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The 10 Best Snacks And Treats For Kids' Parties

Try these delicious allergy-friendly foods for children's birthday parties and other events.

The holiday season is over, but the celebrations keep coming. In the past month, my kindergarten-aged son has been invited to four different birthday parties, promising a constant mid-winter rotation of trampoline parks, arcades, and bowling alleys. With every invitation, the parents have included the same instruction: Please let me know if your child has any food allergies and what needs to be done. This usually prompts a longer discussion, since many well-intentioned parents don't know where to start.

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My son and I have it all worked out: I send him to events with a bright watermelon cooler bag. The cute accessory stealthily doubles as a purse when we're out together, so I don't get questioned about bringing outside food into an establishment. The distinctive design helps my son easily find it, and he always knows the food inside is safe, in case there's nothing else he can eat at a party.

Since gluten-free and other allergen-friendly foods can be more expensive, I offer to buy the safe foods myself, and I aim for items as similar as possible to what's being served. Most parents are thrilled that I've taken the task away from them—but in case you're hosting a birthday party or similar event, here are 10 treat and snack ideas to help cater to kids with allergies.

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Goodie Girl Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Sandwich Cookies

These vanilla creme sandwich cookies (think Vanilla Oreos) taste delicious, and that's a consensus opinion. Everyone who has tried them says they like these cookies, no matter how picky their palate. Another bonus: The recipe contains no gluten, peanuts, eggs, dairy, or artificial preservatives.

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The miniature sprinkle flecks in the crème are just detectable enough to make kids happy and not large enough for anti-sprinkle people to eschew. These cookies are available at Target.

Black Forest Organic Gummy Bears

So many parents offer fun-size bags of Haribo gummy bears in party gift bags or on the snack table. Unfortunately, both Haribo and Albanese contain wheat and traces of milk, rendering them inedible to anyone with allergies.

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For less than $20, you can get 65 pouches (0.8-oz. each) of Black Forest Organic Gummy Bears on Amazon. These packets are also great for school lunches.

Kettle Brand Potato Chips

Certified gluten free and non-GMO, Kettle's Krinkle Cut Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper potato chips are like Frito-Lay's Ruffles, but with a superior flavor. Both this variety and the Honey Dijon are my son's favorites. You can find them at Walmart and a number of other major retailers.

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SkinnyPop Popcorn

I can't tell you the number of times we've gone to a party where Pirate's Booty is served and my son is frustrated he can't eat it like everyone else. Popcorn, too, is a minefield: Most popcorn has butter on it, and butter means dairy. SkinnyPop Popcorn is both gluten-free and vegan because its ingredients list contains only popcorn, sunflower oil, and salt. You can purchase a big bag or smaller individual bags for parties. It's available virtually anywhere snacks are sold.

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Trader Joe’s Organic Apple Strawberry Flavored Fruit Leather Wrap

Certified organic, this fruit leather, specifically the Apple Strawberry flavor, is made with apple juice and organic strawberry puree. These grab-and-go bars are easy to eat, taste great, and don't melt in the heat.

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Notably, the Apple Strawberry fruit leathers also doesn't include mango, as many fruit leather products do. That's a huge plus, since my son is allergic to mango. Urushiol, the oil substance in the mango plant's sap, is in the same family as poison ivy and can cause a similar reaction in some people.

Enjoy Life Minis chocolate candy bars 

Do yourself a favor and DoorDash a variety pack of these dairy-free mini chocolate bars, which includes dark chocolate, ricemilk chocolate, and ricemilk crunch varieties (the latter of which is like an organic, better-tasting version of a Nestlé Crunch chocolate bar).

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For about $7, you can get a pack of 15 individually wrapped mini candy bars that are not only gluten-free, but also free of 14 common food allergens. In the Chicago area, Fresh Thyme market has Enjoy Life products available on DoorDash and they're also on Instacart. The store locator will show you where to find them in store and online.

Trader Joe’s Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips

Maybe it's as simple as the fact that they're a fun blue color, but these organic, stoneground blue corn tortilla chips are favorite among kids and adults alike. They are good for plain snacking or pairing with party dip.

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Dots

Made by Tootsie, these artificially flavored gumdrops are chock full of corn syrup, sugar, and artificial dyes—and they are a perennial crowd-pleaser. Get a movie-theater-sized box for $1.29 at Target or other big-box stores.

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My preferred alternative is Trader Joe's Scandinavian Swimmers or Just the Lobsters gummies. Both are made from cane sugar and tapioca syrup with colors made from fruit and vegetable juice.

Chocolate No No’s

These non-dairy, gluten-free, and nut-free "M&M's" made by No Whey! Foods are a new favorite in our household, featuring a hard candy shell with an interior of soft chocolate. Chocolate No No's are conveniently sold in single-serve packs, including a family pack of 12 individual bags, which make them an easy option for parties.

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Snyder’s of Hanover Gluten Free Pretzel Rods

These large pretzel rods are perfect on their own, or can be dipped in Enjoy Life chocolate and covered in sprinkles for an easy party dessert.

Alternatively, Snyder's makes gluten free mini twist pretzels as well. Made without dairy or eggs, these pretzels are always a hit. Many people say they even taste better, since they're crunchier than wheat-based pretzels.

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