I only just told you about the snacks at our last party, but we’re already menu-planning for the next. This one is in honor of the birth of a certain Libra you all know: my sister! To celebrate, we decided to channel our mom—an excellent themed-party-thrower if ever there was one—and make a piñata.
There was a brief moment when we thought it wouldn’t work: paper mâché is made using flour, and our home is a flour-free zone. I’m also extremely averse to touching anything with gluten in it, inside the house or out. And our piñata dreams were not worth breaking out the sorghum flour.
Fortunately, cornstarch seems to do the trick. I don’t want to speak too soon—the piñata is still hanging in our kitchen to let the first layer dry, where I risk puncturing it prematurely every morning when I forget it’s there and headbutt it in the dark; and we haven’t yet decorated—but so far, so good.
Making the piñata got me thinking about other classic party games that could be made gluten-free. I know by now you’ve all tried Celiac Sorry!, but if you’re itching for more, here it is.
Which sounds like the most fun to you?
The classic ice breaker. In this version, players must line up in order of their date of diagnosis without communicating out loud. This makes the hierarchy clear early in the party.
One player is anointed Simon and calls out commands to the other players. If the command is prefaced with “Simon says,” players must do it. If not, players must not. Disobeying, whether on purpose or by accident, is grounds for dismissal. Nice Simons do not make commands starting with “Simon says” that end in “Eat a pizza.” Mean Simons do.
Duck, duck, gluten
All players sit in a circle except for one, who walks around tapping people on the heads one at a time saying, “Duck…duck…” until bored. Then he or she whacks a random person on the head hard enough to daze the seated player and yells “GLUTEN!”
This person, now “the Glutened,” must clamber up and chase the original player around the circle as the remaining players still sitting, do their best to trip the unlucky Glutened—simulating the action of our immune antibodies after we ingest gluten.
If the Glutened catches the Glutener before the Glutener can sit in the Glutened’s original spot, the Glutened wins, and has a full recovery. But otherwise, the Glutened is so consumed by gluten that he/she becomes the new Glutener, spitefully paying it forward to another poor duck. (Two things: 1) that’s not really how it works. 2) Ducks with celiac disease would be sad. They’d miss out on all the bread crumbs.)
Pin the villus on the intestinal lining
If you misplace the villus under the intestinal lining, then your villus is blunted. You lose.
Hide and sleep
Besides one, all players find cozy hiding spots. Being typically fatigued, they take the respite from socializing as an opportunity to catch some Zs. The remaining player tries to find them until brainfog sets in, then wanders off in search of gluten-free cake.
Everyone is given a list and set loose in a grocery store to find items such as “gluten-free sourdough pretzels” and “gluten-free filo dough.” They emerge hours later, groggy and miserable, having not found any of the items and cursing whoever wrote that stupid list. To lift their spirits, they binge on gluten-free cake.
Like rock-paper-scissors. Gluten flattens villus; villus starves celiac; celiac eliminates gluten.
Bobbing for apples
It’s like the traditional version, except no one trusts the gluten-freedom of the other players’ mouths enough to stick their own face into a shared bucket of water. Everyone stands around looking at the apples for a while, then wanders off to find gluten-free cake.
Donuts on a string
Forget it. GF donuts are too expensive to drop half of them on the ground.
The flour game
I discovered this on a UK “traditional party games” site, and it is so not gluten-free. I quote:
“Firstly you need to make the ‘flour cake’ by tightly compacting flour into a medium sized mixing bowl. Then turn this out on to a board and top with a large chunk of Mars bar. Each child takes it in turns to slice away sections of the flour cake ensuring the chunk of chocolate remains at the top. The child who eventually topples the chocolate from the top has to find it with their teeth.”
Basically, it’s Jenga, gone oh-so-wrong (especially in an age of increased allergies!).
And there you go! With the exception of that last one—unless you substitute cornstarch—you’re ready for your next celiac-themed birthday party.
As for us? No, we probably won’t play these, and our theme isn’t really “gluten-free.” But the food, drinks, piñata, and candy will be gluten-free (and nut-free!), and those in search of gluten-free cake will not be disappointed. Cross your fingers for us that the piñata actually breaks.
What’s your favorite party or parlor game? Do you prefer parties with or without themes? Have you ever made a piñata, and what candy did you fill it with? (P.S. Are we too old for piñatas?)