When my son turned 2, I was faced with a dilemma. We are a whole-food, non-processed, low-plastic household, and I think it is important to spend an extra dollar or two to get organic food free from additives and preservatives for my kid. But when it came to his birthday cake, I needed to get enough to feed approximately 40 people. To get a cake that upheld our usual standards, it would mean spending around $60 on a cake from a specialty store, when I could get a huge sheet cake with plenty for all from Costco for under $20. Was it worth spending that much, especially when most people eating it wouldn’t care?
Fortunately, the decision was made for me. One of my son’s weekly babysitters, who watched him for free, had a gluten allergy. I thought about just getting her a cupcake, but I didn’t want her to be singled out, so I went ahead and ordered the crazy gluten-free cake from a great (but expensive) local vegan bakery.
It turned out I made a very good choice. Not only was my babysitter gluten-free, but her daughter was, as well, which I had not known. When her six-year-old daughter realized that she was going to be able to have a slice of REAL birthday cake, she went through the roof. In all the birthday parties she had attended, she had always been given a gluten-free cupcake. She had never had her own, real, honest-to-goodness slice of birthday cake. The excitement she had for getting to experience something so incredibly normal brought joy to my heart and made the cost worth it. It turned out another kid there had an egg allergy, so the fact it was vegan allowed another kid to experience the special joy of a slice of birthday cake.
There is an organization out there called the Teal Pumpkin Project. It allows you to add your home to a map so kids with allergies in your area will know your house has something just for them. So be sure to get some stickers, trinkets, slap bracelets, Pogs, whatever is in right now - and put it in a separate plastic pumpkin for the kids in your neighborhood. I sign up my house every year. We don’t deal with allergies, but something doesn’t have to affect you for you to be part of the solution.