Some Halloween ideas courtesy of FAST

October 23, 2006 at 11:28 am (Blog & Websites, social issues)

For those of us dealing with food allergies around Halloween, here’s a link with some good ideas.

Halloween may seem like a problem for parents who have allergic children. Should the child be excluded from activities due to his or her food restrictions? As you will see from the following article, moms have found ways to avoid allergens on Halloween.

Trick-or-Treating

Many parents have found that their child would prefer to have non-food items for Halloween. NLM advises that parents “drop off safe little toys (stickers, cars, and mylar balloons) with some neighbors beforehand.”
Kathy L. does something similar. “Each year we go to our neighbors, who know our son by now, and give them all ‘safe’ treats to give him. We tell them what he will be wearing and go with him to insure that they remember. They appreciate the extra goodies, and enjoy being able to help. Our son gets a load of goodies, and we have relatively few worries.”
 Jennifer has found that this works for even the children who do not have food allergies. Her family hands out non-food items to trick-or-treaters. “We have started passing out little toy items along with candy. We have a store in this area that specializes in these kinds of little cheap toys. Last year we passed out plastic flies, spider rings, and ghoulish stencils. I have always tried to get a variety of items trying to be safe and fun for different ages. Nothing with peanuts or hard candy for the little ones, so this is just an extension of this. (Obviously, the little goblins didn’t get the plastic flies or spider rings.)”
Some parents have found that they can trade non-safe items for safe ones. Says Kathy L., “with older children, work out a bartering system, where they trade their goodies towards something they REALLY want.” 
KSB does something similar. “We always let our son pick out candy to give out which is safe for him. He goes to only a few houses in the neighborhood and for those who don’t have a safe candy for him, he is able to trade with the candy we are giving out. Also our next door neighbor started something neat. She makes special goodie bags for the kids she knows. For our son and his sister she gets halloween pencils, erasers, toothbrushes, stickers and coloring books (all from the dollar store). A great treat and no candy to worry about. One neighbor last year gave our son two of the state quarters rather than candy. Then he could go to the store and get something safe.”
Keep in mind that a trade system is not acceptable for children who have contact allergies, can get sick from inhaling their allergens, or are known to “sneak” food. As Kathy mentioned, this should be left to older kids who are responsible and know that eating unsafe food can make them sick.

Parties and School

Would you like to try something at home this year? If so, it might help minimize the risk of an allergic reaction. Says Kathy L., “Have a party yourself. If going to another child’s party, feed your children before going (or before going door to door) to minimize the risk of ‘nibbling.'” Since some families don’t celebrate Halloween, having your own party can be a way to include more children. Try a harvest party and ask the children to dress up like scarecrows or cowboys and cowgirls. 
Need a party idea? NLM says “A cute idea for a party is to make a safe punch, say with sparkling cider, cranberry juice, club soda, cinnamon, cloves, and sugar syrup to taste. Then for the ice, fill rinsed surgical gloves (nonpowdered) with water and freeze on a cookie sheet. When frozen, peel off the gloves and float the ice hands in the punch.” Look for gloves that do not contain latex, in case your child or a friend of his/hers is allergic to it.  If school is a problem KSB recommends “making safe sugar cookies and using a pumpkin cookie cutter and orange food coloring.”
If you need ideas for games and parties, check out Zoom’s website at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/zoom/. This TV show often has activities that are safe for allergics, and some games that require peanuts contain alternate ideas for those who have peanut allergies! The site map at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/zoom/sitemap/ there makes finding what you want easier. Specifically you may want to look at the game ideas: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/zoom/games/.
A helpful book with party and game ideas is Giant Book of Puzzles and Games by Sheila Anne Barry. It contains activities for all ages, from one player up to many.
Have a fun, safe time!

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