Entertaining For Food Allergies: A Whole-Foods, Allergy-Friendly Holiday Meal Plan

pinnable allergies entertaining

In need of a whole foods, allergy-friendly holiday meal plan? Jessica has you covered!

By Jessica, Contributing Writer

Do you have family or friends with food allergies? It can be tricky feeding folks on special diets, but I can help!

Unfortunately, I know it well…because we’re the ones with the food allergies. We’re the ones with special requests, the anxious bringing-our-own-dishes, the trying-not-to-be-rude refusals.

If you’re trying to cook for someone on a special diet, I just want to say one thing.

Thank you.

I know it’s not easy. I know it involves extra headache, extra researching, extra cost substituting this or that. I am so, so grateful for people like you.

Your guests might not even notice all your hard work. They might not see you washing the dishes “one more time,” just to be safe. They won’t see how you spent a few extra dollars to make the dish allergy-friendly. They may not get it.

But here’s the thing…He does. How comforting that lesson has been to me in my silent struggles!

But back to the matter at hand. You have these guests, some gluten-free, some who can’t do dairy, all hungry…What can you feed them this Christmas season?

I have a great menu for you, but first here are a few quick but important tips regarding cooking for people with food allergies. Don’t skip these!!

  • Wash your hands prior to cooking and handling food.
  • Wash your dishes and counters before cooking. Even if they’re clean. It sounds harsh, but we’ve learned the hard way with my little guy, Sam, that even a residue of milk in a pot, yogurt in a blender, baked egg in a pan can cause an allergic reaction. I know, I know…it’s a pain. Remember the part about how God sees all your hard work?
  • Even if something “seems” safe, it may not be. We learned this lesson the hard way, too. My son had a terrifying reaction to some store-bought sorbet that “looked” safe. Now we know which brands of things we can use, and which we can’t.
  • Bottom line: Ask your guests! If you have friends with food issues, just talk to them. I’d like to make this…I’ll use this and this…Is that okay? I always feel so honored and grateful when anyone takes my son’s allergies into consideration when making the menu.

Okay, so now, the meal plan! Here’s my go-to whole-foods holiday menu that is allergy-friendly (free of gluten, dairy, eggs, and nuts).


I often have guests in my home a day or two before “the big meal.” For these meals, I like serving a cozy, casual-type dinner that can simmer on the stove (or the crock pot) as guests come and go.

TJ chili



I like doing a “light lunch” for my guests so we don’t spoil the big meal. Here are a few ideas:

Allergy-Free Appetizers:

Main Dishes


pinnable sweet potato casserole



Are you hosting guests with food allergies? What is on your whole-foods, allergy-friendly holiday meal plan?


PlanToEat 125x125This post is sponsored by Plan To EatPlan To Eat was born from our desire to eat real food — great food — prepared at home, together as a family. Plan to Eat is an online menu planner that uses your recipes, scheduled for the days you want them, automatically generating your grocery list, organized the way you like to shop. Eat well. Eat together.

About Jessica Smartt

Jessica Smartt is a former middle-school teacher who lives in beautiful North Carolina. You can find her at www.smarttereachday.com where she enjoys poking fun at the everyday challenges of motherhood, sharing delicious allergy-free recipes, and rejoicing that God still loves her no matter what phobia she has recently developed. She is blessed beyond belief with two Smartt little boys and a husband who can fix anything.

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  1. When my large extended family gets together we have MANY allergies between us. This is new territory for most of us. Oddly, we can still all eat gluten/wheat. But we have over 20 other things we can not have in group dishes, including dairy, eggs and soy. I linked this post in tomorrow’s post. It is really good advise, and some good recipes.

    • Crayl, I kind of know what that’s like, except I’m the one with all the food intolerances — dairy, eggs, and soy included. But I also have friends with whom I share certain intolerances. I’ve recently started sharing my recipes on my blog to help others facing challenging restrictions. There are certain ones that are fairly common. I love Judy’s idea, and I’m fortunate to have friends who will try to make something I can eat when they’re hosting.

  2. Jessica, this is great advice and wonderful menu ideas. Though my family does not deal with severe allergies, I have several friends who do and it would be so hard to see them come to gatherings and rarely get to participate in the food — I’m a foodie who loves to see people eat together, it’s special. It has changed my thinking when planning any party, even ones where I don’t know if someone has an allergy, there is always something gluten free, especially if it is a main dessert like birthday/graduation cake. It is such a pleasure to see their faces light up when they know they can join in, talk about how good something tastes, hold a plate and napkin instead of being empty handed and not feel different or have to explain. It is always worth the effort or extra cost. Always.