Holiday Indulgences: Our 5 Favorite Holiday Treats

Tis the season for indulging in everything sugary and rich! We don’t eat this way all year (nor should we!), but as long as the holidays are here we may as well eat the best of the best. This week The Lakeside Collection is having a cookie swap so we’ve been scouring Pinterest for the cutest and tastiest recipes we want to try and trade. Here are our 5 favorite holiday treats from Pinterest.

donut-hole-snowmenDonut Hole Snowmen How adorable are these? This one comes from Danelle at Let’s Dish Recipes. They actually look like little snowmen! But the best part is, there’s no baking required! So even if you’re not a master baker, you can bring these to your next holiday gathering. Everyone will be impressed and all you have to do is build a snowman with sugar.

Cheesecake-BitesGingerbread Cheesecake Bites These tiny cakes have all the tastiness of cheesecake with a holiday accent! This recipe comes from Diane at Created by Diane. These are easy to make, but the recipe does require that you turn on your oven — if you can do that, you can make these tasty treats.

Reindeer-TreatsReindeer Treats From the crafty minds at Lil’ Luna, we have no-bake Reindeer Treats! This one might be a fun project for the kids — all you need are salty pretzels, sweet Rolos, red candies, and time for crafting. Whether you’re going to an adult party or you’re entertaining children, these treats add just a little more joy to the festivities.

wreath-cupcakesWreath Cupcakes Turn on the oven and break out the mixing bowls for these cupcakes! Cake, frosting, fruit by the foot and a few M&Ms are magically transformed into a wreath! This one comes from Your Cup of Cake where they know a little something about cupcakes. They’re simple to make, but it make take a little extra time to make these sweet treats.

reindeer-chowReindeer Chow Forget Chex Mix this season — Reindeer Chow is the snack of choice for crowds this season! The Budget Savvy Diva is the brains behind this brilliantly festive treat. If you have can run a microwave, you make this recipe!  Or, if you want to pass the activity on to your kids, it’s easy enough for them to make with just a little bit of guidance.

There are so many treats we are dying to try at The Lakeside Collection! Check out our Pinterest page for more ideas for fun treats and easy eats this holiday season.

The History of the Brownie

BrowniesNational Brownie Day is December 8th — it’s a day on which we should all take a moment to honor one of the finest chocolate confections ever invented. There are many versions of the brownie — they come topped with frosting, sprinkled with powdered sugar, filled with nuts, or swirled with caramel — but the alleged original recipe wasn’t quite like what we eat today. Because The Lakeside Collection is based out of Chicago, we hold a special place in hearts for the brownie as Chicago is the birthplace of the brownie, according to legend. Here’s a little history of the brownie.

The original brownie was conceived by a pastry chef at The Palmer House Hotel in Chicago’s Loop during one of the most significant events in the Midwestern mecca’s history — The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (The World’s Fair). This particular World’s Fair celebrated the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World. The fair lasted five months and attracted more than 27 million visitors. The fair introduced major innovations in the world that we still use today: spray paint, fluorescent lights, the moving walkway, the Ferris Wheel, and Juicy Fruit Gum among others.Brownies

As legend has it, Bertha Palmer, the wife of dry goods salesman and owner of the Palmer House Hotel, Potter Palmer, was a legendary socialite in Chicago in the late 19th century. Every day was an event for the World’s Fair and Bertha needed a portable sweet snack to fit in boxed lunches for her lady friends as they attended the fair.

What the hotel’s pastry chef came up with is what they still serve at The Palmer House today.

Here is an updated twist on the original brownie recipe:

BrowniesBrownie Ingredients

  • 9 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted
  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cups chopped walnuts

BrowniesCherry Glaze Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cherry preserves
  • 2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder


Preheat the oven to 325℉.

In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (except the walnuts). In another bowl, combine butter and chocolate and mix well. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture.


Pour the brownie mixture in a prepared 8”x8” pan and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the walnuts over the batter. Let them sit on top — they will sink during baking. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. It will be bubbly. Slide a paring knife around the edges and let it cool a little bit while you make the glaze.

browniesFor the glaze:

In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the water, cherry preserves and gelatin. Bring to a boil and let it bubble for two minutes. Remove from heat. It will be runny. Pour the glaze over the brownies while the glaze is hot. Cool completely. Place in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours or until it’s completely frozen. Let it thaw slightly before slicing and serving.

