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Spin-Off from RSVP Etiquette: Do You Accommodate?

Poll Results: How do you accommodate special diets? Check all that apply.

This is a multiple choice poll
  • 10% (39)
    I ask them to notify me of special diets on the invitation.
  • 19% (75)
    I will make at least one modified main dish, or an extra filling side dish, for guests with dietary restrictions.
  • 11% (46)
    I generally assume that there may be vegetarians in groups of over five guests, and plan accordingly.
  • 17% (69)
    I order more than one kind of pizza for guests, as a matter of course. You never know!
  • 11% (43)
    I do not serve pork if practicing Jews or Muslims will be present.
  • 3% (14)
    I do not serve meat if vegetarians, religious or otherwise, will be present.
  • 0% (3)
    We only have potlucks so this does not apply to me.
  • 1% (7)
    I never invite guests over so this does not apply to me.
  • 0% (2)
    I think it's not a big deal and people should eat what they are served.
  • 18% (70)
    I know my friends well enough that I can plan meals around their preferences and needs without having to ask.
  • 0% (0)
    I'll accommodate for religious or ethical reasons, but not health ones.
  • 0% (1)
    I'll accommodate for health reasons but not religious or ethical ones.
  • 0% (0)
    I just lie and tell them it meets their standards. They'll never know.
  • 0% (1)
    Everybody likes chicken!
  • 3% (14)
384 Total Votes  
post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 

I can't imagine having a party for people I didn't know reasonably well or care about.  That said, it seems that a lot of vegetarians, vegans and people with allergies and sensitivities are used to bringing their own food.  I can understand the guest not expecting to be accommodated, or not asking for special food, but as the host, how do you feel about it?


In my opinion this poll applies to nearly all sizes of parties.  After all, in a small group, you know everyone reasonably well, while in a large group, you can expect some diversity in diets, right?  So regardless, you make a choice to accommodate or not.


Check all that apply.

post #2 of 54

We're a vegetarian household.  I have no idea how to prepare meat (I've been vegetarian since I was a child), and would be extremely uncomfortable handling it, or preparing it in my kitchen.  I have, in the past, ordered things to be catered or prepared by a meat eater, and brought, if necessary, but otherwise we are a meat free household.  I will buy cold cuts, or hot dogs and hamburgers, if a meat eater will prepare them.   



  • I ask them to notify me of special diets on the invitation.
  • I will make at least one modified main dish, or an extra filling side dish, for guests with dietary restrictions.
  • I generally assume that there may be vegetarians in groups of over five guests, and plan accordingly.
  • I order more than one kind of pizza for guests, as a matter of course. You never know!
  • I do not serve pork if practicing Jews or Muslims will be present.
  • I do not serve meat if vegetarians, religious or otherwise, will be present.I know my friends well enough that I can plan meals around their preferences and needs without having to ask.
  • I know my friends well enough that I can plan meals around their preferences and needs without having to ask.
post #3 of 54

Knowing people or not, some people don't bring up their restrictions so you just don't know.  Tomorrow I'm throwing a party for about 55.  There's no way in the world I could know all of their dietary restrictions (especially when your invited guests bring a guest) so I offer a variety and leave it at that.


If I know in advance, I completely accomodate them by making a separate dish.  We usually modify instead of creating a new thing.  For example, we threw a small dinner party and the guest of honor requested braised short rib ravioli.  No problem.  His wife is a vegetarian and she's Jewish.  We made this really awesome mushroom ravioli for her. 


I've had guests not tell me until I serve something.  That is always...interesting.  My husband has ran to the kitchen on a couple occassions to come up with a quick alternative.  I would much rather know in advance.


Tomorrow night?  I have a variety of things and have purposely ordered 1/3 of the main thing vegetarian.  Would I order it just for me?  Nope.  But trying to make all your guests comfortable (within reason) is part of being a host.  I'm also serving beer.  I hate beer but others love it.  I even bought the beer drinkers special "beer" cocktail napkins.  LOL.


I have a couple dietary restrictions - at other homes I simply eat around things I cannot have.  If asked I will tell them why but I don't obsess over it or make it a big deal and I've never brought my own food.  But I only have a couple of things that bother me so it isn't a big deal usually.

post #4 of 54

For people who come over to the house, I generally know their restrictions.

When we had a family we didn't know so well come over this past summer, I asked the mom if they had any restrictions. They serve mainly vegetarian in their house, and the dad is a veg., but their boys like to have meat. So, we did tostadas - everyone could choose what they wanted. We also did tostadas at DS's recent b-day party.


