Preparing For Halloween — 2 Ways For Food Allergy Families To Lead By Example

It’s almost that time of year again, Costco is putting out Christmas decorations which means Halloween is almost here and food allergy parents everywhere are rolling up their sleeves…

If your neighbors are anything like mine, they would likely be thrilled to know what kinds of treats would be safe to hand out to the neighbor kids with food allergies or sensitivities on Halloween night. But if they don’t know, they can’t help; and if they are not familiar enough with food allergies, they also don’t know to ask. As food allergy parents it’s our job to lead the way, whether we like it or not.

Here are two simple things we can do to help our neighbors, help us this year:

  1. Let them know in advance: The change in season is a perfect excuse to wish your neighbors a “Happy Fall” with a homemade card or note (bonus points for enlisting your kiddos to help write, decorate, and deliver). It also just so happens to be around this time that many pick up a bag of candy the next time they’re at the store for trick-or-treaters. Inside the card, write a note to politely let your neighbors know which edible treats (be brand-specific if necessary) would be safe for your trick-or-treater this year, in case they are planning to hand out candy. You could even add that if possible, non-edible items (pencils, stickers, bouncy balls) would be just as welcome.
  2. Help prompt the question: We will be hanging a spooky-looking sign right by our doorbell that says “BEWARE: Allergy-friendly treats here only!” Sure, this will give any food allergy families that trick-or-treat at our house some assurance but perhaps more importantly, it will bring the topic to the forefront and beg the question in turn to your neighbors if their treats are also allergy-friendly.

It Takes A Village

If you are not impacted by food allergies I’d say you could completely ignore this post except you already know that’s not what I’m going to recommend. We can all play a role to help spread awareness and lighten the load for food allergy parents.

Job #1: If you know of any families in your neighborhood who are impacted by food allergies or sensitivities, reach out to them first and ask what kinds of treats would be safe. I promise you, this tiny act would mean SO much to a food allergy parent!

Job #2 if you can’t do Job #1: Ask anyways! 1 in 13 children in the U.S. have food allergies today. Chances are at least one of them lives in your neighborhood. If anything, it’s a great conversation starter to get to know your neighbors better!

For the newly diagnosed food allergy parents out there — my number one tip, is familiarize yourself with the most popular candies before the big day. Make a “Safe” and an “Off Limits” list of the most popular items (3 Musketeers, Snickers, etc.) that you can expect to receive. You will be thankful that you did the upfront work so that in the heat of the moment, you’re not trying to read tiny labels or look allergens up on your phone when all you really want is to finish sorting out the dang treats and let your overtired children pick their one treat to enjoy before bed.

Katie was born and raised in the small town of Milton, Wis. She studied abroad in Normandy, France, and taught English as a foreign language in Mexico City, prior to moving back to her home state, where she graduated from UW-Milwaukee. Katie and her husband currently live in Middleton with their two sons Felix (2013) and Gabe (2015). She's a sucker for a good novel, and is currently re-learning how to play the piano. She's taken up snowboarding this winter with her boys and is proud to say that so far, she has not broken any bones.


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