Restrictions on food for park birthday parties

My son had his 5th birthday party in a park near a playground and we had an issue that I'd like opinions on for the future and what others do as I know park birthday parties as very common.  My son has invited his friends to the party and 3 of the boys had severe allergies.  They are close friends so I accommodated these allergies and all of the food was safe for them to eat (and approved by their parents).  None of these boys had a nut allergy and the moms said nut was ok so the cake and one of the other desserts had nuts in them.  The food was restricted to the tables only and kids did not take food onto the play area.  The boys were playing on the playground with some other kids there and when it was time of cake invited the other kids they met in the playground to join them for cake, which I was ok with (as we got enough for all kids and adults and adults never eat cake so there was plenty extra).  I insisted that all of the boys ask their moms permission to join us for cake (they all looked to be 5 to 7 years old range) and asked the moms about any allergies.  One of the moms said her boy was allergic to nuts so I told her that I'm sorry but our cake has nuts in it and I can serve her boy fruit but I was not looking out for nuts when I was choosing snacks for the party as I was focused on other allergies so don't know if her boy can safely have any of the other snacks.  She said nuts is the main allergy out there and I should not have nuts in birthday party food as now her son is going to miss out and cannot eat the cake.  She left with her boy soon after; the other boys joined the party as they received permission.  I know there are a lot of allergies out there and I am always careful to accommodate the allergies of my guests as much as possible, but do people really accommodate all allergies even if none of their guests have it.   I understand that her son was disappointed not to have cake and I talked to my son about not inviting kids he does not know to join us for cake/food until I ask their mommy if it is ok since if the mom says no they will be sad, but beyond that not sure if there is an unspoken rule I don't know about.  

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No, I don't think there is an unwritten rule about not serving food with nuts at parties at parks. That said, while that mom may have overreacted a bit (it is hard to have a disappointed child on your hands), it is true that with a 6 & 8 yo, I do not serve party food (regardless of where the party is) with nuts in it. Some allergies don't pop up until age 5-6, and I do not want to be the cause of someone having a reaction, anticipated or not. Your son's generous impulses sound very sweet, and I think the takeaway message you gave him (have mom check first before issuing the invite) is right on.

With 1 almost-grown kid and 3 other grown kids, you can bet I threw a LOT of park birthday parties. While I did accommodate the allergies of the guests, and their siblings who often tagged along, I would never imagine that a complete stranger who upbraid you for that! You are not responsible for anyone's random kid who shows up, plus the mom most certainly should have come to you asking about nuts, and if she's a really great mom she'd have a stash of nut-free treats at the ready for just such an occasion. Sheesh

I'm going to reprimand you for remotely thinking it's somehow your fault or responsibility to curate the happiness of a stranger's child in an outdoor setting. If the kid had a bird allergy and a bird in the park crapped on his head, that wouldn't be your fault either. You went above and beyond for those kids/parents who you invited. It was nice of you to kindly explain to this stranger-mother that there were nuts abounding, but again, it's NOT your problem. Before your next son's party, I suggest a quick coaching session wherein you tell him that only his invited guests are welcome to partake. Everyone else can go buy their own damn cakes. (OK, maybe don't phrase it that way, but this got me riled up.)

Oh my goodness. Let me get this straight, a total stranger, who wasn't ever even invited, berated you for having a cake with nuts in it at YOUR child's birthday? People have lost their minds. No, there is no protocol. You were BEYOND gracious, especially in offering fruit as an alternative, to a total stranger who WASN'T EVEN INVITED and it is in no way your responsibility to worry about what everyone else in the world can eat. You were obviously thoughtful about your son's guests in accommodating their allergies. You know that old expression, "if you try to please everyone you'll end up pleasing no one."

No unspoken rule at all. You went above and beyond. We can't anticipate the allergies of random kids at the park. 

She's a random person at a park, expecting you to accommodate her kid's nut allergy: she's an entitled lunatic. 

