Halloween is only 11 days away; are you ready for the upcoming class parties, parades and endless string of trick or treaters? I’m not either, so now is the perfect time to get the game plan in place, especially for your food allergic child, classmate or neighbor. Most of us know at least one child or adult with a food allergy. Halloween is an excellent time to raise food allergy awareness. Many elementary classes will have a treat filled party and costume parade. Kids will be buzzing doorbells left and right looking for their favorite pieces of candy, maybe even eating some along the way. And even the tween and teen crowds like to get in on the fun through parties and get togethers on their own. Halloween is fun for all these kids and grownups alike, and it doesn’t have to become a nightmare as long as we all remember to keep it safe for everyone.
Over the years I have learned a few tricks on Halloween night and during class parties. Here are a few to get you started.
TOP 5 TIPS FOR TRICK OR TREATING:
1. Pass out non food items, such as stickers, small trinkets, quarters, pencils. It never ceases to amaze me how much my kids love “treasure box” type items.
2. Make even trades for all the candy your child can’t have with candy they can have. In my case, John is allergic to dairy and nuts so that pretty much leaves us with starburst (only certain varieties), dum dum lollipops, the original skittles and smarties.
3. Trade out the entire bag of candy for a Target gift card. This is by far John’s favorite item. Nothing says magic like a Target gift card.
4. Don’t throw out all that candy! Many schools already have programs in place to collect extra candy to donate to nursing homes, women’s shelters, etc. It is a wonderful way to teach your children to give back to others.
5. My favorite trick for Halloween night? FAAN’s Trick or Treat Box. Click on their website in my useful links. Register online and they will send you a free box to collect money for FAAN’s food allergy education and research programs. Last year the trick or treat box program raised more than $25,000. It’s a wonderful way to give back to an organization that has given so much to all of us.
TOP 5 TREATS FOR YOUR HALLOWEEN CLASS PARTIES:
1. Fruit Kabobs: Kids of all ages love food on a stick. Fruit Kabobs are a healthy alternative to other sweets. Alternate pieces of fresh pineapple, strawberry, melon and apple. Or better yet, make it as part of your child’s class activity.
2. Scary Veggie Platter: I will admit, my kids are scared of veggies. But they will dig into veggies that are cut into whimicial shapes and sizes. Get your smallest Halloween cookie cutters, and cut flat sliced pieces of red and yellow pepper, cucumber slices or allergen free bread. Bundle up and tie matchstick sized carrots and celery with a string of chives. The more interesting concoction, the more likely they’ll try it.
3. Root Vegetable Chips: Who doesn’t love chips at a party? A colorful array of beet, parsnip, carrots and sweet potato chips will intrigue your little one. It’s easy: slice them thinly by hand or in your food processor and. Heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees and fry in small batches until crisp, just a few minutes. Drain in paper towels, season to taste.
4. Popcorn Balls: Maybe it is just me, but for some reason I always think of making yummy popcorn balls on Halloween. I remember loving them as a kid, and they are easily portable for parties. Kids love them too, because they are fun to eat! Pop 3 quarts popcorn (I always make my own as the store bought versions often have butter in them) and keep warm in a 200 degree oven; oil a large fork and spoon on hand. Combine 2 c. light corn syrup, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1 T. Cider Vinegar in a medium pot. Heat over medium high until the syrup reaches a hard ball consistency. Remove and add 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Pour over the popcorn carefully and stir with the oiled fork and spoon. Once combinedand cooled shape into 2 inch balls and cool on waxed paper. Wrap in festive tissue, saran wrap with a bow, or set out in a fun holiday bowl.
1. My favorite tip for a class party is NO FOOD! Trust me, they will get more than their fair share during trick or treat time. Make the class party about projects, games, and handing out little gift baggies of trinkets, stickers, spider rings, skull bones, etc.
I’d love to hear if you have any other fun ideas. Enjoy!