Can I be real? You promise you won’t judge? I’m not a big fan of Halloween. Are you still there? Ok, good. Hear me out. As a kid, I loved Halloween. Yes, the costumes, the treats, the staying-out-past-your-bedtime-in-the-pursuit-of-a-sugar-high was a dream come true. As a parent, I love seeing my kids excited about picking out their costumes, and Grady’s love for handing out treats. For allergy parents, Halloween isn’t simply putting on a costume and heading out the door. Halloween is a food-based holiday. Many of the treats handed out contain peanuts, eggs, dairy, etc. Trying to navigate a food-based celebration while ensuring your food-allergic child enjoys the fun, can cause anxiety, insecurity, and stress for many food-allergy parents. My biggest worries?
- The disappointment on my children’s faces when I sift through their candy and find unsafe treats. (Yes, this includes our non-allergic child.)
- People who complain because you’re “denying their child the right to bring treats.”(Yes, I’ve been told this before.)
- Do we get Grady to ask if the treats are safe before accepting them, or do we allow unsafe treats to enter his bag?
- The reactions of others when you ask if their candy is safe.
This year marks our 5th Halloween as an allergy family. To help others navigate this season, here are my top 5 tips for an allergy-friendly Halloween.
5 Tips for an Allergy-Friendly Halloween:
- Plan Your Route: Every year we plan which homes we will be visiting. How do we decide? Weeks before Halloween night, we start receiving texts from family, friends, and neighbours telling us they will be handing out Grady-safe treats. Those homes are added to our route.
- Hand Out Treats with Ingredient Labels: Food labels are essential for anyone with food allergies. Rule #1 of food allergies? If you don’t know the ingredients, don’t eat it! So, if you’re handing out candy this Halloween, make sure that candy comes with an ingredient label.
- Hand Out Non-Food Treats: Yes, I am the first person to admit that I looooovvvveeee me some sweet chocolate and salty chips. For kids with food allergies, collecting candy you can’t eat can take the fun out of Halloween night. To ensure your treats are safe for everyone, consider joining the Teal Pumpkin Project and hand out non-food items like:
- Display a Teal Pumpkin: The best way to let food-allergic trick-or-treaters know you’re handing out safe treats? Display a teal pumpkin. Don’t have a teal pumpkin? Stores like Michaels and Amazon sell artificial teal pumpkins and other teal pumpkin goodies. You can also create a fun art project for your kids (or yourself) by painting a pumpkin teal.
- Pack a Halloween Safety Kit: Every Halloween, we ensure we carry 2 EpiPens, hand wipes, a cellphone (in case of emergencies and of course, pictures), and our list of safe houses to visit.
Any other tips for an allergy-friendly Halloween? Share them in the comments below!