We don't go entirely meat free when veg come over, especially when DH cooks, as he is from a meat-eating culture. But, there are always enough options for veg eaters. All our Jewish friends and family eat pork, so we're off the hook there. :lol



I've been the guest who doesn't say anything until it's time to serve. (just last Sat night). I didn't want the hostess to have to go out of her way to accommodate me and my many restrictions. She was cooking a meal with all the dishes from the Czech Republic, as they had just spent some time in Prague. I didn't want her to have to change new (to her) traditional recipes she was preparing. There were enough things I could eat safely, and I made sure I ate something before I went over for dinner so I wouldn't be super hungry. If DS had been with us (same restrictions), I would have said something in advance or brought safe food for him.


On other occasions, I have said something in advance. For example, when the host asks in advance, I'll tell them and work out a menu together. But I always offer to bring something. I guess this is a long way of saying, "It depends. I don't have regular rules I follow." SUBMIT

post #5 of 54

I don't have guests very often, but when I do, it's almost always close family members (e.g., my parents or DH's parents) or it's close friends. We never invite over more than four or five people, and usually just two.


Special dietary needs don't really apply to the people we have over. Preferences, yes, and we always accommodate that (e.g., my dad doesn't like Mexican or Chinese food). The only thing I can think of is that DH's parents try to eat a low sodium diet in general, but they make an exception when they eat out, so we don't try to make low sodium versions of dishes. I figure if they'll eat the high sodium foods served in restaurants they can handle what we serve.


We did have an extended visit with DH's parents once (about a month I think), during which I cooked dinner every night. Because it was such a long visit, I made low sodium food (and salted the heck out of mine and DH's!).


Oh wait! My dad is diabetic and can't have sugar. But that doesn't come into play anyway, because we don't really eat sugar here... I guess if I was going to serve dessert at all, I'd make a sugar-free version or alternative for Dad so he didn't have to watch everyone else eat dessert and do without.


I guess I would accommodate pretty much anything in a small group. Large groups are another matter entirely. I guess if for some reason I wanted to invite over a bunch of people and wasn't sure of their dietary needs, I'd just make a wide variety of foods and stick a post-it note to all of the serving dishes ("no pork, gluten free", "vegan", "vegetarian", etc.). Or I'd have a list of the ingredients for everything I was making, and I'd send that out in advance of the big dinner so people knew what they could and couldn't eat. Not something I've really thought about, though...



post #6 of 54

I don't entertain often.

Unless I know that everyone eats meat I would automatically provide at least one thing that was vegetarian friendly.

The other issues of religion, food allergies, or another health issue depends on if I know about them in advance and know how to accommodate them.

I'd rather have a guest tell me up front that they need to be careful of xyz instead of them just not eating and finding out afterward that everything I served was bad for them.

post #7 of 54

My "other" is that I don't ask for information about special diets on the invitation, but I will call around and talk to people directly, and I make sure to ask them about dietary requirements then. We don't have parties that are so big that it's difficult to do that. In fact, I rarely do written invitations. *lol* Usually it's in person or by phone or e-mail.

post #8 of 54
Thread Starter 

I do a lot of inviting on facebook nowadays, so there usually is a written invite.


I need nut-free people to TELL ME because my entire house is nut-contaminated.  Nuts are a major snack and despite my best intentions, my kids eat them out of the kitchen.  I would probably even run everything through the dishwasher before someone with a severe allergy came over--seriously, it's that bad.  We had to wash DD's hands before she went to school in a nut-free school and then there as well.

post #9 of 54

I mentioned in the other thread that I ask about whether dietary restrictions are by choice or for allergy reasons.  I will absolutely accommodate either, I just want to know just how fanatically careful I have to be about cross contamination.  I will wash everything in between use for someone who has a preference.  I will make an allergy free food dish in a separate space with sterilized *Everything*.  We have friends with serious anaphylactic reactions.  You just don't mess around.

post #10 of 54
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I probably could not prepare nut-free in my kitchen without it being a serious burden.  I'd have to buy something pre-made.  Or pre-wash my fridge.  I mean if it were one of the more serious allergies.  Lighter allergies are obviously not a problem.  I agree that it's not something I would want to mess around with.

post #11 of 54

I always try to have a variety.  We actually rarely have meat dishes, we will have fish dishes, but since DH is allergic to all meats but fish, we tend to not make meat dishes when we entertain, it is just not something we buy often.  If I know there will be people there with specific dietary restrictions I do try to meet them.  That being said some are easier then other for us, like we can fairly easily do some Vegan and milk free dishes, since DD can't really have milk. Having to make a meat dish would be harder. No pork or shellfish won't be a major issue, and basic Kosher dairy is doable, but I don't have a Rabinically blessed kitchen or seperate dishes for my milk and meat dishes, so anyone who is fully Kosher would be harder to serve, unless I buy prepackaged items.


