guest, bring a general appetizer that is universally appealing, like a crudité platter or selection of cheese and crackers. With a barbecue, luck is on your side, as often times the host isn’t watching what you do or don’t eat (plus it’s usually buffet- or family-style, so you can choose what you want to eat). Serve yourself only what you can eat, even if it is just your appetizer or salad, and don’t draw any attention to your dietary restrictions.
Mindy: Where etiquette is concerned, there is a difference between being a picky eater and having food allergies. As someone with many food allergies, I can feel your pain... Literally. I suggest making a quick call ahead to explain that you are excited to attend, but wanted to give a heads up about your allergy. It’s at this point you can offer to bring a dish for everyone that fits the menu that you can enjoy. Remember, when attending events, it’s less about what we eat and more about how we connect. If worse comes to worse, eat something before, what you can while you are there, and then fill up when you get home. If you don’t make a big deal about it, neither will anyone else.
About Our Experts: Mindy Lockard is The Gracious Girl and offers traditional etiquette advice with a modern gracious twist. Coryanne Ettiene believes entertaining at home should be an everyday affair; she shares contemporary advice for modern living at Housewife Bliss.