Enjoying the Holidays With Your Gluten-Free Child

Make classroom appearances, lower your expectations and more holiday tips.

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I bet my gluten-free son eats better than most kids – or most adults, for that matter. And by "better," I don't necessarily mean that he eats more healthfully (although he does pretty well on that count, too). What I mean is that what he eats would probably make you jealous. I already know that it makes the other kids jealous. Yeah. He's got it pretty good. And the holidays are no exception. But … how did we get here? I'll share with you some of my tips for creating an enjoyable holiday season for your gluten free child. Or your gluten-free self.

Nicole Hunn
Nicole Hunn
First, if your child is going to be a guest at someone else's home for a holiday party or gathering, call ahead to find out what they'll be serving. If you have a child with food allergies and intolerances, you've probably done that approximately one thousand times – in the last six months. But do you automatically go out and buy or make a gluten-free version of the very same thing? That's what I always did, reflexively, until I realized that perhaps I should ask my child how he feels about that particular meal or snack. What if it might just make him feel like a million bucks to be sent with his favorite food, no matter what everyone else is having? Maybe your gluten-free mac and cheese is the envy of the neighborhood, and your son would be proud as punch to tote a serving of it to the party. Ask him! You might be surprised.

[Read: Living Your Best (Gluten-Free) Life.]

Second, even if you aren't the class mom (I'm not; it just doesn't play to my strengths, what can I tell you?), I bet the teacher will allow you special dispensation to show up at the class holiday party anyway. If you're there in the classroom, you can keep an eagle eye out for your gluten free child's well-being, and he can just relax and enjoy himself.

Jonny Hunn

Third, if you can swing it, host that big holiday get-together at your place this year. I always find it easier to host than to be hosted, especially if I'm confident that my guests will be willing to show up with nothing but a smile, and maybe a bottle of wine in tow (no gluten, please! It's just so much easier that way). When I host the soiree, I can make everything gluten-free, and no one will mind. You see, I'll be hell-bent on making the most decadent, delicious Christmas cookies – gluten-free or not – anybody has ever had, and the best homemade egg nog. I'll even spike the nog for willing grown-ups! They'll be begging for an invitation to my house next year, and since I'd have to make and travel with everything if I were a guest at your house, this way I don't have to pack my goodies for the road. People think you're the hostess with the mostess, willing to take care of everyone. But really? You're just taking care of No.1 (you! That's you.).

[Read: Your Big, Fat, Gluten-Free Holiday.]

Finally, try to lower your overall expectations for the season. The holidays are never perfect, for anyone. There is so much emphasis placed on this short stretch of the year. In some ways, we all set ourselves up for disappointment in one way or another. Try not to expect more out of your gluten-free holiday season than you could properly expect from any other holiday season. And remember that, as long as your child sees you trying your absolute best, he's likely to forgive you when you stumble. Mine always seems to.

[Read: Raising Your Gluten-Free Child.]

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns and feedback.

Nicole Hunn is the personality behind the popular blog Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, and the author of the book series "Gluten-Free on a Shoestring," which has been featured in the New York Times, MSN Money, Oprah.com, Epicurious.com and the Dr. Steve Show.