These brownies aren’t like the brownies we know today — they’re not as chewy, but they are certainly as delicious and they’ll satisfy a sweet or chocolate craving. But whether you want to know what 19th century socialites were eating at The World’s Fair or you just want to indulge in something chocolatey, Brownie Day is as good of an excuse as any to bake up sweet treats.


6 Personalized Presents to Fit Just About Anyone on Your List

Coming up with the people to put on your holiday gift list is easy; making those gifts unique is a different kind of task. We’ve come up with a few items to make each of your gifts exceptional and personal. Here are 6 personalized presents to fit just about anyone on your list.

Personalized-pet-furniture-coverFor the Furry Friend The Personalized Pet Furniture Covers gives a dog or cat owner peace of mind when the pets jump on the couch. The furniture cover protects upholstered sofas, couches and chairs from soil, pet hair and scratches with the personal touch of their beloved pet’s name. The quilted, throw-style cover fits almost any size and style chair, loveseat or sofa.

Personalized-sleeping-bagIndividual Nap Sack This Personalized Sleeping Bag is perfect for sleepovers, camping trips or hanging out in the living room!  Soft and warm, it is sure to keep them nice and cozy. Rolls up and easily fits in the included carrying tote making it convenient for traveling and adding a name to be stitched in makes it practical and personal.

Personalized-pendantPersonal Pendants For your spiritual loved ones, have their names added to the Personalized Cross Pendant for a unique and unforgettable present. The shimmering yet subtle pendant has a cutout cross that can be worn every day or on special occasions.

Adorable Dolls Make this holiday extra special for the little girl in your life with a Personalized Holiday Rag Doll. She’ll love playing with this adorable rag doll with her name or her favorite name embroidered on to the doll’s dress! Dressed in a holiday romper, this doll will make Christmas morning one your little girl won’t want to forget.

Personalized-babyPersonal Pajamas Personalized Infant Long Johns are a cute gift that will keep them cozy. These charming long johns are perfect for taking naps or crawling around the house on Christmas! Personalize the back flap with a name or a cute phrase like “Baby’s First Christmas” to make the season memorable.

Personalized-sibling-tshirtCollectively Cute This Personalized Sibling T-Shirt is a perfect gift for a new big sister or brother, as well as for the new addition to the family! Personalize each with either “little,” “middle” or “big” and the child’s name. It looks adorable and makes a great photo op when siblings wear these shirts together.

The Lakeside Collection has hundreds of other gifts to choose from. Whether you want to make your gift personal or you want to make it practical, we have gifts to suit any personality.

5 Things You Need to Know About Cutting Down Your Own Christmas Tree

Christmas-TreeThanksgiving is this week, but the festivities are just beginning! After the big meal on Thursday, get your Christmas act in gear, starting with the Christmas tree. Artificial trees are great — no mess and easy storage — but if you want a full-family-Christmas-experience, you can go a step further than shopping for a tree on a lot: you can cut one down yourself. Here are 5 things you need to know about cutting down your own Christmas tree.

Dress Appropriately Christmas Tree farms are out in the middle of the country which means you’ll be out in the cold while you hunt for the right tree, cut it down and pack it on to your car. This could take you a few hours so remember to dress for cold weather! Wear a heavy coat, outdoor shoes, a hat, and good gloves for handling a tree. A fleece jacket and knit mittens aren’t going to cut it.

Use a Saw When you think of cutting down a tree like they did way-back-when, chopping it down with an ax is a logical way to think about taking it down, but it’s not practical. It’s messy, it will take a long time for someone who’s never cut down a tree before and it can be exhausting. Bring a chainsaw or a handsaw with you. Some farms don’t allow chainsaws (the fastest, neatest way to cut a tree down), so call or email ahead to make sure you’re bringing the right saw.

Christmas-TreePacking Equipment Bring plenty of rope, twine or bungee cords to secure your tree to your car. If you’re driving a long way out to select your Christmas tree, you’ll be driving a long way back and you want your tree to be tied down tightly as you’re cruising down the interstate. If you have a tarp, wrapping your tree up will help protect your tree from drying wind and protect your car from getting scratched.

