More Holiday Survival Tips, Recipes, and More


Below are submissions from people like you who have been there/done that and want to share their advice on surviving the holidays of the year. There are also recipes and links to help you make the holidays a great and fun time of year!

We'd love to hear from you about your experiences and advice!

Topics in this category:

Helpful Tips for Gatherings

  • We attended an extended family reunion a couple of years ago. I made up iron-on signs for my son's T-shirts and a baseball cap. I had the red circle with a line through it and said 'FOOD ALLERGY' and said under it "Don't give this child ANYTHING to eat!" We also kept a close eye on him ofcourse.
    Natalie, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Send out a short note or email to everyone you will be enjoying the company of during the holidays, including office co-workers explaining a few challenges unique to your family at this time of year
    Janice, Grand Forks, ND
  • Trade your child for the treats that he/she cannot have for acceptable treats, small toys (vending machine supply distributors are a great resource) or even money!
    Melanie, Visalia, CA
  • When we are hosting a birthday party or big holiday gathering, I always try to schedule a community outing with our ABA therapists. You may have to give up a regular session, but this is an outstanding opportuntiy to practice important skills in the most dynamic settings with the right kind of support. That is well worth it! Give the therapist an idea of how the event/day/outing will be, and predetermine what skills you really want to focus on (maybe greeting people verbally or non-verbally depending on skill level or perhaps self regulation--keep it simple). If you don't have the ability to use a therapist, find someone in your family to play that same role during the event. Take the time to train them ahead of time so that they understand what their role will be. This is not babysitting! This is real therapy. This is real life, and our kids need support. They deserve to have a successful vacation/outing/party, so plan ahead.
    Holly, Glendale, CA

Easter Egg Hunts

  • Totally skip the candy. I buy lots of little toys to put into plastic eggs. Find a local vending machine distributor or order from Oriental Trading Co. This stuff is also great for stuffing piñatas or treasure hunts.
    Lynne, Exeter, CA


  • Pack GFCF treats, small toys and activities should you be traveling a long distance. The portable DVD players were one of the best investments that we ever made. We also play the silly car games like 'Find-each-letter-of-the-alphabet-in-order' 'I Spy' ' Bingo'
    Melanie, Visalia, CA
  • Be sure to take any items of comfort, our guy calms himself with a calculator or his leapster when things get too crazy!
    Nancy, Santa Rosa, CA

School Vacations

  • When our son was still in an intensive home ABA program, we ensured that his IEP included make-up hours that could be used any time throughout the school year, including weekends and breaks. This was extremely beneficial as he was able to have therapy during the down time during Winter and Spring Breaks, where many of the other children with IEPs in his school did not. During the six years that he had an in-home program, there was never a time he had NOT accrued many missed hours from therapist cancellations.
    Diane, Nashville, TN
  • Have activities planned and try to keep the daily schedule somewhat the same. OR use this time to mix it up and start to combat rigidity if you are brave!
    Melanie, Visalia, CA

GFCF Candy That You Can Pick Up Just About Anywhere

Willy Wonka Candy

  • Gobstoppers
  • Bottle Caps
  • Pixy Stix
  • Nerds
  • Runts

Just Born Candy
Just Born Company states that the products below are gluten free but encourages you to check labels for possible casein ingredients.

  • Peeps
  • Mike & Ikes
  • Hot Tamales
  • Teene Beene Jelly Beans

Jelly Belly Jelly Beans

The company states that all of their Jelly Belly products are dairy free and gluten free.

Mason Dots and Dubble Bubble

Dum Dum Pops




Create your own personalized Fruit Roll Ups!

See our GFCF Shopping List for More Items.


Amanda's Own Confections

Edward & Son's

Chocolate Covered Fondants - Orange Mint chocolate dipped similar to Junior Mints

Natural Candy Stores - Chocolate Easter bunnies - This link will bring you to a GFCFSF chocolate easter bunny. This online store also has GFCF section, and an allergen free section.

Tropical Source

  • Chocolate Chips
  • Semi-Sweet Chips dairy free
  • Expresso Roast dairy free
  • Wild Rice Crisp
  • Toasted Almonds
  • Red Raspberry Crush
  • Sundried Jungle Banana
  • Mint Candy Crunch
  • Hazelnut Expresso Crunch

Chocolate Emporium

  • Clusters
  • Creams Chocolate Fudge, Coconut Patty, Crème de Menthe, Marshmallow
  • Peanut Butter Cups
  • Fudge - Chocolate, Chocolate Walnut, Peanut Butter, Raspberry
  • Dipped Chocolate Cordials
  • Truffles - Black Forest, Chocolate, Hazelnut, Mocha, Orange, Rum, Raspberry
  • Mint Lentils (similar to M&M's - mint flavored)
  • Chocolate Lentils (similar to M&M's)
  • Rainbow Raisins (chocolate covered raisins in a fruity candy shell)
  • Chocolate non-pareils (large "snowcaps")
  • Assorted Chocolate Pops for Kids
  • Chocolate Chips


  • White Chocolate Chips


  • Chocolate Beans (like M&M's)


  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Decoratif Sprinkles

Giambri's Candy

  • Homemade Candy... Fresh Natural Ingredients. Specify gluten & Casein free when ordering.

