Halloween has all the trappings of a good time for kids––silly or scary costumes, staying up past bedtime, and serious sugar intake. But for allergen-free households, Halloween isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Children who have food allergies are often unable to enjoy most of the candies passed out at Halloween, which can leave them feeling left out.
But if you’ve been living with allergies for a while, you know it’s all about reframing the conversation: It’s not about what you can’t have, but celebrating what you can enjoy. These are some easy ways to make Halloween a sweet celebration for everyone.
#1: Paint the town teal
Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project. Paint a pumpkin teal and put it in front of your house––this indicates that you have non-food treats to hand out. Print out flyers and hand them out around the neighborhood to encourage other families to join in. There are plenty of great ideasfor treats to hand out, from bubbles to glow sticks.
#2: It’s your party
Host a candy-free Halloween party with healthy snacks! Go all out––have a costume contest, bob for apples, and set up a pumpkin carving station. You can make allergen-free Halloween treats and play spooky music. Buy some dry ice to make “fog.” Taking this approach allows you to control the festivities but still have a ton of fun.
#3: Turn the tables
Rather than going out trick-or-treating this year, have your little ones hand out treats in their costumes. Let the kids decorate the house to be extra spooky. Put on kid-friendly Halloween movies for them to watch while waiting for the trick-or-treaters, and answer the door together. This simple role reversal not only keeps kids safe from allergens but demonstrates that giving can be just as fun as receiving.
#4: Candy as currency
If your kids have non life-threatening allergies or allergies limited to one or two things, the best tactic might be to just let them go trick-or-treating, but have a strategy for sifting through the sugar afterwards. Let them trade you their candy in exchange for a trip to the toy store or a few cents for their piggy bank. You can even send candy to the troops.
#5: Start a new tradition
Own your Halloween! Instead of going out trick-or-treating, go out to dinner at your kids’ favorite restaurant or cook your family’s favorite healthy meal. Watch a Halloween movie. Bake gluten-free cookies together. Have a Halloween scavenger hunt. If you start a new tradition when your kids are young, they’ll look forward to your special Halloween activities without thinking twice about missing out on the door-to-door knocking.
No need to let candy allergens scare you this year! With the proper planning, Halloween can be just as safe, spooky and fun for everyone.
Megan’s abiding passion is culinary arts. Her career in food began on a small farm, transitioned to extensive food and cooking research, and finally led her to working for the iconic cookbook, the Joy of Cooking and with natural food brands across the country in her role at HEART: Creative Culinary Agency.