Halloween Happiness – Halloween Hell
It’s that time of year again. In some ways it’s one of your favorite and most nostalgic times, and in others it represents a real headache for moms who don’t want their gluten-intolerant children to feel left out of the celebration. So what strategies can you use to get through this time happily, so the Halloween doesn’t turn into hell?
The worst thing about Halloween is the emphasis on candy. Trick or Treat has become to equivalent of collecting latest game cards – it’s all about who has the most! Personally, I find the tradition has become rather too much these days, and the competitive element has rather spoiled the fun.
Most children who have grown up with a diagnosis of gluten-intolerance are really good about the restrictions placed on them, and I find that incredibly sweet. Whilst they have to realize this is part of their lives, there’s no reason you can’t make them feel special in a different way. Candy isn’t the best thing about Halloween – it can’t be, since when I was a child I had huge fun and candy barely featured! If your child is determined to go Trick or Treating arrange with other parents beforehand that you will limit it to a certain number of houses. If you announce this to your friends’ children as just what is GOING TO HAPPEN then will accept it with no problem. “We’re only visiting ten houses tonight, because we have to get back in time for the ggggghost story…” seemed perfectly sufficient last year. The kids were so expectant about the events back at the house that when it was time to go back they ran!
If your child does come home from a friend’s party laden down with sweets, make sure you have some delicious substitutes at home to swap them for.
Change The Focus
With my celiac child’s Halloween celebrations I try to move the focus away from candy and things that can make them feel like they’re losing out. Instead I try to make them feel like they do lots of other things that their non-celiac friends don’t! You could try doing the same thing, by investing more time in the activities the children do than the food they eat. There are so many ways to distract your child from potentially gluten-laden food too. Firstly, make sure they have had a good healthy gluten-free supper before other children arrive.
Try to plan quite a few games for your party guests. I find that apple-bobbing is one game that everyone enjoys, and the reward is very healthy! Ghost stories, hide and seek, face-painting and a costume competition are also another good way of keeping little ones occupied. And if the prize for the best costume is announced on the invitation (something not too expensive but very cool) the kids will really enter into the spirit of things. Make sure you have plenty of consolation prizes for those that don’t make the grade however. Tears are not welcome on Halloween Night!
Inevitably you will have to provide food, and lots of it! Having the party at your house is one way to ensure that food is safe for your child. If you can’t manage it then try to send your child to a party with some really special gluten-free food. Always keep something back as a treat, is my motto. Check to see if there is some new delicious candy or cake that they might not have seen before, or make your own Halloween biscuits. You could even drop the food off to whoever is running the party in advance if you have the energy, so they can have a special plate ready!
I like to prepare something hot and filling for party guests – more Bonfire Night type food than specifically ‘Halloween’. There are no rules with Halloween, which is what is so good about it. If you can light a fire outside and serve baked potatoes in foil and gluten-free sausages the children won’t be thinking ‘This isn’t very traditional!’ They’ll just be excited! Nothing like fresh Fall air and a bonfire to pep you up!
It is more than possible to have a Happy gluten-free Halloween party, without tears and tantrums. It might take a bit more planning, but you can be sure your child will feel extra special when they hear and see how much fun their friends are having. It’s a way of showing them that the show must go on, and that there are always ways round life’s obstacles.
Happy Gluten-free Halloween!
Dee Mason is a travel writer and self-confessed foodie. She recently moved to London and writes on behalf of a few different people, including a berkline recliner specialist.