7 Tips for Hosting & Organizing an Allergen-Free Friendsgiving Feast


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Epic Cheeseboard and photo by Valerie Six

Last month, my pals Bebe Black Carminito of Champagne and Cookies and Valerie Six of Six Snippets co-hosted a girls luncheon in my Berkeley home. We invited friends who are bloggers, recipe developers and food creatives to enjoy a seasonal inspired three course menu. This post is dedicated to sharing how we hosted and organized a friendsgiving feast which was also allergen-free.

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Planning a special event takes time.  We’re all busy. I’m an allergy mom who is always in the kitchen cooking for my family.  Hosting a party can feel overwhelming on top of daily cooking responsibilities.  Here is how we organized our Friendsgiving:

  1. Pick a theme: Our simple menu and “casual yet special” decor highlighted the best of seasonal fall whole vegetables and fruit.  We used plenty of squash, carrots, pomegranates, grapes and apples.
  2. Budget: Cost saving tips:
  • Menu: choose light but flavorful dishes. Meat is expensive so using seasonal vegetables not only tastes good but is budget friendly
  • Decor:  Use natural elements like fruit, gourds, pumpkins and flowers.  The red bougainvillea centerpieces were picked fresh from my plant.  I foraged vines to add to each bouquet.  Free and pretty!
  • Table Setting: Use what you have: Bebe had a great idea to use mini pumpkins as place card holders. A small slit was cut into the stem of each pumpkin. Old business cards were used for place cards and decorated with stickers.
  • Linens: Keep it simple & layer: Val’s mustard table runner added color to my basic white linens. Foraged vines tied together with kitchen string made a nice decor for linens. Plopping a mini apple on top brought the whole look together.   It’s ok for things not to match. Your guests won’t notice.


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Carrot Ginger Soup with Charmoula, Creme Fraiche & Crushed Pumpkin Seeds. Photo by: Bebe Black Carminito

3.  Pick a make ahead menu: Your freezer is your best friend.  I made a fig chutney, vegetable broth and carrot soup weeks in advance. Making things ahead made it less stressful as the day approached.  I stored everything in the freezer and defrosted food in the refrigerator the day before our event.  I also prepared garnishes for the soup a day in advance. Flavor, color and taste were not compromised.

4. Celebrate the food you can safely eat: Val created an epic cheeseboard by using a variety of cheeses, olives, seeds and crackers. However, if you can’t eat cheese, fill up your board with fruit, vegetables and garnishes you can enjoy. There are no rules.

5.  Divide and conquer tasks:   Enlist the help of friends. Divide duties even if it means asking others to help with non-food items such as purchasing plates, linens or packaged goods that are safe for your household.  Choose how to split up duties based on your comfort level.

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Milk & Cardamom’s Berry Bhapa Doi using pomegranates & Just Pom Syrup
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Pictured from left to right: Carolina, Hetal, Amisha, Katie, Rezel, Annelies, Bebe, Shahla, Valerie, Jan

6. Keep it allergen free & safe:

  • Be clear:  We keep an allergen free home because of the severity of my daughter’s allergies.  I  asked to keep the menu free from my daughter’s allergens to minimize cross contact exposure.  A free-from menu keeps our home safe even though my daughter didn’t attend the event but would be coming home after the event.
  • Communicate: ask for what you need. Val and Bebe texted me photos of ingredients and labels when there was a question. I included a note to guests about our allergen free home. Friends may bring hostess gifts so communication is the key to reducing exposure of any allergens entering your home.


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I’m grateful for my friends who kept our event allergen free.

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Pear, Maple & Cardamom Cookies by Amisha Gurbani. Photo by: Bebe Black Carminito

7.  Ask for contributors: Friends like The Jam Lab  brought cookies( pictured above), Rezel Kealoha brought handmade ceramics and Millie Lottie Totes brought demin wraps which held the delicious goodies donated from local brands.


Happy Friendsgiving everyone! Remember to plan ahead and enjoy your special day together. Friends are like family and should always be celebrated ❤️


  1. Local makers included the following:
  2. If you would like to bring a hostess gift to a someone who has food allergies, it is nice to play it safe and bring a non food gift. This way everyone can appreciate it and enjoy together. Some examples include; pretty ceramics, dish towels, small kitchen gadgets, books etc. If there is ever a question, check with your host ❤️



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