I do try to keep in mind dietary issues though and make sure there is at least something each guest can eat, and if I need to make something for someone with an allergy or preference, I do try not to cross contaiminate my utensils, so that it stays safe.  That being said some things like nut free or milk free if the person is truly anaphalatic would be harder for me to accomindate then just basic kosher or vegitarian or vegan or milk or wheat free, due to choice or less severe reactions.


Generally when we get together with friends we do a potlock type deal though.  So it isn't as big of an issue since anyone with major issues just brings something they know they can eat, and everyone is careful with serving spoons and forks.

post #12 of 54

I can tell you from an allergy mom stand-point that I was much more comfortable bringing my own food and would not have been offended if there were nothing to feed my daughter. Although I appreciated the thought, it made me more uncomfortable to explain to someone that my dd still could not eat the ____ that they took the time to prepare even if they didn't put nuts in it. I kept a nut-free kitchen and researched every ingredient when I baked. It was much easier when people knew we were bringing food and left it at that. Thankfully, my dd outgrew her allergies.


Now, I haven't really hosted anyone with special dietary needs lately, except my SIL doesn't eat pork or red meat, so we make sure there is something for her. It's really no big deal. If we invite my dd's friend to her party this year, nuts are an issue, and i will find out from mom how they usually handle parties and what her comfort zone is. If her dd can eat a certain type of food, I'll be sure to have it on hand. I know that she gets cupcakes from a specific bakery, so I'll probably ask her where and keep packages of all other foods sealed and ready for her to read.

post #13 of 54

We sometimes have people over that my DH knows from work, so I don't really know them. I expect to be told ahead of time if they have any special concerns (allergies, preference, whatever).


I see it as part of my job as hostess to make people comfortable, and accommodating simple things is part of that.  But there is a line for me. If your child has a long list of foods that can't/won't eat, please bring their own food. I'm not going to get it right anyway, so I don't see the point in trying. Just one or two foods to avoid? Sure, I ENJOY making you comfortable in my home, that's why you were invited. I had to be diary free when BF one of my kids, and I really appreciated people going out of their way to make that easier for me.


But vegans who are gluten free and only eat organic and have this one brand of whatever that is the only one their child will touch? Sorry, but it's just too complicated for me.   Just bring it with you.


Your basic vegetarian? No problem.

post #14 of 54

I voted for the same 3 that most other people did. My two closest friends are vegetarians, so this is definitely on my radar and I err on the side of assuming there'll be at least one vegetarian present if I'm unsure. 


I did want to address your assumption that people only host parties for people they know well. My kids are still little enough that parents usually stay when I invite their kids to a birthday party. Many times, I know the mom vaguely from saying hello at school, and have never met the dad at all. In most of those cases I would have no idea whether they were vegetarian, but they would have no trouble eating at my parties either way. 


For severe allergies or other severe restrictions, I think guests should either let me know well ahead of time (in which case I'd be happy to accommodate them) or bring their own food. I mean, if they can't even be around peanuts without having a fatal reaction, that's something I need to know before I even do my menu planning, you know? 

post #15 of 54
We rarely have guests we don't know really well. I've never asked for preferences and can't imagine myself doing so. I just figure anyone who feels strongly enough will let me know. I've never gotten an invite requesting requests for accommodation, either. I figure if someone really needs something, they'll ask for it. I have a closely-knit, informal family and group of friends, so i can't imagine anyone feeling uncomfortable making a request.
post #16 of 54

If it came up, I would make at least one special side dish. I'd also order more than one kind of pizza, but I didn't vote for that, because I've never done a pizza party (except one of ds1's, and he and his guests chose what two pizzas they wanted, and I just ordered them). I'd accommodate for health, religious or ethical reasons. I'll also accommodate for "pickiness" if I know about it. However, I would serve pork if practicing Jews or Muslims were present and/or meat if vegetarians were present. I'd just make sure there were other options. (I wouldn't generally serve pork/meat as the main dish, but it could be a major side and/or one of two mains.)