Soy Free & GFCF Candy

Soy Free Sales (GFCF Chocolates)

  • Dark French Chocolate
  • Dark, Semisweet Chocolate Drops
  • Coffee Chocolate Chips
  • Economy Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Candy Making Supplies

Candyland Crafts -molds, sucker sticks, wrappers and boxes

Kitchen Krafts - molds, candymaking ingredients, boxes

Get Suckered - stainless steel molds for candy


Herb-Roasted Lamb

12 large unpeeled garlic cloves, divided
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted CF margarine, melted
1 (6-pound) boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and tied
4 to 5 pounds small unpeeled potatoes (16 to 20 potatoes)
2 tablespoons good olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven so the lamb will sit in the middle of the oven.

Peel 6 of the cloves of garlic and place them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the rosemary, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and butter. Process until the garlic and rosemary are finely minced. Thoroughly coat the top and sides of the lamb with the rosemary mixture. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Toss the potatoes and remaining unpeeled garlic in a bowl with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place the lamb on top of the potatoes and roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the lamb is 135 degrees (rare) or 145 degrees (medium). Remove from the oven and put the lamb on a platter; cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow the lamb to rest for about 20 minutes. Slice and serve with the potatoes.

Poached Salmon

2 salmon fillets 8 oz each
salt to taste
2 cups dry white wine
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1 bay leaf

Arrange salmon in a single layer in a skillet that is 2 inches deep. Season with salt. Add enough water and wine to completely cover the salmon; add coriander seeds and bay leaf. Slowly bring liquid barely to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover the skillet and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes or until the salmon looks opaque.

Turn heat off and let stand covered for 10 minutes or until you are done eating your greens.

To make whole fish, use enough wine and water to cover fish body and double coriander, salt and bay leaves when poaching.

Prime Rib with Roasted Garlic and Horseradish Crust

30 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup prepared white cream-style horseradish
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 6-pound well-trimmed boneless beef rib roast

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss garlic cloves and olive oil in small baking dish; cover. Bake until garlic begins to brown, about 35 minutes. Drain olive oil into processor. Cool 15 minutes. Peel garlic; place in processor. Add prepared horseradish and coarse salt. Puree until almost smooth.

Place rack on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Spread thin layer of garlic mixture on underside of beef. Place beef, garlic mixture side down, onto rack. Spread beef with remaining garlic mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or up to 1 day.

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Uncover beef. Roast until thermometer inserted into top center registers 125°F for rare, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Transfer beef to platter; let stand 30 minutes. Scrape pan juices into small saucepan.

Slice beef crosswise. Rewarm juices; drizzle over beef.

Green Beans with Lemon and Walnuts

4 cups water
2 pounds green beans, trimmed
grated lemon rind, zested
6 tablespoons CF margarine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
salt and pepper
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted

Steam beans until tender but still bright green (8-10 minutes). Transfer to bowl, toss with lemon zest, margarine and juice. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a warm platter, sprinkle with the toasted nuts. Serve immediately.

Toasted nuts: Bake at 350°F in a single layer, stirring once after 5-7 minutes. Cook another 5-7 minutes until the nuts give off a toasted aroma.

Grilled Asparagus with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

1 pound thick locally-grown asparagus spears, woody ends removed
Light olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bunch watercress
Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette (see below)

Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon, minced
2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons light olive oil
Combine everything but the oil in a small bowl. Then drizzle the oil in and whisk. Whisk in a little mustard if you’re using ordinary lemons. Makes about 1/2 cup

1. Prepare the charcoal grill.
2. Brush the asparagus lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill over a medium-hot fire for about 5 minutes, turning the asparagus until the skin is slightly charred and the spears tender.
3. Wash the watercress, dry it in a spinner, and arrange it on a platter. Place the grilled asparagus on the watercress; drizzle with vinaigrette.

Coconut Brown Rice Pudding


2 (13 1/2-ounce) cans light coconut milk
3 1/4 cups milk substitute
3/4 cup short-grain brown rice
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup sugar


Put the coconut milk, milk substitute, rice, salt and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat so the liquid simmers very gently. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender but chewy and absorbs most of the liquid, about 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the pudding from the heat and transfer to a bowl, or divide among 4 to 6 individual bowls. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and cool in the refrigerator, about 1 hour.

To serve, top with brown sugar and bananas.

Other topping suggestions: Diced fresh pineapple with toasted coconut and finely grated lime zest, berries or peaches sweetned with honey or 2/3 cup dried blueberries steeped in 1/2 cup boiling water.

Find more recipes in the Recipes Database