I have a love-hate relationship with Halloween.
I love dressing up in costumes and have so many happy memories from my childhood, but as a parent of a child with multiple food allergies, I hate the fact that it seems to be all about food.
My eldest son has severe allergies to dairy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts with an intolerance to gluten, which means he can't eat the vast majority of candy distributed during Halloween.
So what's an allergy-mama to do?
Some families living with food allergies choose not to participate in Halloween at all, which makes sense, but is NOT something I want to do. Others have come up with clever ways to avoid allergens, like distributing safe candies to their neighbours in advance, so that their children will receive safe treats.
Some use the Switch Witch to trade candies containing allergens for money or safe treats. The Teal Pumpkin Project helps make Halloween easier for kids with food allergies, as you can choose to knock on doors where a teal pumpkin is displayed, because these are households that have chosen to distribute non-food alternatives.
This year, I've decided to try a new tradition in our home. The "real" Halloween party begins after my son gets home from trick-or-treating. I'm planning to have non-food related Halloween activities for the entire family to participate in.
Below are five non-food related activities that will help get children of all ages in the spirit of Halloween.
I wish you and your family a safe and happy Halloween!
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This game requires four or more players. Create teams of two or more and give each team a roll of toilet paper, white crepe paper or fabric. Use Halloween music to time the activity. Once the music starts, one team member must wrap the other from head to toe (leaving the head free and not binding the arms to the body) to look like a mummy. Once completely wrapped, the "mummy" must run to cross the defined finish line before the others. If you don't have enough people to make teams, you can have your child wrap a doll like a mummy.
Hands On As We Grow
This creative idea from Hands On As We Grow
takes a little bit of advance preparation. Create a spiderweb in a doorway out of painters tape and have kids throw newspaper balls at the sticky web. A modification that I would make is to create a bulls eye or a point system on the spiderweb, and the person with most points wins the game.
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This game is similar to musical chairs or hot potato, but involves passing small pumpkins or gourds.
Seat participants in a circle then hand a pumpkin to all but one person in the group. When the music starts, people pass the pumpkins around the circle like a moving train. Once the music stops, the person without a pumpkin is out of the game. Remove a pumpkin from the group and restart the music. Continue until you have one pumpkin left with one winner.
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Play a ghoulish game of Twister. If you already own the Twister game, you can easily alter the board by taping Halloween pictures on the circles. If you don't own Twister, you can create a Twister board on by sticking different colored paper plates decorated with Halloween icons on the floor.
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I love scavenger hunts, because you can vary the complexity of the clues depending on the age of the participants. In my case, my kids are between the ages of 2 and 4, so I will use simple pictures of Halloween objects like spiders and witches as clues, and hide printouts of the same pictures around the house. For older kids, clues can be more complex riddles. You can also do a neighborhood scavenger hunt and take a walk to look for Halloween decorations like witches, black cats, spiders and ghosts.