These tips for an allergen-friendly Halloween are great for everyone, regardless of whether you have any allergies in your family.
1. Avoid the 8 Main Allergens: Milk, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, eggs, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Did you know that there are eight main allergens? While we doubt that anyone is spending their Halloween stocking up on shrimp or mackerel for Halloween (unless you’re really into tricks), most Halloween candies contain at least one of the top eight allergens. Here’s a helpful guide to get you started with ideas for some gluten-free candies.
2. Give Out Non-Food Items: Toys, pencils, notepads, sticky hands, creepy spider rings, glow in the dark necklaces, skickers, fake tattoos… the possibilities are endless! If you choose to go food-free for Halloween trick-or-treating, there are nearly endless fun options for non-food toys to keep kids smiling. Here’s a great list of ideas to inspire you.
3. Put a Teal Pumpkin on Your Porch: Not sure how to advertise your allergen-friendly Halloween treats? The Teal Pumpkin Project provides a great way for homes to advertise that they’re inclusive of children with allergies. Simply paint a pumpkin teal and set it on your porch, or hang a photo of a teal pumpkin on your door. The Teal Pumpkin Project’s website also has a great FAQ for anyone with questions about having an allergen-safe Halloween.
4. Have a Special Non-Food Basket of Treats: Just can’t bear to give up your traditional Halloween favorites? Your home’s entire Halloween offering doesn’t have to be allergen-free to be inclusive. Have a food trick-or-treat basket and a separate non-food basket so that kids with allergies (or kids who simply prefer toys over candy) still get to walk away with something fun.
5. Inform Your Kids: Take the time to educate the kids in your life about allergens. Children often share or trade candy on Halloween, so teaching any children in your life how to read food labels and reminding them to ask friends about allergies when trading candies are both great lines of defense against any candy-related Halloween mishaps. Of course it’s always great to look over their loot yourself once they’re finished, but it’s rewarding for everyone to empower kids to watch out for allergens on their own.
6. Talk to Your Community: Do what you can to be an allergy ally! Talk to your community to find out which kids in your neighborhood have allergies and what they’re allergic to. If your children have allergies, connect with your neighbors and educate them on safe food or non-food options. Perhaps host a safe Halloween “candy trade-in” so that kids with allergies can come trade the candies they can’t eat for non-food items or for foods they can eat.
7. Trade Out and Donate Any Leftover Candies: Donate any candies that a child can’t eat to your local food pantry, school, or community center. Be sure to have non-food treats on hand to swap out for the child, or make a special allergen-free treat that the child can safely eat to go home with instead of candy (check out #10 for some great recipe ideas!)
8. Always Ask First: When a group of trick-or-treaters come to your door, be sure to ask if anyone has any allergies before handing out candies. It serves and a gentle reminder for the group to be aware, and it allows you an extra layer of control in case a child doesn’t realize that a candy you’re handing out contains a potential allergen. Just be sure to have alternatives so that everyone gets to walk away with something!
9. There Are More Than Eight Allergens: Don’t be misled by candies labeled “allergen free” or “Halloween safe.” While a food or candy can absolutely be free from the most common allergens, no candy or food can be completely free of all allergens! Kids (and adults) can be allergic to anything, so before handing out any food it’s always best to ask.
10. Try Out a New Recipe: Having fun snacks available for kids to eat once they finish Trick-or-Treating is a great way to enhance their Halloween and make sure that safe treats are available! Try one of these recipes from our friends at Stasher: Halloween Batty Brownie Blissballs or these adorable pumpkins, ghosts, and mummies made entirely from fruit.
Have any other fun tips or allergen-friendly recipes to share? Let us know in the comments!