Even if your child is on a gluten-free diet, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Halloween and not feel like you are missing out! To help you, our Celiac Disease Program has put together a list of ways to enjoy a gluten-free Halloween.
Gluten-free candy list
The Celiac Disease Foundation posts a list of gluten-free Halloween candy every year. Please remember to use this as a guide — it’s always important to read the label as ingredients and formulas can change at any time. Some specialty candies produced for holidays have different recipes, for example Reese’s pumpkins may be different than traditional Reese’s peanut butter cups.
When in doubt – throw it out!
Gluten-free costume paint
Did you know that face paints can contain gluten and other allergens? If your child’s costume includes face paint, make sure to check ingredients before applying. You can find specialty companies like Kiss Freely who have costume paints that are allergen and gluten free.
Teal Pumpkin Project
FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project is a simple way to make Halloween safer and more inclusive for children with food allergies. By placing a teal pumpkin on your doorstep or next to your front door, you are letting trick-or-treaters know that you have non-food items or treats that are safe for everyone. You can also go to the FARE web site to add your house to a neighborhood map or to find houses in your neighborhood participating in the project.
Non-candy treat ideas
Instead of giving out candy, there are lots of fun non-food treats that children will be excited to get. These include:
- Glow sticks or glow necklaces
- Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
- Mini Slinkies
- Whistles, kazoos or noisemakers
- Bouncy balls
- Spider rings
- Vampire fangs
- Mini notepads
- Playing cards
Make plans for food safety
Some ideas for food safety tips while trick-or-treating include:
- Make a rule with your child before you go trick-or-treating to not eat any treats along the way. Instead, bring some treats from home that are safe for your child to eat so they don’t feel left out.
- Bring handwipes with you to avoid cross contamination from reaching into bowls, friends’ bags/buckets, etc.
- Avoid any open wrappers while out.
- Make sure to check all labels when you get home. We suggest sorting candy into a “safe” and “unsafe” pile as soon as you get home.
Ideas for new Halloween traditions
- Introduce the “Switch Witch” into your Halloween traditions. She comes and exchanges unsafe candy for other non-food or gluten-free treats. You can make your own Switch Witch or purchase one.
- Stay home as a family and watch a fun movie and do a Halloween craft.
- Find safe venues to celebrate Halloween – throw a Halloween party with safe treats and invite friends or check out local celiac groups or schools who might be hosting parties focused on games and fun instead of food.
What to do with unsafe candy
If your child gets candy that’s not gluten-free, don’t throw it out. Instead, you can:
- Give it to other trick-or-treaters.
- Bring it to work and leave it out for co-workers.
- Donate it to a good cause, such as:
- Ronald McDonald House – most accept unopened candy, contact a location near you to make sure they are currently accepting candy donations.
- Operation Gratitude – sends care packages to US troops stationed overseas. They have a Halloween candy give back program that all 50 states and Washington, D.C., participate in.
- Halloween Candy Buy Back – bring your candy to a participating dentist and they will give you non-food treats in return for bringing in your candy.
And, most importantly – have fun!