Running from house to house, ringing doorbells lit by the flickering candelight of homemade Jack-o'-lanterns and experiencing all the happy haunts the neighborhood has to offer is half the fun of Halloween. Depleting the block of its candy stores is just an added bonus.
That's our take on it since our son has severe food allergies. Though we know we're not the only parents who squint and crinkle candy wrappers to make sure we haven't missed even the tiniest trace ingredient inside, tricking and treating can suddenly become a lot less fun when you know you can't savor the spoils afterward.
Cosmotot's Witchin' Halloween Guide explores the best in treats without tricks (aka: allergens) plus games with educational value to get a little more out of the Halloween experience than just a sugar high.
Thanks to Divvies, kids with food allergies (and even those without them), can feast on just as much sweet loot as every other princess, pirate, dragon, witch and fairy in the bunch. Their gourmet snacks are dairy free, peanut free, tree nut free, egg free and so yummy it's scary. Friendly-faced, semi-sweet dark chocolate ghosts (known as Boo!! x 2), Halloween jellybeans, gummy Super Stars, Speckled Jawbreakers, Rock Candy and more will be the talk of the treat bags, but doling them out might be wise, since gourmet this good doesn't come cheap.
If your child's school allows edible eats to be handed out on Halloween, Enjoy Life Foods has a decent line up of allergy-friendly, gluten- and casein-free foods, though we (husband, kidlets and me) only liked their Snickerdoodles. Modeled on the original cookie classic, they're topped with cinnamon sugar, are soft and chewy, and best of all, don't contain artificial anything.
There's much more to All Hallow's Eve than just edible goodies, too. Playing games are a great way to get even the youngest kids into the spooky spirit of things, and award-winning Wee Sing is the place to start. Their materials have an educational focus, are packed with action songs, singalongs, fingerplays, circle games and poems. The Halloween compliation shares all the fun without being scary, and simple recipes are included as an extra treat.
Toddlers can get into imaginative play with the Little People Trick-or-Treat Surprise play set from Fisher-Price, particularly since it includes their faves - lights, sounds, and friendly faces. Ring the doorbell and a light turns on inside the house. Move the bat to hear music and move a pop-up ghost. Three costumed figures and a chunky trike add to the fun, as does the the house's double-sided play area that folds easily when it's time for guys and ghouls to go to bed.
Older kids can join Scooby Doo and his friends on a mystery reading adventure with the VTech Bugsby Reading System. An interactive, bookworm-shaped pen lets kids hear the story read aloud or guides them in honing their sleuthing skills with activities in reading comprehension, phonics, sentence structure, word recognition and more. Better yet, all Bugsby books include a software cartridge, which means no downloading required.
Cosmotot does not accept pay for play. However, I do have a working relationship with VTech and am their official social media brand representative. Though this is not a paid placement, I do receive compensation for my VTech role.
Maria Pilar Clark is a mom times two and Windy City-based writer.
See more of Pilar's stories here.