Know the Size You Need When you look for your tree, don’t guess-timate the height of your ceilings. A towering tree in your living room won’t look very big against a blue sky. Make sure you have the right size for your house — it will save you time, energy and the headache of having to adjust the size of the tree once you get home and it won’t have to become part of your outdoor holiday decor.

Christmas-TreeShake it Off If the Christmas tree farm you go to offers a shaking service, take advantage of it. A good shake gets rid of more than loose needles — it gets rid of critters, too. Farm mice won’t mind trading their tree house for your house — if you let them.

Cutting down your own Christmas tree is a big project. If you have the time and the energy, the experience will be worth it and it will make your holiday that much more memorable. Once you get it standing and decorated, you’ll want to keep it up well into the next year!

Say Hello with a Gift on World Hello Day

World Hello Day is November 21, and it is a perfect time to promote peace and friendship by just reaching out and saying “hello” to people you know and strangers alike. Sometimes, a small gift can help you greet someone. Here’s how to say hello with a gift on World Hello Day:

Jumbo-NotebookStationery A wonderful way to say “hello” is to give someone stationery they can use to send their own greetings. The Jumbo Notepad and Pen Gift Set is a stylish pair that will get them writing immediately. For the more communicative friend, the 10-Pc. Book of Sticky Notes is an impressive pack of 500 sheets of notes. Each pad is beautifully designed and come in a take-along case. An address book will help them keep track of friends and family so they can pass along a warm “hello” of their own.

glass-paperweightGive Them A Welcome There is an almost endless variety of gifts and home accents that carry the message of “welcome”. A doormat that says “welcome” is a wonderful way to say hello to a new neighbor. Give an Inspirational Glass Paperweight that says “Welcome Friends” to an officemate or teacher to spread the word “hello” and the welcome good feeling.

LOAF-pansBaked Goods Nothing makes a person smile the way an unexpected treat does. Put together a plate of cookies and pass them out at work to to greet your work friends and spread cheer. You also can whip up beautiful loaves of bread in the Holiday Loaf Pan Set for a jolly and seasonal gift. If you are not a gifted baker, pack the Set of 12 Snowman Treat Boxes with wrapped candies and hand them out with a smile.

The Lakeside Collection has a variety of ways to say hello to celebrate World Hello Day. Whether you want to share some snacks or make a big impression, you are sure to find just the right gift at an incredible value.

5 Ideas to Keep Kids Busy on Thanksgiving

girl-helping-thanksgivingYou will soon be welcoming friends and family to your home to share your Thanksgiving feast. Putting together a turkey dinner with all the trimmings is ten times as much work as your regular weeknight dinners and loads more people walking in and out of the kitchen eating, drinking and chatting. With all the kitchen chaos, keeping an eye on the kids and making sure they’re happy is tough as you juggle all the elements for the perfect holiday dinner. Here are 5 ideas to keep kids busy on Thanksgiving.

Reindeer Games Have a few games and puzzles pulled out for the kids to play. Don’t give them too many options — three or four games you know they like (not one you have to teach) is plenty to keep them distracted from their rumbling tummies as you put the finishing touches on the meal. If there are kids coming that your kids don’t know well, games are a good ice breaker and will get everyone interacting with each other. If you’re lucky, they’ll enjoy the games enough that they’ll return to them after dinner.

Thanksgiving-Table-topDuty Calls Give each child a job to do. For the younger children, assign them simple tasks like folding napkins or making sure the spoons are shiny. For older kids, give them the big duties that require critical thinking — put them in charge of the checklist of all the things that need to be done and have them make sure everyone is staying on task. For children of ages in between, have them set the table, greet friends and family at the door and take their coats. Giving kids a hand in the event makes them feel part of the production while giving them something to focus on rather than watching TV while you work.

Letters to Santa Thanksgiving is the perfect time for the kids to write their letters to Santa. Set aside plenty of paper and pens and catalogs (for inspiration) so they can put together their wish lists. For young guests, it will get them excited and distract them from the idea of being in an unfamiliar home. For the kids who no longer write letters to Santa, have them help the younger kids craft the perfect letter to old St. Nick.

