Independence Day is here! Today is likely to be full of fun, food, friends, and family. We hope you have a wonderful day ahead of you. Whether you’re hosting an event and want to make sure all feel welcome, or are heading out and needing accommodations, here are a few tips for how to make the best of it all:
1. You Do You
It’s difficult, when surrounded by people at celebrations, to monitor your own needs. July 4th, in particular, can be pretty over stimulating — the heat, the noise, the food and smells of barbecues… Don’t forget to check in with yourself and the Friends in the Fight around you. Make sure to bring your gear so that you don’t find yourself trapped at a party without enough medication, water, cooling garments, sunblock, etc. Even if it’s not a potluck, consider bringing food for yourself so that you don’t end up choosing between hypoglycemia and eating a trigger food. And if needs come up, advocate for yourself! Take some quiet time if you need it, find some shade, or ask someone to help you out when needed.
2. Provide Options
Educators learning about Universal Design are often presented with analogies along these lines: You’re hosting a party. You make a delicious taco casserole. To your dismay, you find out that one of your friends can’t eat it because it’s not gluten free. Another is vegetarian. Yet another can’t eat the cheese… etc. You end up with a dinner than almost none of your guests can eat! Instead, make a taco bar — use the same ingredients, but separate them, so that guests can pick and choose which of the options work for them.
This analogy can easily apply to hosting a 4th of July celebration. Instead of serving pre-mixed foods, consider offering the ingredients and letting guests assemble their own plates. Rather than choosing indoor, sunny, or shady for your location, let people choose what works best for them. Providing options for things like food, locations, activities, and noise level allows everyone to subtly keep themselves comfortable without making it a big deal.
Whether you’re the host or a guest, don’t be afraid to communicate! People can’t find common ground if they don’t know where it even lies. Think through your guests and try to be aware of any needs they may have. Ask if you need clarification. As a party-goer, think through the day’s activities and try to anticipate what may come up for you. If you would benefit from a change, ask the host — it may not be a big deal! In both cases, it is best to communicate this in advance, if possible, so that there is still time and brain space for making alterations.
It may also be helpful to have a point person. As host, your point person can be in charge of checking in with guests and taking care of changes as needed. As a guest, your point person, hopefully someone who knows your needs well, can anticipate issues and advocate for you; that way you’re not using up all of your spoons (and potentially triggering uncomfortable emotions) by having to ask for multiple accommodations.
Stay tuned for recipes!
Starting tomorrow, we will post a new summer recipe every Friday! Recipes will include creative adaptations for different needs.