Halloween with Allergies: an Australian Trick or Treat?
While Australia doesn't celebrate or share the popularity of Halloween like in the US, Halloween is slowly being adopted in Australia to become an event of dress-ups and themed parties for many Australians each October.
This is especially prevalent with Children, as Trick-or-Treating has become an entertaining activity for them to do at school and/or to share with their friends and family.
However, when children have allergies, Halloween isn't just a day of spooks, frights and sweet treats. Whether it is to dress up, join a themed party, have Halloween-themed foods or join in other Halloween-themed activities, late October is of a time that brings many genuine risks for children with allergies. And a period of concern for their parents.
So if you're reading this and have a child (or children) with allergies, and you're unsure on how to approach Halloween, here are some tips (and tricks) for children celebrating Halloween with allergies:
1: Prepare a stockpile of safe allergy-friendly treats in a small pouch with a mix of food and non-food treats (read further down for examples).
- Have the pouch of safe treats close to you (if you're with them) to use when they need it.
- If they're alone, get them to carry a backpack or shoulder bag of and place the pouch of safe treats in it.
- If they're at school, a party or any other Halloween event, hand over the pouch of safe treats to a responsible adult to use as required.
2: Explain and share news of your child's allergies to neighbours, local Facebook groups (if there is a post about Halloween Trick or Treating), event organisers, friends and families.
Use your child's My Allergy Card (URL ID), a physical allergy card or a letter to inform others. Provide your contact details (privately) to have a chat with them if they have any specific questions. Offer to provide a list of safe allergy-friendly treats, especially non-food treats.
Some examples of non-food treats:
- A Sticker
- A Colour Pencil
- Slap band
- A Glow in the dark stick
- Plastic jewellery
- Small Toy
Note: These are just some examples. You may need to improvise for other non-food treats based on your child's allergies. If you're stuck for ideas, reach out to us.
3: When Trick or Treating:
- Have a conversation with your neighbours from each house to ask to leave your child non-food treats. Leave them with a letter or print your child's My Allergy Card (URL ID).
- If your child has food allergies, and you're concerned about allergic reactions due to food, have a rule with your child to not eat during Trick or Treating.
- If your child has food allergies or environmental allergies, dress them in a super cool costume with gloves, such as a Princess, Spider-Man, Hulk or a Skeleton. This reduces the ability to open treats and prevents them from touching treats or surfaces with their allergen. Then add a mask with a medical mask underneath the costume if you need to tackle those airborne allergens.
- Allergy Switch Witch- If you're with them and they are given any 'dangerous' treats, swap them out for your safe treats; this move is an adaptation of "Switch Witch". The Allergy Switch Witch switches the treats for allergy-friendly or non-food treats. (Give the collected allergen-containing sweets to someone else or hide them away from reach).
- Be ready when Trick or Treating with your child. Carry all their emergency medication, a fully charged phone, and wet wipes and take your My Allergy Card or allergy card to present at each house.
- If your child is Halloweening alone, make sure they also carry all their emergency medication, a fully charged phone, and wet wipes and take their My Allergy Card or allergy card to present at each house. As an added precaution, turn on "Family Sharing" on their smartphone so you can check in on their location.
4: Take control of Halloween and host an "allergy-friendly" Halloween party with friends or family.
If there are other children with allergies, invite them and their parents too so you can all team up to set up the ultimate, super-duper, allergy-friendly Halloween for them!
Get an allergy-friendly treat box, prepare allergy-friendly food, have non-food treats and listen to some Halloween music for scary dancing ("Spooky, Scary Skeletons" by KIDZ BOP is always a favourite!).
For extra delight, watch a Halloween movie that children and parents love. Hotel Transylvania (PG), Monsters, Inc. (G), The Nightmare Before Christmas (G), The Dog Who Saved Halloween (PG), Coco (PG), and Spooky Buddies (PG) are some great flicks you can enjoy!
*Please search the movies content for your own approval before you let the children watch them.
5: Have Safety Checks throughout the day, such as:
- Check face paints do not have allergens contained in them.
- Always wash their and your hands with soap before eating. If sharing food, ask the others to wash their hands too.
- If your child has food allergies, don't eat anything that does not have an ingredient label on the treat.
- Triple-check treats and ingredients.
- Always have emergency medication and a phone to call an ambulance on you or your child.
- If they or you have latex allergies, check balloons, costumes, masks and non-food toys such as whoopee cushions.
- If they or you have pet allergies, check that the homes being visited don't have pets that can cause allergies. If meeting people with pets, ask them to use a pet-hair roller before making contact.
- If they or you have dust mite and pollen allergies, wash the costumes thoroughly before wearing them, check pollen counts, and wear a medical mask (this can either be part of the costume or underneath).
- Have a specific question? Reach out.
6. And if you don't have allergies but would like to be a Hallo-pallergy and look after someone that does on Halloween:
- Ask every child and adult if they have any allergies.
- Be specific and ask them if there is anything they cannot eat before providing food.
- Have non-food treats available.
- Have treats individually wrapped and keep the packages with ingredient labels.
- Have some non-contact tricks planned (tell a joke, do a magic trick, crack a spooky laugh, hide some skeletons in your front yard, etc.)!
Whatever the plans, there's always a way for your child to be part of Halloween with their allergies. Halloween is no different from any other celebration, where preparation and precautions can lead to an enjoyable time for you and your child.
We hope you and they have a safe, spooky and great time this Halloween!
The information provided on Allergy Life Australia is to generally educate and inform you about living with allergies, intolerances and conditions, and is not intended as medical instruction or as a substitute for diagnosis, examination and advice by a qualified health care provider.