Gluten Free Holiday Tips: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas

Halloween Candy
•Two gluten free candy lists at 2015 or CDF Candy List.
• Warning: Some candy bars that are  normally GF are not gluten free if they are in holiday shapes or are  miniaturized. (i.e. York Peppermint Patty, Butterfinger)

Thanksgiving & Christmas
• Butterball & Honeysuckle Turkey (and more brands) are GF.
(Butterball even has a GF gravy packet)
• Beware of how the turkey is cooked. If possible, ask the  host to keep stuffing and gravy  separated  from the turkey  so you can enjoy the  main entrée. If the turkey is made in a cooking bag, it is possible that  flour is used to coat the bag so the turkey doesn’t stick to it. Ask your host if  cornstarch can be used instead.
• Honey Baked Ham and Honey Baked  Roasted or Smoked Turkey are GF.
• Pumpkin (Libby’s canned is GF) or apple pie are easily made GF. For crust, consider using Bob’s Red Mill Pie Crust Mix. It  makes 2 crusts and is available at Marc’s.

Gluten free social situations:
BYOM (Bring Your Own Meal)
-Consider bringing something in a covered serving dish, that is easily reheated in microwave and is without much fuss.
-Make it “substantial” (with protein and veggies),
Serve yourself first (prevents cross contamination)
-Make sure it’s something special, so you do not feel deprived … and others do not feel sorry for you.


• If the meal is served buffet-style, be the first in line before other serving utensils contaminate your GF dish.
• Or…You could also go through the line first and then stow away your plate, and eat later.
• Let your host or hostess know your strategy before the event. After all, you are bringing a dish to share so hostess should be willing to accommodate you too!

When you’re the host:
Make all dishes GF — -your guests might not even realize they ate a GF meal! Select naturally GF items.
If guests want to contribute, have them bring:
• Beverages,
• Disposable paper plates, paper goods
• Music or movies to play, favorite board games
• Only desserts, then relegate all contributed desserts to a separate area … safely away from you and your wonderful GF meal!

For office/cocktail parties:
• Consider eating before you go—then nibble.
• Usually cheese, fruit, sliced raw vegetables, hummus, and wine are available. Distilled alcohol is gluten free. Watch mixed drinks.

Catered formal events:
• If possible, speak directly to the caterer, not the “organizer,” to ascertain what (if anything) can be GF.
• Wedding? If you have a relationship with the bride, she may be thrilled that you offered to call the caterer yourself! One less thing for her to do!

Be prepared with an answer if someone wants to know why you are choosy with some food choices…
• Like … “This food looks so good but even a tiny bit of gluten just makes me really sick no matter how delicious the food is.”

• Friends, relatives, or others do not mean to be cruel or unfeeling — they just haven’t had to walk in your shoes!
• You have to make your good health a priority!
• What is the main reason for you attending?
To enjoy family, friends or colleagues!!! So show up with that positive attitude… but always make your health your number one priority!

Happy Holidays!

3 thoughts on “Gluten Free Holiday Tips: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas”

  1. Excellent list of suggestions, Laurie. Perfect for our readers at this time of year. Thank you for all of the time it took to compile. 🙂

  2. Thank you for some great tips and reminders!
    I found out the hard way a few years ago that the holiday-shaped versions of usually- or formerly-safe candies are not necessarily gluten-free… (Not cool, Reese’s! Now I know to beware of stuffing my face when I am simultaneously stuffing others’ stockings…).
    And bearing in mind how everything is cooked and served (i.e. – turkey sans stuffing) really will go far in ensuring that you are not endangered at a holiday meal.
    At my family gatherings, we cook several dishes designated as gluten-free, with their own serving utensils. These dishes often occupy a separate space in the host kitchen than their gluten-containing counterparts, where they are kept covered when not being served.
    I often do bring my own meal to other situations, and although I used to feel incredibly awkward about this, I have countered it by being honest with my friends and family about the seriousness of my potential exposure to gluten, by being casual about the necessity of eating this way to ensure my health, and by remembering that I am here to enjoy others’ company, and that this, at its core, has no bearing on food.
    I also make sure I pack myself something I really do enjoy; looking forward to your meal, even if it is not the same meal as everyone else’s, really is a pleasure in itself. The holidays are certainly a time for such joys!

  3. When I bring food to an event I put it in 2 containers: one to share and one that stays safely gluten free for me. It’s taken awhile, but now my friends and family are used to my eating “quirks” including sometimes not eating with them. I still feel uncomfortable when my actions are a topic of discussion for the assembled company.

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