Halloween can be one of the most challenging holidays for those children with food allergies. It’s not just that a big part of the Halloween celebration includes candy, it’s that the candy given out at Halloween often times has different ingredients than what we buy throughout the rest of the year. For example, a regular size Hershey milk chocolate bar that we buy for making s’mores (think summer camp outs) is fine, but the miniature Hershey milk chocolate bars in stores around Halloween contain traces of nuts. For those of us veteran parents, this probably seems so obvious that it’s silly. But I remember my first couple of Halloweens after my daughter was diagnosed food allergies; I was a mess! It seemed easier just to leave the country than to subject my child to so much stuff that she couldn’t have.
At first, I put together a Halloween goodie bag filled with safe candy, Halloween stickers, festive coloring books, crayons and other fun little things. As my daughter got a bit older (and I got a bit wiser), we just exchanged the off-limits candy with safe treats at the end of the night. My non food allergic children still enjoy this ritual because they get to trade in some of the “boring stuff” for M & M’s, Milky Ways and other candy that we just don’t get during the rest of the year.
What we’ve started doing recently is when my children are done trick or treating and are satisfied with their trades, we give the rest of the candy out to those kids still trick or treating. It’s usually a bit later in the evening so the preteen crowd is out and about. They act like they’ve hit the jackpot when we give out handfuls of Snickers bars and Reese’s. Everybody wins.
And truth be told, my daughters with food allergies don’t really care that much about the candy anyways. They are in it for the costumes and the fun.