The latest research shows that 8 percent of children in the United States have food allergies, which means that even if your kid can eat her weight in peanut butter and jelly or egg salad, she'll probably have a friend who can't.
Here are tips from Sandra Beasley's "Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales From an Allergic Life" on how to host an allergy-friendly kids party:
1. On party invitations, mention upfront if there will be a food-centric theme, such as decorating your pizza or assembling gingerbread houses.
2. If the parent of a food-allergic child contacts you before the party, offer to put out a "safe" dish (prepared by the parent and dropped off with the child) amid buffet items.
3. Choose dishware that comes in a variety of colors instead of a uniform print. This will help an allergic child avoid accidentally using someone else's tainted cup or fork.
4. If traditional cake is being served, don't make a big production out of cutting and handing a slice to each guest. If ice cream is being served, have a nondairy fruit sorbet on hand that can be substituted without drawing attention to the milk-allergic child.
5. If crafts will be a focal point, beware of common allergens that might be ingredients in art supplies, such as glue (milk), modeling clay (wheat) and tempera paints (egg).
6. Giving out goody bags? Be sure any food you include is thoroughly wrapped. Crumbs from a cookie or chocolate's oils can contaminate the toys bundled beside it. If games are being played for prizes, always have the option of a nonfood prize.