Birthday parties are such an important event in a child’s life. Unfortunately, for kids with Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, birthday parties can be frustrating and even scary. With some advanced preparation, however, it is possible, and easy, to throw a gluten-free birthday party for your child. You might even have some of the people from your casino events in Denver coming over to this party, which is why you need to make sure it goes on without any hassle. 

The Cake: Most major grocery store chains, as well as superstores like WalMart and big box stores like SAM’S, are starting to offer gluten free cake mixes. Betty Crocker produces both a chocolate and a vanilla cake mix which is available at most grocery stores. Larger groceries and health food stores also carry mixes by Pamela’s, Gluten Free Pantry, and Cherrybrook Kitchen. Cherrybrook Kitchen also makes a gluten free frosting mix, or you can find a simple butter-cream recipe online or in many cookbooks. Or, if a cake mix is not available, most regular cake recipes can be made gluten free by substituting for the flour with an equal amount of gluten free flour mix, or an equal part rice flour and potato starch or corn starch. Be sure that all bowls, spoons, cake pans and surfaces are free of wheat crumbs and flour dust before baking the cake. Also be aware that gluten free cakes will not rise as far as wheat cakes and will be more crumbly. For a gluten free ice cream cake, try substituting a gluten free sandwich cookie such as Kinnitoos for the usual Oreo bits, or leaving the cookie layer out entirely. Check labels on ice cream containers carefully. Some ice creams (such as Blue Bell’s Dutch Chocolate) contain wheat flour even though they do not contain cookie pieces.

Dinner: If you wish to go the traditional route and serve pizza at the party, many popular pizza chains, such as Godfather’s Pizza, are now offering gluten free pizza. Some local pizzerias are also adding gluten free pizzas to their menus. If these are not available in your area, many large grocery stores and health food stores offer frozen gluten free pizzas. Another option is to make your own gluten free pizza dough (substituting a gluten free flour mix, or finding a gluten free recipe online) and setting up a ‘make your own’ pizza bar for the kids. Other options for party food include a sandwich bar using readily available gluten free breads, spaghetti or macaroni and cheese with gluten free noodles, or avoiding breads altogether and serving stir-fry or cooking on the grill. Do be aware that many stir-fry and barbeque sauces do contain gluten, so check the labels carefully.

Snacks: If the kids get the munchies during the party, set out a tray of gluten free goodies. Most corn and potato chips are gluten free. However some ‘baked’ chips contain wheat starch (i.e. Pringles) so check labels carefully. Some health food stores even offer gluten free crackers, pretzels and cookies. Other (healthy) gluten free option would be setting out a fruit, veggie and cheese tray. Also be sure to check labels on any candy that may be included in treat bags. Wheat and gluten may be in some surprising treats.

Activities: When planning activities, please be aware that many craft products, such as play dough, may contain wheat derivatives. Check all labels carefully before selecting crafts for the party.

If you are careful to read labels and peruse the many options in your local stores, you can easily provide a safe and successful gluten free birthday party for the special child (or adult) in your life.