I know a lot of allergy-friendly moms are unsure about how to handle Halloween. Since my son was a baby, I have always done the same thing each year and found it's very successful. My daughter even enjoys it more than just trick-or-treating.

We have always taken our kids trick-or-treating for a few reasons. One- as a child, you NEED to do this! You cannot skip out on this once a year adventure to see how much candy you can get, how many houses you can reach and how long you can stay out late and not freeze to death. Two- I want my son to be able to understand how real-life works with food allergies. I have watched him go from a small toddler, taking anything to a boy who makes me laugh when he receives a treat and says "I can't have peanuts, do you have something without peanuts?" I want him to know that there is not always going to be an allergy-friendly alternative available to him at all times in all situations but to enjoy the rest of the situation without having that interfere with his good time. Three- I want my children to learn that although it's fun gathering gobs and gobs of candy, this is not always the best thing about Halloween. I want him to know that food is just a small part of life and it will be in a lot of aspects of his life but that giving away can be just as pleasing. And last, because I want to show both of my kids that what other kids do for certain things does not mean it has to be textbook exactly the same thing- it can be altered and it can still be fun, if not better.

So, what do we do? We trick-or-treat and gather our goodies. When we get home, we sift through the piles and remove whatever is not safe for my son. We bag it and he keeps his loot, which is actually pretty substantial most of the time. Then, my kids get their Trick-or-Treat bags from us. It's almost like an extra holiday for them since they consider it presents. I know this may seem like spoiling them but I always try to keep in a budget and get them fun things that can be used as well as some candies. What do we fill the bags with? Usually a card with a few dollars, Halloween socks from the dollar store, stickers, tattoos, creepy erasers, a book that they have wanted or cd/movie, silly string, glow sticks, homemade candies (on sticks, sunbutter & chocolate cups), coloring projects, craft things, a rolled up comic magazine, creepy eyeballs or whatever the dollar store has that looks squishy and bloody, toy cars or small figures of whatever they are currently collecting (BeyBlades, Squinkies), gum, mini cameras, tic-tacs, silly straws, fingerless gloves, fake hair pieces, baggies of pretzels or homemade rice krispy treats, bounce balls and, of course, allergy-friendly candies that are store-bought.

There are a few good companies that can help you out as far as safe treats for your children. Spangler (www.spanglercandy.com) has a wide range of candies that "does not contain peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, or gluten. It has been manufactured on dedicated equipment." This makes us FA moms very happy!
Premium Chocolatiers (http://www.premiumchocolatiers.com/) Their statement claims "Premium Chocolatiers supplies the finest gourmet truffles and chocolates to people with milk or nut sensitivities. Vegetarians, Lactose Intolerant, Food allergy sufferers, as well as Kosher Pareve consumers can now get quality milk like, though dairy free chocolates!" Yay! If you check out their website, the candies all look oh so awesome!
Shabtai Gourmet Gluten Free Bakery (www.shabtai-gourmet.com) has great baked items like brownies, ring dings and all of those packaged goodies that most allergic people can't have. They say their company is "Baking the finest Gluten Free Cakes & Cookies, that are also; dairy free, peanut free, soy free, lactose free, casein free, corn free, and Kosher." And I know that being a kid means you need to try one of these goodies!
Smarties Candies (www.smarties.com.)  says "our entire line of products are free from most of the known allergens except Bubble Gum Smarties® which contain soy lecithin. All products are free of milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts and wheat. Smarties® products are safe to eat for kids with peanut allergies." Awesome! And we love small packages for Halloween as well as something to slip into lunches.  

Our family enjoys Halloween just as much as families without food allergies. We pick our pumpkins, we go through corn mazes, we decorate our front porch with creepy things and we enjoy the holiday for what it is. It's a day of happiness and not a day of what we have to worry about in our foods. So hug your kids, get dressed and just be thankful for this time of year together.