June 8, 2011

Party time! What I am packing?

It seems like the moment the chilliest days are gone, our family hops on the kiddie birthday party circuit.  In the last five weeks alone, the kids have been to six parties.  It's been a lot of fun but my kids' food allergies (milk, peanuts, tree nuts) definitely require a bit more behind-the-scenes preparations.

Here are things I like to take to every party:
  1. Homemade safe cupcakes -  In addition to being free of my kids' allergens, I like to make these egg-free.  I often bring extras to parties in case there are other party guests who are vegan or egg-allergic.  For school parties, I pack one cupcake in a holder like this.
  2. Safe party foods - If I know in advance what's being served (like pizza, pasta, or chicken nuggets) I try making a close but safe alternative if I have the time.  (Yes, I did boldface the "if".)  I also pack fresh fruit and some crackers in case snacks accompany a main meal.
  3. Allergy medications - Our allergy med pack (with antihistamine and Epi-Pen. Jr.) comes with us everywhere even if I don't plan for my kids to eat any party food.  Always be prepared even in familiar situations because cross contamination and accidental ingestion can occur anywhere.
  4. Personalized cups - After two experiences in which other guests drank from Ryken's cup or juice box by mistake (and nearly having a panic attack each time), I began bringing our own cups to parties.  I use Take 'n' Toss cups and write my kids' names on them with a permanent marker.  Their cups stand out in the sea of juice boxes and paper cups.  Chances are high that no other kids will have the identical cups especially with names like theirs. 
  5. Sharpie permanent marker - I'd rather have my guys drink from their Take 'n' Toss cups but sometimes the juice is better left in a box.  Having a permanent marker is great for labeling juice boxes.  I also use it to write the kids' names on the edge of their plates. 
  6. Allergy IDs - We use STATkids wristbands.  They have a white-on-red contrast that makes them stand out.  I do have to make sure to adjust the bands so that they aren't covered up by long sleeves.  And with the popularity of silly bands and silicone wristbands, adults might not pay as much attention to them, bright colors or not.  The wristbands are good to use as an alert but please don't rely solely on these to keep your kids safe among others.
  7. Wet wipes - Ideally we wash our hands with soap and water before eating...but that's not always possible.  :)  
  8. Me - Well, me or my husband.  My kids are only 5 and 3 so it's not unusual that we parents would stay for a kid's party.  But as the kids get older, I'd still like to stay for the duration of the party.  My thought would be to contact the host's parents in advance of the party to introduce myself, explain my kid's allergies, and ask if it would be okay for me to be present to check labels and keep an eye on Ryken/Callan.  I always offer to make allergy-friendly birthday treats such as wacky cupcakes or chocolates if there are food-allergic guests besides my kids.

What are some of your must-brings for parties?

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