Thursday, September 30, 2010

Halloween with Food Allergies

I'm not sure how, but October is upon us yet again. Somehow the sultry summer days have slipped quietly away. In their place are crisp clear days, chilly nights, and increasing anticipation of THE most thrilling fall holiday: Halloween.

For anyone under the age of twelve it doesn't get much better than a day that centers around dressing up and unlimited candy. And staying up past bedtime. And candy. And did I mention candy?

Unless you have food allergies. Then moms and dads everywhere start the great debate: What to do about trick-or-treat? Rest easy, there are many ways to make this work for your family, with the focus on what works for *your* family.

First, there is the obvious out: stay home. This is my approach. We found out my daughter had allergies when she was tiny, she had never been trick or treating so I knew she would not miss it. Really, little people under the age of two don't like to trick or treat anyway. It's dark, there are strangers everywhere who insist on talking to you, and tons of scary monsters walking around demanding candy! Egads man! It's a night of terror, laced with sugar to take the edge off. Your little person won't miss it.

Don't get me wrong, we don't skip Halloween entirely. Seeing all those cute costumes? It's fun. So, we pass out candy. Yep. Dress up in our costumes, fill the candy bucket with safe options, and sit on the porch to pass candy out to the neighborhood. My kids love it as much as my husband! They take turns handing candy to cute costumed kids, or hide behind my husband when the scary costumes show up. When there is a break in the crowd they munch on the treats in the bucket. It's a magical evening of candy, costumes and conversation. It works for us.

I know families that go trick or treating together, then do a huge candy sort at home. Safe candy is kept, unsafe candy set aside for dad to eat/take to the office. Most families let their kids trade the unsafe candy for safe treats. You can do this on a piece by piece basis, trade the whole bag for an approved bag, or set the candy out for the "switch witch", who visits allergic kiddos all over the world to switch their unsafe candy for a safer option. That's right, just place the bag of loot outside your a)bedroom door or b)front door before going to bed, and in the morning you will find a safe treat that the switch witch has left. (Candy? Toys? Hmmm..)

You can visit friends and neighbors in advance and 'plant' safe candy at the houses that you plan on visiting. Your princess can feel like she was part of the big event, your neighbors will feel good about helping her feel included and keeping her safe, and you won't have to worry about how to handle the unsafe treats. Win-win-win. Until they get big enough to catch on anyway!

Some families opt to skip the whole trick-or-treat dilemma by holding a festive holiday party with games, treats, and crafts that are fun for everyone who attends. The goal is to host a Halloween party that is so fun, no one will regret having skipped the door-to-door bore.

If you decide to trick-or-treat the key to making it less stressful is to be prepared. Eat dinner before the big event so the kids are not grumpy and ready to fill up on candy as they go. Bring a safe treat with you to eat while collecting the goodies. Set expectations so that your goblins know how to behave, and what will happen to the collection when they get home.

Also, if your child says "Trick or treat!" in their adorable costume and holds the goodie bag open wide, most people drop candy right in. No touching necessary. Or, gloves can be part of an excellent costume so there is no touching of unsafe candy.

Do you have a solution that I didn't mention? I'd love to hear about it!


  1. Thanks for this post! It gives me great ideas on how to tackle my 1st Halloween with egg allergy ;o)

  2. It's always fun to share ideas! Hope something clicked for you so you can enjoy the holiday.

  3. We use the last option, "Trick or treat!" in their adorable costume and holds the goodie bag open wide, most people drop candy right in while wearing gloves. Then switching the entire bag for some safe things and some lego.
    Allergy Mum -


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