If you have a kid with allergies, Halloween can be a time that’s scary in all the wrong ways.
If I had had my way we Just Wouldn’t Do It. But for the kids it’s up there with Christmas and Birthdays, so it’s one of those moments when we decide not to let allergies get in the way of normal life.
For some reason they really love mobbing the neighbours’ houses for sweets with their pals dressed like an army of lawless zombies…
So we do Halloween, and we do it properly. But clearly, the risk of something going wrong – as the heady hit of sugar takes hold when it’s too dark to read labels properly – is real.
So we have A System, much of which was inspired by Archie’s Allergies’ lovely reminders.
Here’s what we do (and please let me know on Twitter or in the comments section if you have other ideas):
- In the day or two before, we’ll send a reminder to our neighbours that some local kids have allergies, and to ask them please not to include whole nuts in the treat baskets. One year a family had filled their bowl with a combination of sweets and… actual peanuts. I think they were trying to offer a healthy alternative, and bravo to them for trying, but… no thanks – that’s taking ‘fright night’ a little too far.
- Having the right stuff with us. For us that’s: two epipens, antihistamine, gloves, handwipes, a fully charged mobile phone, and a bag of safe sweets from home.
- A ratio of one adult per kid. I think this one depends on the age of your kids and the nature of Trick of Treating in your area. But our kids are still little and things can get quite ‘spirited’ as the sugar rush takes hold on a mob of literally hundreds of four foot ghosts and zombies…
- One designated adult on the ‘allergy kid’ who is also carrying safe sweets from home and the epipens. We let my son go to the door with his friends to choose whatever sweet he wants and then he gives it to us to look after. The unfamiliar treat goes into the designated adult’s pocket while a sweet from the ‘safe bag’ is given to him to chomp as he goes around. That way he doesn’t miss out.
- As it’s really busy where we are, we stick him in a brightly coloured costume (also glow sticks are on my list for next year!) to help us spot our little monster should he stray a little into the night. When there are hundreds of kids mostly dressed in black it’s handy to have an identifying feature!
- When we get home, we sort through the safe and unsafe sweets and toss the unsafe ones back into our own Trick or Treat basket to offer to other neighbours’ kids as they come around.
And then…breathe. Just 364 days until it all happens again. And now the cat can come out of hiding…