Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halloween and Food Allergies- What's a goblin to do?

Halloween time rolls around, and I get a lot of questions (and assumptions) about how we handle Halloween with food allergies. Most people just assume that we opt out of the whole shebang, but that couldn't be further from the truth! We have awesome Halloween traditions!  I want to share them with you, along with some practical tips, especially with you families that are facing their first Halloween with a food allergic child. 

For sure, Halloween can be a scary, and if we're being honest, a truly terrifying day!  The idea of someone putting a deadly substance in your child's trick or treat bag, or of the sticky candy -coated fingers of the neighbor kid next door coming just too close to your food allergic kiddo....these are enough to make any food allergy parent scream and run.  But you don't have to! Halloween can be fun, safe, and memorable for all the right reasons, with some advance planning and attention to detail. Here's how we do Halloween in our family! 

We usually start the day with a Halloween party with our home school group. Games, a costume parade, and non-food treats to share. After the party, we head home and take a rest in order to get ready for the evening's activities.  We have a nice dinner, get the costumes back on and head out for trick-or-treating.  Yep, we go trick-or-treating.  Because some of our children are still quite young, we only go to 10 houses or so.  Here are some tips I have about making it as safe as possible:

  • Incorporate gloves into the costumes, reduce the possibility of exposure.  I use dollar tree knit gloves, and I just toss them at the end of the night.  
  • Use a single use trick-or-treating bag, NOT a pillowcase, or an expensive cute bag that your child will want to play with again.
  • Go up to the door with your child, and if you see a Payday candy bar headed into the bag, politely say "He's allergic to peanuts, do you have a different kind?"  (No one ever just gives out one type of candy, everyone has always responded positively to this...) 
Now, here's my big secret: the candy never enters our house! When we get home, the kids gather on the front porch, and they trade in their bags of candy to me for a clue.  Our tradition is to have a wild SCAVENGER HUNT once we arrive home! 
Here's this year's first clue.  Where do YOU think they should look for Clue #2? Tell me your answer in the comments section to be entered to win a copy of my PDF download: 12 Cookies of Christmas! (Giveaway concluded)
As my kids have gotten older, the clues have gotten more numerous and difficult, and the whole thing gets a little more wild and raucous, but they ALWAYS find the treasure!  What's the treasure? A cute Halloween bag of safe treats and non-food goodies!  This event is much anticipated every year, and honestly, it's the best part of our Halloween!  This year the goody bags will include:
  • art supplies like crayons and colored pencils
  • safe homemade cookies
  • New earbuds for MP3 players for the older ones, coloring books for the little ones, and mini bags of Legos for the middle ones!
So, what happens to all the candy?  Well, my husband, who has a huge sweet tooth (don't tell his dentist), takes the bags straight into his basement workshop.  (The peanut candy gets thrown away, the other candy goes to my husband.) 

I hope that you have a wonderful and safe Halloween this year!  If you need ideas for safe baked goods to make for your children, get a copy of my ebook!  "Love Letters from My Kitchen," there are tons of delicious treats that everyone in your family will love, food allergies, or not!  Also available in paperback

 As always, from The Allergy Safe Kitchen, I wish you "Good Cooking, and Safe Eating"!

Photo Credit: Pumpkins - Aidan Van Horn

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