Clever Crafts If there are a lot of kids coming over to share your holiday, set up a craft table with Thanksgiving themed projects to work on while the adults socialize and get the turkey on the dinner table. Have the older kids help the younger kids to make it a family activity. A craft table might seem like too much to take on, but giving kids something to pay attention to and work on will save you the headache of coming to the rescue when they get bored. kids-crafting

Last Resort The TV can be tricky when there are a lot of kids with different personalities — you don’t want any clashing over what to watch. Let them turn on the TV, but only give them a few, non-negotiable options for watching TV. Limit the programming to holiday movies or specials. If you have to turn it on, it should be something for everyone to enjoy.

Planning activities or crafts for kids during Thanksgiving is a big task to add to your Thanksgiving plate, but reducing the risk of boredom and tears makes the overtime worth it.  If it’s not doable, pass the job off to one of your guests a few days in advance. Anyone who’s hosted a big Thanksgiving will jump at the chance to help out.

Happy Thanksgiving planning!

7 Movies to Get You Excited About the Holidays

wreathThe holidays are almost here and at The Lakeside Collection we are excited to break out the garland, hot cocoa and candy canes! The guests haven’t arrived yet, so we still have a little bit of time to spend with the family — that means movie night! We have a whole list of movies that get us in the mood for festivities in the next two months — and we think they’ll work on you, too! Here are 7 movies to get you excited about the holidays:

Home-AloneHome Alone Who can resist the young, clever, towheaded Macaulay Culkin? In this 1990 John Hughes classic, he wins us over as Kevin McCallister — the youngest of a horde of children, who’s abandoned in his home while his family is off to Paris for Christmas. While the innocent little guy is trying to survive on his own, his calm, new life of solitude is disrupted by two brainless burglars. But our fearless youngster outsmarts the bad guys just in time for the family to return home on Christmas.

Elf While Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf is decades older than Kevin McCalister, he’s also more naive. This 2003 favorite follows Buddy from his home with Santa and the Elves at the North Pole to New York City to find his biological father — a grouchy man who didn’t know he had a 40-year-old son. To Buddy’s disappointment, his dad rejects him and he’s left to navigate the new city by himself. But Buddy is persistent and as his dad gets to know Buddy, he softens and welcomes Buddy into his family for a merry Christmas.

Muppet-Christmas-CarolThe Muppet Christmas Carol If you’re going to watch any version of the Dickens tale of Ebenezer Scrooge this holiday, make it The Muppet Christmas Carol. Though it’s a dark story, the Muppets give it life and comedy with songs like “Christmas Scat” from Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim. Though they are Muppets, the movie stays true to the story with Michael Caine taking Ebenezer Scrooge from mean old man to kind gentleman, you walk away from it feeling a little more generous.

A Christmas Story Rewind to a 1950’s Christmas in which a Red Ryder BB gun is at the top of 9-year-old Ralphie’s Christmas list. It’s his only fantasy and, despite the warnings he gets from everyone, he wishes and begs for the Red Ryder. Just about anyone can relate to his obsession with getting a toy, but few of us would persevere the way Ralphie does after being discouraged — repeatedly — from getting excited about the Red Ryder. After an awkward Christmas Eve dinner and disappointing Christmas morning, Raphie gets exactly what he wished for —  and way more than what he bargained for.

Christmas-VacationChristmas Vacation We went to Wally World and Europe with the Griswolds, but in Christmas Vacation, they take us us home — but with all the misadventure of their other trips. It’s as uncomfortable and difficult as any other family holiday, just more… wacky and dangerous. With Chevy Chase as Clark, he is as ambitious as ever and simultaneously failing masterfully at all his plans as the holiday arrives. Christmas might be disappointing for the Griswolds, but the Griswolds don’t disappoint us.

Gremlins The best Christmas present ever: a tiny, furry creature with all the charm of a two-week old kitten. The worst Christmas present ever: a tiny, furry creature that multiplies when it gets wet, turns into a scaly, slimy goblin when it eats after midnight and turns your town into a war-zone. That’s what happens when Billy Peltzer receives a “mogwai” over the holidays. This horror-comedy is more hilarious than horrific — it’s good for a laugh as the holidays approach. If you have doubts about its entertainment value, Steven Spielberg was the executive producer and the director was Chris Columbus of Home Alone fame.

