Saturday, January 19, 2013

Child's Birthday Party Needs Allergen-Free Alternatives

Dear Tazi:

My daughter "Janie's" eighth birthday is approaching, and she wants to have an ice-cream sundae bar instead of a cake. This will be much more expensive than giving her just a cake, but her heart is set on having a make-your-own-sundae bar, and I agreed to this theme - before I discovered that her best friend is lactose intolerant.

"Susie" cannot digest lactose in any form, which I discovered while discussing Janie's birthday party plans with Susie's mother after a recent play-date. Susie's Mom expressed disappointment that Susie would be unable to attend the party if I go ahead with the sundae-bar theme, unless lactose-free ice-cream was also provided as an alternative.

Tazi, I have already eliminated nuts from the sundae bar to accommodate allergies, which was not a problem since I was able to replace nuts with crushed pineapple as a substitute topping. Must I accommodate Susie's allergy, too? As far as I know, she is the only child who suffers from lactose intolerance, and lactose-free ice-cream is not cheap! The smallest size I could find was a 1.5 quart size for twice the cost of normal ice cream! There is no way Susie would eat that much ice cream! Couldn't she just take a Lactaid pill or have a sundae without the ice-cream, putting the toppings on fruit instead? I would hate to see my daughter's best friend excluded from her birthday party, but it seems that there is no other way, short of scrapping the whole idea of a sundae party altogether.

Not All Screaming For Ice Cream

Dear Not All Screaming For Ice Cream:

There has to be some place to compromise between Susie missing her best friend's birthday party and forcing her to choke down a pill that her mother obviously does not want her to take. Since Susie cannot digest lactose "in any form" this rules out most lactose free ice-creams, which still contain about 1% lactose.

As long as Susie is cool with it (that is how the kids say it, right?), I think the idea of a fruit-base alternative is a lovely idea! What kid wouldn't want to add chocolate and/or caramel sauce and whipped cream to a bowl of sliced apple or  banana? If you were to go with this idea, I would make it available for all of your party guests, not just Susie. This would serve two purposes: Susie would not feel singled out by being the only one served fruit instead of ice cream, and children who are not fond of ice cream will not be forced to eat it.

Well now, this looks yummy!

I would suggest you refer to the party as a "fruit and ice cream sundae bar" on the invitations and let the chips fall where they may. If Susie's mother still demands that lactose free ice cream be provided, she will have to provide it herself. A good host does their best to accommodate the tastes of their guests; a good party guest does not make unreasonable demands on the host.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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