I don't have any friends, except my bff (who lives far away and has recently totally changed her eating habits), so I can't say I know what they eat/like well enough to accommodate without info. Almost every party I've held has been for the friends of my kids, and I don't know of any restrictions that any of them have, except for one practicing Muslim. He's only been to two of our parties (both dd1's and ds2's birthdays this year), and we weren't serving pork, anyway.


My bff has gone gluten free, so next time she visits, I'll have a major culinary challenge on my hands!

post #17 of 54


I try to accommodate because I believe a host should make an effort to make guests happy. 


I usually ask people if they have any food preferences or requirements. If they are friends of my children, I won't necessarily know beforehand.  Vegetarianism is fairly common with teens and I find there are a lot of variations - some are vegans, some will eat fish, etc. 


I can't fathom serving food that would offend religious beliefs or could create health problems.  I try to be careful if someone has allergies, and I don't find nut allergies to be too difficult to accommodate. Gluten, celiac disease and IBS are tougher for me to cook for, since so many things will irritate sensitivities. I have to say I'm always a little surprised by the number of Jews I know who love bacon or who eat shellfish without hesitation and I only find out after I've served up a meal that (as much as possible - I don't have a kosher butcher nearby) complies with dietary laws. I would never knowingly serve meat to a vegetarian. We often have vegetarians at our table. Since we eat meatless meals at least 3 or 4 times per week and now often 6 or 7 nights per week, it isn't a stretch.  I've even learned to say "we eat meatless meals" rather than "we ate a vegetarian dinner last night" since the latter is offensive to some people. 


post #18 of 54

Within reason as long as it doesn't violate my personal beliefs and its not over the top. For example, for religious reasons I don't drink nor prepare food with alcohol, tea or coffee. I wouldn't have it in my house either so I request people don't come over drunk or bring alcohol. For the same reason I try to respect other people's religion if they bring it up ahead of time. However, I won't make 20 different meals because this person doesn't like that and that person doesn't like this.

I do ask for any dietary concerns if they are coming over for the first time or if its not someone I know really well. I avoid anything people are allergic to (this is big for me, I have an allergy and people tend to poo-poo it and even bring food with it to my house to eat) especially if the person is a child. If they don't tell me of it then I'm not responsible for serving it for a meal. I won't run to the kitchen and throw together a meal because someone doesn't like x,y,z and never told me they couldn't stand eating it. I will try to find something if NOTHING on the table is edible to them for some reason but I serve a big meal when I have guests so I would be very surprised if there was nothing they could eat.

post #19 of 54

We follow a strict all-natural/vegan diet & I am gluten-free as well.


I get very anxious about what to serve at parties, and I've only had a couple in the past few years.


We are generally aware of the dietary restrictions of the people we invite but I would definitely ask or put it on the invite if I was at all unsure. However, it seems almost everyone we know follows a SAD. That *should* make it easier except that my diet is so far from a SAD that I really don't have a clue what to make. I don't know how to cook meat nor do I want to, and I'm completely lost on serving soda etc. One party I did cold cuts & rolls for people to make their own sandwiches, plus chips and snacks. That went over OK except that it never occurred to me to provide mayo & things like that. One time we had burgers & veggie burgers, and the only negative that I recall was that we didn't have plain white sugar for the coffee (which earned us some negative 'hippy' nicknames from DH's grandfather...) Last party we had was for DS's 1st birthday & it was very important to me that he be able to eat everything served. So we did an entirely vegan, all-natural menu (no 'meal' food though, more snacks/cake/etc.) and that went fine, except the thing everyone ate most was the pan of (non-vegan) brownies someone unexpectedly brought over halfway through the party... I didn't mind them bringing it, appreciated it in fact, I just felt bad that our food wasn't good enough, if that makes sense? OK I'm getting rambly now....

post #20 of 54

We are starting out gluten, casein, and soy free here so naturally whatever I serve is GFCFSF.  I refuse to serve what my daughter can't have at a party.  I've actually had people refuse to eat the food before because it wasn't wheat and tasted funny.  Twice.  Whatever, you starve, not my problem.  I always expect some vegetarians as well and that is fine. I serve meat and fish and veggie.   Other than that:  I usually know the restrictions ahead of time and try to accommodate as much as I can.  If I was serving a large group and someone came to me saying they STILL had restrictions on top of what I served I would see if I could find SOMETHING they can eat but really, if they have super extra dietary restrictions than maybe they should do what I do:  bring food.  Yes, I really always bring DD's food because I don't expect anyone to cook for her restrictions. 

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