The holidays are a time for celebrations that largely revolve around food. For someone with food allergies, it can be particularly stressful, as the need to be safe comes in conflict with a desire to be social.

By following a few simple tips, you can participate fully in the joys of the season while taking care of your health and being of little inconvenience to loved ones.

Start the Conversation

RSVP as soon as you receive a party invitation. Talk to your host about your food safety concerns, including cross-contamination through handling and preparation. Offer to provide tips to create an allergy-friendly event, such as proper cleaning of dishes and color-coded utensils to identify those that have been in contact with allergens.

Bring Safe Food

Hosting an allergy-friendly party can be difficult for many people, especially during the busy holiday season. Offer to bring your own safe food that you can eat and share with others. That way, you’ve removed the burden from the host and can participate in the festivities.

List the Ingredients

Keep the labels of food you make and encourage others to do the same. An index card that includes everything included in the recipe and the chef’s name provides a handy reference for others with food sensitivities. It also gives a point of contact for anyone who has questions about how and where the dish was made.

Fill Up Before

Last-minute invitations may cause anxiety, whether they take place at a restaurant or a private home. Restaurant staff may have little knowledge of potential food allergies and you may not have the chance to discuss the issue with the host. If you don’t know whether you will be able to eat anything on the menu, eat before you go and keep some snacks with you.

Do the Hosting

If your neighborhood or close friends gather for holiday celebrations, offer to make the food for everyone. All guests can contribute by bringing non-food items such as napkins, utensils, beverages, games and party favors. You can still make sure your party is allergen-free while making food that is tasty and satisfying for all participants.

Play It Safe

You may do your best to avoid allergens, but may nonetheless come into contact with something that causes a severe reaction. Stay on the safe side by bringing an epinephrine auto-injector or another device that can offer quick relief before medical attention arrives.

Consider wearing a medic alert bracelet or necklace to keep those around you in the loop about your allergy. With that information, they can get you proper assistance if you are unable to describe what’s going on in the middle of a reaction.

Even though you may be eager to join in on the holiday fun, think twice about consuming too much alcohol. Although spirits may not cause you to have an allergic reaction, they may lower your defenses or cause you to use improper judgment. On impulse, you may reach for food you would otherwise avoid due to allergies.

Enjoy Yourself!

Remember holidays are about celebrations. Many hosts are happy to take steps to ensure you are safe at the gathering and can participate. Be social and do your best to keep people informed and aware.