In about one month, Emma, my celiac daughter, will turn 10-years-old. Yes I need to worry about it now, because now with the holidays done, all of a sudden she needs to get her invitations ready. It is a time of year where I’m calling around to find out prices and accommodations for places that have birthday parties.
It can be frustrating for me, because all of these places have cake or pizza and cake built in to their birthday party price. I tend to have a hard time getting these places to understand that I want a party – minus the gluten and subsequently minus the cost of the cake, or find a replacement gluten-free cake. Is it too much to ask?
My conversation usually goes something like this:
Me: “Can you tell me what’s included in your birthday package”
Them: “A pass to ___(insert your activity here)__, 10 tokens for games, birthday cake and juice.”
Me: “Let’s talk about the birthday cake; my daughter can’t eat it because she can’t have gluten – which is in regular cake. How would you recommend handling that situation?”
Them: “We’ll let her bring in a cupcake or something for herself.”
Me (getting frustrated): “No, she’s the birthday girl. She will not be singled out in that way at her own party – as she does with every other birthday party she attends. Can we bring in our own cake? Can you take the price of the cake off the cost of the party?”
Them: “Well, let me talk to my manager.”
It appears my record is 3-1. So far I have had one situation where they wouldn’t reduce the price or allow me to bring a gluten-free cake in. So I politely said if they couldn’t accommodate they wouldn’t get my business. A local water park and McDonald’s gave in and gave me a price reduction on the cake. I got approval to bring in my own cake for the water park. At McDonald’s we did ice cream instead and that worked out really well. Another place worked with me to just do their ice cream cups and priced it out that way.
I did a quick search and found glutenagogo‘s blog talked about how the American Girl store in NYC totally met their needs and went beyond all expectations. The American Girl website mentions special food needs including gluten, but it’s under their cafes which are in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. I’m in Minneapolis, so I’m not too sure how their Bistro would accommodate. But it seems promising. Thanks for the idea glutenagogo!
American Girl was the only company that came up in my search for “gluten-free birthday parties”. All other items were about how to make gluten-free cakes and experiences with bringing gluten-free cake to a party. I would love it if businesses had more of a handle on these food issues and understand there are times to be accommodating. I would probably faint if a business suddenly offered to purchase a gluten-free cake for us for a small extra fee.
I just feel on my daughter’s birthday, she should not have to feel singled out. Someone needs to fight for her on this – and each year around this time I get my fire in my belly and do it. I would love to hear if you have had a great experience with a party or an accommodation that went “above and beyond” your expectations. Or if you have a recommendation for a good place let us know and we’ll share your information!