With the holidays, come invitations to lots of food-oriented parties and gatherings. In the midst of all the festivities, sticking with gluten-free guidelines can be challenging for you and your host. Follow these tips, and whether you’re a houseguest or a party guest, you’ll always be welcome. Talk with your hosts. If your hosts are family or friends, let them know as early as possible about your dietary needs so they can plan accordingly. Offer to help. A host has a long to-do list before a party or a visit from out-of-town guests. Concern about what to serve a gluten-free guest can add to that stress. Let your host know that you’re willing to help with menu planning and answer any questions. If you know your host well, you might even offer to help prepare the food for the party. Do the shopping. If you’re a houseguest, let your host know in advance that you’ll be happy to go grocery shopping when you arrive to pick up gluten-free items. If your host prefers to pick up groceries beforehand, ask if he or she would like ideas for where to buy gluten-free foods. Bring a dish. Make it easy on your host by offering to bring one or two dishes to a holiday gathering. A side dish or appetizer might be especially appreciated. This will lighten your host’s workload and ensure you have something safe to eat. Say “no” graciously. Even the most understanding host may urge you to try a dish that you suspect isn’t safe for you. When that happens, say “no” graciously. It’s not worth the risk of becoming ill. Mentally rehearse how to decline politely so you’ll feel less awkward when the time comes. For example, “I’m going to have to pass on this dish, although it looks absolutely delicious,” or, “What a wonderful meal you’ve prepared. Forgive me for not trying all the lovely dishes you’ve put out.” Follow the golden rule. Be sure to thank your host for taking your needs into account. Let him or her know you appreciate the understanding and extra effort. And a follow-up thank-you note or phone call will earn you extra brownie points. Don’t let concerns about gluten dampen your holiday spirit. Join the party! You’ll find that making the effort to be a gracious guest is its own reward. Key Takeaways If your hosts are family or friends, let them know as early as possible about your dietary needs so they can plan. Offer to help with menu planning or food preparation, or bring a dish or two to share. If you’re a houseguest, let your host know in advance that you’re happy to shop for gluten-free items.