You were being kind! The proper response should have been, Thank you so much for offering, but unfortunately my son is allergic to nuts, so we'll have to pass on the cake. 

I had to re-read your post to make sure I understood the scenario correctly. So a kid who was a stranger to you and your child but happens to be at a park at the same time as your kid's party, whom you and your child generously include in the party after your child happens to play with him, cannot eat your kid's birthday cake because it has nuts in it, and the mother is mad at you and thinks you're being unreasonable for making a cake with nuts? I hardly know how to respond to this except to think that mother must have mental health problems. The world has nuts in it (referring to actual nuts here, not people). Her child will have chance, unforeseeable close encounters with nuts. I can't understand how you could have been expected to anticipate a complete stranger with a nut allergy coming to your child's party and eating your cake.

Before anyone jumps down my throat, yes, I think nut allergies should be accommodated in school and when a known party guest has an allergy. But no, the duty to accomodate should not extend to this situation. Sheesh. 

I generally don't serve food to kids that has nuts in it because (1) that is a pretty common allergy; and (2) most kids I know--including my own--don't like many common nuts (e.g. walnuts, almonds).  The other mom was very presumptuous, however, in lecturing you and creating a rule that birthday food can't have nuts.  Since your son just turned 5, you have years of class parties, birthday celebrations and sport team snacks to look forward to.  My advice (though it's not a rule) is to avoid nuts.  There is almost always going to be at least one kid who is allergic.

I think you handled this correctly. The response to her complaint could just have been, "I'm sorry about that, but this is a private party." You have no obligation whatsoever to accommodate anyone other than your invited guests (and frankly how could you guess what other dietary needs the kids on the playground might have??)

Figuring out what you can serve to a large group of young children that is tasty and safe and that falls within everyone's dietary requirements is a lot of work these days, and sounds as if you handled it beautifully.  It's entirely out of line for a stranger to scold you because you failed to anticipate the unknown allergy needs of random children at the playground who received a generous invitation to share cake.  Children might be unable  to eat wheat, dairy, sugar, palm oil, soy, chocolate, eggs, etc.  ... don't expect yourself to be psychic. The mother was very rude to shame you, and she set a poor example for her child.

My nephew is severely allergic to almonds and certain other nuts. His parents are teaching him that it's his responsibility to ask what's in his food, and to be gracious and not make a big deal if he can't eat something.  The most important thing you did was to make sure the children had their parents' permission.  I'm just sorry one parent chose to have a temper tantrum centered on what a bad mom you are; please don't buy into her guilt-trip.

You did everything the absolute right way and there is no reason for you to feel guilty. You were very thoughtful and thorough in checking about all of your guests possible food restrictions, and accommodating them. You aren't responsible for strangers that might unexpectedly traipse into your event.  That is the responsibility of those parents.  I am baffled that someone would make you feel guilty for that.  While using a public space, you were accommodating for your private party.

I think if you accommodated the needs of your invited guests, that's all you need to do.  Beggars can't be choosers, as the saying goes.

My kids' friends with severe allergies always brought their own treats for cake time. I always asked what I could have on hand for them to eat, and the parents always said they'd bring their own. It's prob the safest thing to do. I think it is gracious to be sure all guests can partake of the food, but it is hard and risky, given the number of possible allergies. 

I think you're good. You did all you could to find out about and accommodate the allergies of the birthday boy and invited guests. You can't accommodate the kids you don't know about. I'm empathetic to that other mom because it is a heartbreak for her boy, and she probably felt for him, but they had zero claim to your party food. 

Absolutely not, that mom was being ridiculous. You were kind enough to say that kids you didn't even know could come to the party, and this lady got mad because HER allergy wasn't accomodated? That's incredibly rude. My kid can't have dairy and was trained to ask and knows how to care for herself in the world. You did nothing wrong. Repeat: You. Did. Nothing. Wrong. 

The unwritten rule is, don't expect strangers to accommodate your child's allergies when your son was not initially invited to the party.  That expectation on the part of the boy's mother was, if you'll excuse me, nuts.