treeI am sitting here staring at my Christmas tree on a perfectly chilly wintry night (about 15 degrees in Minnesota) thinking about the busy-ness of this week all the way through to New Year’s Day and how to keep up on it all.

Thursday I baked 8 dozen gluten free cookies (with more to come because apparently no two people in my family like the same cookie) and cleaned my kitchen.  Friday,  more cleaning and food prep,  Friday night my brother and his family come for an overnight/early Christmas gathering (FUN!), weekend is filled with soccer, church and a birthday party, and then we go head-first into Christmas (meal, church, family time and more food) — and my family is not even traveling anywhere.

But we have traveled for the holidays, hosted the holidays, even had to scrounge for a hot dog on Christmas when the gluten free food became contaminated.  Here are some of the things I have found that have made gluten free life much easier.

1. Have an all gluten free meal

Try not to succumb to doing a “mostly gluten free meal”.  It is SO stressful for the gluten free person when there is gluten on the table!  In my case, I end up white-knuckling the meal watching gluteny bread crumbs fly and people taking seconds only to contaminate the rest of the food.  I have talked about this before…so I won’t keep going.  I just needed to get on the record.

2. Wine, cheese and gluten free crackers are your friend

Van's Multigrain Gluten-Free Crackers

Van’s Multigrain Gluten-Free Crackers

Going to someone else’s house for a little Christmas or New Year’s gathering?  Bring along a little wine, some fabulous cheese (my favorite is Gruyere as well as Cabot’s Sharp Cheddar Cheese) and some gluten free crackers.

Cracker ideas:  We LOVE the Van’s Multigrain cracker.  It is the best my family has tasted so far. But just last week there was chatter about Breton having its own gluten free cracker and I saw great reviews on that (but can’t even find info on the cracker on its website).  I have not been able to find this cracker in stores yet to try it out, but if you see it, from the word on the street, I would say it is worth trying.

If it were me, I would share my cheese, but keep some clean cheese for myself hidden/stashed away in the refrigerator.  Anything gluten free sitting out on a table among it’s gluteny neighbors will inevitably get contaminated.

3. Get a gluten free friend a gift of gluten free goodies

Gluten Free Beer Gift Basket; Courtesy: halftimebeverage.com

Gluten Free Beer Gift Basket; Courtesy: halftimebeverage.com

If you are attending a party with a gluten free friend, give them a little gluten-free treat  to ease their minds for the evening. Call it a gift, a survival kit, or good manners, it is very thoughtful to give the gift of gluten free to someone living the lifestyle.

Gluten free treats make great holiday (or birthday) gifts as well.  A quick Google search for gluten free gift baskets came up with 1.89 million results:  like this gluten free beer gift basket with a variety of brews!

 4. Fill up a cooler and gluten free restaurant apps for a holiday road trip

A few years back we did a road trip to Las Vegas and last year my husband did a road trip with my daughters to go skiing.  Both times the vehicle was loaded up with food.  A cooler with meat, cheese, fruit and cold beverages is not only ensuring you have gluten free food, but it’s healthier, less expensive and time consuming than dining out.

However if you do want to dine out and take your eyes off the road for a while, make sure your smartphone has gluten free restaurant locator apps.  Find Me Gluten Free and Gluten Free Registry locate gluten free restaurants nationwide. Last year when my husband was getting into Bozeman, Montana he and my daughter searched the apps they had to find a gluten free friendly restaurant (and they did find one).

Bottom line

Here is the deal, you need to do what you need to do to HAVE FUN! If these don’t work for you, you might have some other ideas.

Back in 2006 the American Psychological Association did a study on holiday stress and while staying gluten free during the holidays wasn’t directly on the list of holiday stressors, travel, money, gifts, staying on a diet (presumably meaning weight loss not for celiac disease), were.  Life is stressful enough, do what you can to remain happy as well as gluten free and stress free over the next few weeks.  If you have additional tips you would like to share, please do so in the comment box.

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