GrinchHow the Grinch Stole Christmas Looking vaguely similar to a gremlin, the Grinch is only slightly less menacing as the mythical creatures. The bitter Grinch — annoyed by Christmas cheer, takes it upon himself to make the holiday as miserable for everyone in Whoville as it is for him. He dresses up as Santa Claus, sneaks into all the homes to steal presents before they can be opened. Despite the Grinch’s efforts to put a stop to Christmas, he didn’t destroy Whoville’s Christmas spirit but, in the process, made a change for the good in himself.

You only get so many weekend nights in before the family and guests start trickling in for the holidays. With gift shopping and holiday parties ahead, things are only going to get more crazy. Make the most of the calm moments before the storm for movies with the kids to enjoy the holidays before they get hectic.

4 Ways to Use Cranberries

CranberriesIt’s November and here at The Lakeside Collection we’re excited about the holidays! While we’re whittling down our gift lists, food and decor are coming together simultaneously — and some of those items are interchangeable, for instance: the cranberry. When they’re ripe, they’re the deep red we think of for holiday decor and winter warmth. They are also native to North America and, according to the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association, the Pilgrims learned how to use cranberries for food, dyes and medicine from Native Americans — which may be why we see them on our Thanksgiving tables every year. Cranberries are versatile and festive little fruits. Here are 4 ways to use cranberries this holiday season:

Cranberry Sauce If you have only served cranberries from a can for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, you don’t know what you’re missing with homemade cranberry sauce — and it’s just as easy as opening a can.


  • 16 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice.

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let bubble (about 5 minutes). When the cranberries have popped, remove the pan from the heat. Set aside to cool. This recipe can be made days ahead of your dinner and it can easily be doubled, tripled or cut in half.

Stringing cranberries and popcornGarland Cranberries are very hearty. If you buy them fresh, they can sit in your refrigerator for months after the holidays without spoiling. This makes them great for garland. In addition to the cranberries, all you need are dental floss and a sewing needle. They’re easy to make: tie a big knot at the end of the floss, thread the needle and string the cranberries together. The garland can be as short or long as you want to add holiday flair — use them to decorate the tree, dress up the mantle or brighten the bannister. If you want to add contrast, add popcorn to the mix — alternate between a piece of popcorn and a cranberry. If you’re doing this as a project with kids, don’t let them eat the cranberries. Though they are beautiful little fruits, raw cranberries are extremely tart.

Floating Candles Cranberries float. Putting them in a bowl with water isn’t like putting other fruit — like grapes — in a bowl of water. Though they seem very dense, they sit on the surface of water just like a raft. This makes them the perfect accompaniment to floating candles. All you need are hurricanes or clear glass containers, cranberries and floating candles. Fill the container (about half-way) with water, add a handful of cranberries and then arrange the candle in the cranberries. The cranberries should last about a week. If you have bigger candles you want to use, you can use the cranberries as a base to hold the candle without the water.

Cranberry Bread The holidays mean family will be visiting or you will be visiting family with lots of meals — including breakfast. This a an easy quick bread that’s great for breakfast that’s not too sweet and goes well with coffee (it can also be made into muffins).


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Crumble topping (optional):

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 TB cold butter, cubed
  • ½ cup oats
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F. For the bread, combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Combine the egg and milk and add to the dry ingredients and stir until everything is moist but still lumpy. Gently stir in butter (do not over mix — it should still be lumpy). Fold in cranberries and nuts

For the crumble topping, combine all the ingredients and mix well. You can mash it with a fork, but it works best if you use your hands. It should resemble crumbly, wet sand when you’re done.

mini-loaf-pansGrease loaf pans — 9 ½” x 5 ½” loaf pans work great, but you can also use min-loaf pans. Sprinkle the crumble topping on top of the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes. Check for doneness and turn if one side is browning faster than the other. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

With its luscious red exterior and tart, juicy interior, the cranberry is certainly the fruit of the holiday season. With all its flavor and beauty, it’s hard to get sick of the cranberry — but they’re only harvest in the fall so use them whenever and wherever you can now!

