Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An I Love New York Birthday Party...How to Accomodate a Gluten Free Guest

My daughter turned 12 a couple of weeks ago, and we had an I Love New York party for her. I normally don't post a lot about my non-cooking adventures, but I wanted to share about this party we did because we had a little girl come who has celiac disease, and I wanted to make sure she could come and enjoy herself without feeling uncomfortable about the food. Lucky for her it was me throwing the party and I already have a pantry stocked with gluten free goodies. But anyone can make these small changes to a party menu for a gluten free guest.

First of all, I have to brag about our party plan. What can you do at an I Love New York party if you're 12? We ate dinner first: spaghetti eaten with chopsticks, to salute two dominant cultures of the city...Italian and Asian. I made some Tinkyada noodles for our gluten free girl and the sauce was gluten free. I also made a simple green salad (all the girls ate this, and I was surprised! Usually salad is frowned upon in this age bracket.) and garlic french bread, which our guest didn't eat but didn't seem too upset about. Root Beer and Sprite rounded out the menu. So far so good. We had mini-New York Cheesecakes for dessert in these giant muffin liners. I used this recipe for the filling and crushed up graham crackers and melted butter and pressed a spoonful in the bottom for a little mini cheesecake, then refrigerated them for about 4 hours. I just left the crust out for my gluten free girl and marked her first initial on the liners so no one would mistakenly take them. I could have easily used some Smoreables from Kinnikinnick for a crust, but I was all out so I just left it plain.

For the birthday cake, we wanted cupcakes, so my awesomely tech-savvy friend JoLayna made me some cupcake toppers with New York-themed icons on them. I kept it cheap and just used a Betty Crocker mix from the store and tinted the vanilla canned frosting Statue of Liberty green.I used this recipe to make some chocolate cupcakes that were gluten free and put them in a different colored liner so they would be easy to keep separate. They were also huge because I had to use my jumbo muffin tins, but I didn't mind that and neither did our friend! I frosted and decorated them the same so that they weren't that noticeably different from everyone else's. I know it's kind of a pain to make an extra batch of cupcakes for one kid, but if you're good friends with their mom and you want to be generous you could send some of them home with them. Or give them to a gluten free co-worker or neighbor. These actually taste great so you might just eat them yourself!

I also had big red apples out for decorations or snacks on all the tables. (Get it? The Big Apple?) We used black, red, and white with a little bit of Statue of Liberty green. I made tissue paper pom poms a la Martha and hung them from the lights in the dining room and the kitchen.These pictures are all pre-party so the serving plates were empty, but during the party I filled them with garlic bread and cheesecakes. The girls played all sorts of games, like splitting into teams and dressing each other like the Statue of Liberty using toilet paper, making up a dance to Sinatra's New York, New York, and designing a dress for Fashion Week with paper and markers. The prizes for the winners were candy bars. Then we watched "You've Got Mail" and had hot chocolate and popcorn, both of which are naturally gluten free. It was basically all about eating, but that's what kids like to do together at this age. We had a great time and I don't think anyone had a bad night, especially our friend with a food allergy. I sent each girl home with a gift bag filled with a big red apple, Hershey kisses, a "New" York peppermint patty, a bouquet of sharpened pencils, and a light blue box from Tiffany's (not really but it looked like it) with a ring inside...a ring pop, but still a ring.

For more birthday ideas like these, check out The TomKat Studio's blog at her new website. She is the master and my photos don't even compare to theirs, but you get the idea. It's easy to make a party fun and even allergy free with just a little bit of forethought.

Happy eating and party on!

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