Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year. There is something magical about family and friends gathering over plentiful, and delicious, food and drinks to enjoy each other's company.
It was my favourite time of the year, until I had a baby with an allergy.
For my fellow allergen parents, Christmas time is a time when we need to be more vigilant than usual, as most allergic reactions happen outside the child's home.
When your child has severe allergies, and Christmas means plates and plates of unknown food around your child, you are naturally apprehensive, anxious and worried.
The thought of a family member passing your child a portion of food they are not allowed is crippling because, unfortunately, it is possible that could happen.
And here is the thing, people can say they are well meaning or "clueless", but when it comes to a child's health everyone needs to understand the gravity of allergies. Being well meaning is simply not good enough.
Here is a simple list of how to make things easier for you and your child's allergies this Christmas.
Host Christmas at your house
Being the host, you are in charge of delegating to guests what (allergen free) dishes to bring. Instead of appearing as a overbearing mother, you are seen as the efficient host.
Whilst hosting a lunch, or dinner, may not be the most ideal situation for busy parents, the cost is outweighed by the knowledge you are controlling the food being brought into the house.
Send a group message prior to Christmas lunch stating the action plan for your child's allergies. For example: "Hi everyone, our child's Epipen and/or Claratyne will be located on top of the fridge at Christmas time. If you see any signs of swelling, please find us immediately or use the medicine."
By preparing family members prior to Christmas day, you are giving them time to learn critical signs, and how to appropriately respond.
Create specific treats that are allergen free
Create dishes that are allergen free with a separate bowl next to them for non allergic guests. For example, salad that is dairy free with a small bowl of feta near that guests can add themselves. This will save on additional allergen free dishes. For allergy kids, inclusion is important.
Label the food
Knowledge is power. If you're heading away with grandparents at Christmas time, label food in the fridge and pantry that is allergy friendly with your child's name. Hopefully by seeing literal notes on a pack of biscuits that say your child's name they will realise that product is okay. In turn, they would realise if it's not labelled, it's not okay.
If you're visiting a different town or neighbourhood for Christmas, look up where the local hospital and local doctor are. Update your action plan of where is open, and where doctors are located should a reaction occur.
Hopefully, with a little preparation and vigilance, Christmas can be a worry free and magical affair for all.