WG is entering the age of the Birthday Party. Parties are magical and intriguing things to her right now. She has been planning her own party since February. She wants a strawberry cake with green, yellow, and chocolate frosting. Hmmmm...
Parties present a challenge when you must eat gluten free. WG understands that she eats differently than other people and she is okay with that for now (knock on wood!). It is important to us that she be able to take part in social events and we don't want her to feel out of place because of her food. We are used to packing our own food by now. When there is a party I try to find out the menu ahead of time so that I can try to come up with something similar for WG to take. She loves rice cakes with peanut butter but that would not be an acceptable alternative when the other guests are eating pepperoni pizza.
We never expect the host to accommodate her dietary restrictions. It's touching when they do, but we never assume that there will be something safe for her to eat. We always pack our own.
The rule of offering something better definately applies here, too. Party food should be appealing to the child who has to eat it.
It should also be appealing to their friends who don't have to eat it.
Think about it. If you send food that looks and smells weird to the other kids they will tell your child and your child will be more likely to reject what you've sent and try to cheat. If you send something with real appeal, like a cupcake with a ton of swirly frosting and M&M's, suddenly your child has a hot commodity and eating gluten free just got a little bit more desirable.
This rule applies to your own child's birthday party, too. An ice-cream sundae bar with all sorts of toppings or an ice cream "cake" (without the cake) are safer choices than a gluten free cake. Even if everyone you know LOVES your GF cake, it only takes one young guest to declare it weird for things to go downhill fast. Save the cake for the family celebration.