Monday, October 17, 2011

Ten Allergy-Safe Ways to Celebrate Halloween

by Kelley Lindberg

First, a quick “candy corn update”: is now selling A and J Bakery Candy Corn that is nut-free, peanut-free, and gluten-free, but it still contains soy, egg, and corn. (For those of you who hate candy corn, I apologize for the updates – but it’s a hot topic every year!)

Meanwhile…Halloween is about more than candy corn (yes, it’s true!). It’s also about parties and trick-or-treating, both of which can add stress to an already-stressed parent of allergic kids. So it’s time to post some suggestions for ways to help take the “scary” out of Halloween.

Especially for parents of newly diagnosed kids, this holiday brings up a lot of questions. Should we let them go trick-or-treating? Should we have a party instead? Should we stay home, lock the doors, and turn out the lights? What about that giant bag of unsafe candy?!!

In our family, we’ve discovered that the candy is really the least important part of the holiday. The adventure is the best part. Candy seems like the goal (“I’m going to fill this WHOLE bucket!”), but it’s really just the excuse for dressing up, running around the neighborhood in the dark squealing with flashlights, and getting together with friends.

Focus on the adventure, and create your Halloween traditions around the parts of the holiday your kids love best. Here are ten ideas for a fun Halloween:

1. Go trick-or-treating. If they want to trick-or-treat, don’t be afraid of it. There are plenty of things you can do with unsafe candy afterwards, and if the kids know about the rules ahead of time, it will be surprisingly easy to keep them safe while doing it. (I’ll post my tips for safe trick-or-treating next week. I promise you can do this if your kids have their hearts set on it!)

2. Have a party at your house – that way you can control the food that comes in and out of your door. Kids can wear costumes, decorate mini pumpkins, play games, or watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” (Okay, it’s probably too tame for kids these days, but it was always MY favorite.) If you go to a party at someone else’s house, call them ahead of time to offer your help planning the menu, bringing safe treats, etc.

3. Visit a haunted house or Lagoon’s Frightmares (which has attractions for tiny tots as well as older kids and teens).

4. Get lost in a corn maze. Many of them have additional attractions, like small rides, hayrides, or pumpkin patches.

5. Rent The Nightmare Before Christmas and snuggle up together in the dark with your favorite safe popcorn or candy. Wear your costumes, or indulge in some Halloween pajamas for the whole family!

6. Catch a movie at the theater (the kids can dress up!).

7. If your kids are a little older, reserve tickets for a “ghost tour” of your local city. In Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah, you can find these tours offered by storytellers through Ogden & Salt Lake City Ghost Tours. (Just be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time.) The tours run from Oct 20 – Oct 31, 2011.

8. Stage a “Zombies vs Aliens” soccer game or Frisbee match – invite all their friends to join. It could be even more fun after dark with glowstick-bracelets (available at most dollar stores)! (Or it could be “Zombies vs. Humans,” “Princesses vs Superheros” or any other combination your kids like.)

9. Attend the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center in West Valley City. It’s not to be confused with Halloween at all, but this Mexican celebration honors and remembers loved ones who have passed. The Cultural Center is hosting this annual family-oriented community gathering featuring altar displays, folk art exhibit, and more. You don’t have to be Catholic or of Mexican descent to attend – what a great way to expand your kids’ horizons and bring new meaning to “remembering our lost ones.” (Note that skulls made of sugar and bread shaped like human bodies or bones is a traditional part of Día de los Muertos, so be aware that there will be allergens present.) The celebration istelf will be on Nov. 2, 2011, from 6pm - 9pm, but he altars will be on display from Oct 17 - Nov 3.

10. And finally, don’t forget UFAN’s FOOD-FREE Halloween Trunk-or-Treat on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011, at the Intermountain Medical Center (southwest parking lot), 5121 Cottonwood St., Murray, UT. Decorate the trunk of your car, and bring plenty of non-edible goodies (small toys and novelties – no candy or food!) to pass out. There will be decorated trunk prizes and festive music, so don’t miss it! See UFAN’s website,, for more info. This year’s Trunk-or-Treat is presented by UFAN, the Utah Eosinophilic Disorders Support Group, and the Intermountain PKU and Allied Disorders Association.

There’s plenty to do this Halloween where you can control the food your child comes into contact with. So have fun, and don't get spooked by Halloween!


Eileen Barron said...

Thank you for these great ideas! I especially appreciate the suggestion to celebrate the Day of the Dead, which is a great way to build multi-cultural understanding and make this season more meaningful in terms of remembering loved ones who have passed away.

Alex Smith said...

Great Info!!
For more allergy related tips visit