Cook Something Bold Day: 3 Books to Explore Bold Cooking

Bold-FoodNovember 8th is Cook Something Bold Day! This is your chance to take on the kitchen and create something original and spicy! Take some time this weekend to dive into your spice rack and leave your culinary comfort zone. Try something new to wake up your taste buds and celebrate flavorful ingredients like garlic and hot peppers. But if you need some guidance on creating something spectacular, here are 3 books to explore bold cooking.

diners-drive-ins-and-divesDiners, Drive-Ins and Dives Take a trip to Flavortown with the all-new Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives cookbook. Guy Fieri is known for finding the wildest tastes around, and this collection of nearly 70 recipes does not disappoint. Try some Green Chile Stew or a braised brisket made with a rub of coffee and ancho chili powder.

Miss-kayMiss Kay’s Duck Commander Kitchen Challenge your taste buds with the more than 100 specially chosen recipes straight from the Robertson kitchen in Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Kitchen. Sample savory Cajun dishes like spicy chicken strips and crawfish fettuccine. Sweet flavors like the fresh strawberry pie and coconut cream pie make perfect desserts. Do those recipes sound too tame for you? Then dive into dishes made with out-of-the-ordinary ingredients like frog legs, squirrel, and, of course, duck.

webers-smokeWeber’s Smoke™ Cookbook If cooking outdoors is more your thing, check out the recipes in the Weber’s Smoke™ Cookbook. It is packed with ideas for all skill levels from beginning smoker to grill master. Create savory and smoky baby back ribs with ease. If you are looking for something more adventurous, try the smoked duck and cherry sausage recipe.

Remember, when you test out a new recipe, there is no need to stick to the ingredient list. The tastiest results often come when boldness is combined with innovation. Try a few of your own ideas for a flavor that is truly unique!

7 Tips on Hosting the Holidays Around Food Allergies

TThanksgivinghe holidays are all about family and food — and when you’re cooking for a crowd, you’re working around as many diets as you are personalities. It’s one thing when someone doesn’t like a certain dish, but it’s quite another if someone has an intolerance or allergy to a particular food. Here are 7 tips on hosting the holidays around food allergies.

Invitations When you’re planning the guest list and sending out invitations, make sure to ask if there are any food allergies. You may not be able to make all the food allergy-free, but asking your friends and family for diet restrictions will help you plan an accommodating menu.

Make a Chart Map out all of the food you want to serve and all of the separate diet restrictions. Decide what dishes are naturally allergy-friendly, which ones can be adjusted to be allergy-friendly and which ones are off-limits for diet restrictions. Make sure there are items for everyone to have a delicious and balanced holiday dinner.

Allergy-freeLabel Everything If you have a lot of allergies, make sure to label your dishes with the ingredients — it doesn’t have to list every ingredient, but highlighting safe or unsafe foods is helpful for guests. For instance: “Contains Dairy” on a pumpkin pie or “Gluten-Free” on green bean casserole will steer diners in the right direction to suit their diets. The labels don’t have to be ominous — be creative with them! Craft something cheery for the holiday.

Cook from Scratch When you cook and bake everything from scratch, you have control over everything that goes into the meal — you’ll know if there’s meat, nuts, milk, or gluten in what you make. If you can’t make everything from scratch, make sure to keep the labels for the store-bought items for your guests to refer to. Quick tip: make the allergy-friendly foods before you make the bulk of the meal to avoid cross contaminating the food.

bakersSanitize Wash everything really well before making allergy-friendly foods. Treat every dish as if you just cut up raw chicken with it. For someone with a severe allergy, it’s not an unreasonable safeguard.

Ask for Help If there are major diet restrictions, ask your guests to bring an allergy-friendly food they can eat. Be sure to have them list ingredients they used or a bring the label with them to dinner.

Extra Precautions Have an EpiPen on hand. The holidays are hectic and when parents are managing more than one child an EpiPen may fall through the cracks of their plans to make it to your house for dinner on time. Even if you don’t have allergies in your household, having an EpiPen in case of emergency could save the holiday.

For severe allergies, you may want to eliminate some items from your menu altogether. It seems extreme, but it might be a precaution worth taking to give yourself a stress-free holiday.

Traditional holiday meals are far from allergy-free. It seems like a big project to work around food allergies, but that little bit of work is a small price to pay for a safe and happy holiday meal.