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How to host special-diet guests for the holidays

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Vegan, paleo, gluten free, dairy free ... With more and more people following special diets these days, pleasing everyone at the holiday table can feel like a challenge. Use these hosting tips to easily and cheerfully accommodate your guests’ preferences.

With more and more people following special diets these days, whether by choice or for medical reasons, pleasing everyone at the holiday dinner table is a little more challenging than it used to be. With these holiday hosting tips, it’s easier to accommodate your guests’ preferences than you might think.

1. Take the initiative.

When sending out your holiday get-together invitation, ask your invitees to respond with their dietary restrictions. Some guests are hesitant about voicing their special needs for fear of being a bother, and others get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and forget to mention it. Making a point to ask specifically and cheerfully allows you to plan accordingly and not get caught off-guard at the last minute, while also setting your friends’ minds at ease.

2. Ask guests to contribute.

These days, it’s rare that the host prepares every single dish. Don’t be shy to ask your guests with special dietary needs to bring along a favorite option. They’ll be delighted to contribute a dish they know they can eat. Plus, it’s an opportunity to show other guests how delicious a special-diet version can be, which helps the cause for future holidays.

3. Serve one dish instead of two.

Even if you don’t want to go the potluck route, the holiday dinner shouldn’t be a made-to-order eating event. It’s natural to want to please everyone, but there are more than enough special-diet ingredients on the market to allow you to make one version of a dish that works for all eaters. Here are some easy substitutions.

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