Birthday, Easter, Christmas and all other celebrations are great fun - especially for children.
When you take a celebration into the classroom it can be hilarious, messy, noisy, disruptive, memorable and dangerous - just depends on who you are, your family beliefs and the allergy situation of your child.
Many schools discourage in-school parties for any number of reasons, ranging from the disruption they cause to the daily routine to the fear of food allergies. Before you plan anything, check with the teacher or school principal and find out the school's policy. Then remember, celebrations do not need to revolve around food - although there are suggestions for that below as well.
Alternatives to food
- bring in your guitar and sing with the kids
- send balloons or party hats for the kids to wear when eating their normal food
- bring in some books, and read to the children
- show the children a special dance that matches the celebration
- send in party favors (without food) - instead consider pencils, erasers, texta's, notebooks, colouring pages, stickers
- bring a globe and books about a country the celebration pertains to
- provide a pass-the-parcel (without food) - consider including questions that the children can ask each other (just keep them age appropriate e.g. spell (show a picture of a cat) or name a song by One Direction)
- consider a face painting session
- get creative and active with a scavenger hunt
- supply a box of party bubbles
- play 'who am I?'
If food is more your thing, make sure you find out about all the allergies in your class and consider your options carefully. 'Safer' suggestions include
- icypoles (ensure you can provide the ingredient list)
- jelly cups (ensure you can provide the ingredient list)
- party bag of lollies (ensure you can provide the ingredient list)
Things to remember
- always ask permission from the teacher first
- respect the teachers decision and time preference for any celebration
- candles are considered a hazard - ask before bringing them
- easter eggs have the potential to include peanuts, tree nuts, egg and, unless you spend considerable money, diary. It is not worth the effort
- keep it short
- numerous parents would be quite happy for this tradition/obligation to die out. It would remove competition, costs and allows parents to remain in control of what their children are eating - particularly when healthy food options are their preferred option.
Note: Parents of children with allergies will often have a container of cupcakes or other food that is kept as school to cover celebrations. Even if you do your best with allergy-friendly food, if there has not been an opportunity to discuss your recipe, how you cook and potential cross-contamination then the risk can just be too high. They don't expect other parents to bake certain food so their child can participate but the effort is definitely appreciated it you do. Even better if you can avoid food completely.
It is worth taking the time to find out about the management of Asthma, Allergies and Anaphylaxis for your state as each state does have different policies and procedures.