Trick or Treating brings on all new challenges after having a kid diagnosed with Celiac Disease or who needs to be gluten free for other reasons. But it doesn’t have to be boring, frustrating, or depressing! Please find a way to have some fun with this and reframe it in a way that your kids will remember as a fun holiday tradition in your home.
Celiac or gluten free kids can still Trick or Treat and get all candy without looking at the ingredients. Make sure to go over the ingredient lists and verify the safety of the candy before allowing them to consume it. There are fun and interesting ways to exchange candy without depriving children.
Remember to involve kids in every stage of their gluten free journey and help them to learn why they need to do different things. Go over ingredients together and look at a list of safe candy, such as this one from The Celiac Disease Foundation, which you can find here.
If you want more ideas on how to help your gluten free or Celiac child take control and learn how to handle things, check out this article I wrote on the subject.
Now let’s get to the fun Halloween candy exchange ideas!
1. Get Money For Candy
You can choose to pay your kids for the candy they can’t eat or even all of it, or you can find someone to pay them for you!
You can check in your local groups for people that will buy candy or put your zip code into this site to help find a place for you. They help find local businesses that will purchase candy from kids.
Locally to me, we have a dentist’s office that will pay kids by the pound for their candy instead of eating it. They, in turn, donate the candy.
2. Make Candy At Home
Just because their favorite candy is now off-limits doesn’t mean they can’t have fun!
Offer to exchange all the packaged and wrapped candy they can no longer enjoy and make a homemade (and gluten free) version instead!
Here is a recipe for Gluten Free Kit Kat bars
3. Make A Present For A Friend
Have them make up a gift basket for a friend of theirs who doesn’t have food restrictions.
Teaching kids to think of others and be kind can be a great gift to themselves and a growth mindset as they grow older.
Consider having them make up a box of candy for a kid that may not have been able to go Trick or Treating. Sometimes local children’s hospitals will accept these donations for the kids. Or you may know someone with a child that could benefit.
4. Trade For Something Better
Before going out, please remind your children that there will be some candy that they will not be able to keep. But it is ok to accept it, and you will have something extraordinary for them later on!
Depending on what your child is interested in, you can get some small items and trade the candy that is not safe for them to eat.
For example, my son loves Pokemon and has been starting to get into Pokemon cards. I am going to pick up some cards that he can trade his unsafe candy for. Any leftover cards he will be able to earn in other ways.
5. Use Them For Crafts
There are a bunch of different things you can do with candy while still in the wrapper!
Here is an idea for making pumpkin treat bags. Maybe they could give them out to their friends with all the candy they can’t have.
Here is an idea for making dad a present out of some candy.
Use the candy still in wrappers to make mosaic art! Separate the candy in wrappers by their color, make a simple outline of what they want to make, and give them some glue!
6. Send Treats To Troops
This is another great opportunity to benefit someone else and help them think outside their own lives.
Here is a link to send candy to troops overseas who don’t get access to many treats. It is such a great way to give them a little taste of home.
Expanding their thinking to benefit other people can really benefit the kids so much. Kids are not developmentally primed to think of others, but as parents, we can help them direct their thinking this way and raise amazing kids!
7. Play A Game To Exchange Candy
Playing a game can be a lot more fun than simply taking away the offending items.
Here is one from Teachers Pay Teachers that helps kids exchange their candy with other kids.
Play checkers or chess with unsafe candy, and all captured candy is kept or exchanged for safe candy.
You can, of course, make up your own games too!
8. Use Candy As Currency
Have them use the candy to pay for extra privileges around the house.
I would do this by separating the unsafe candy and making it clear that it is not to be eaten. If your children might get into and eat the candy, you can put it up to be brought down only for this purpose.
They can then use the candy to pay for things with the candy that you specify ahead of time. You could do many different things, but here are some ideas:
- get credit for a chore they didn’t do
- choose what’s for dinner
- extra tv or game time
- late bedtime
- do a special activity
Something I would keep off the list is a special time with parents. According to some parenting studies I’ve read, they shouldn’t be purchasing this or be used as a reward. But whatever privileges they can purchase around the house and fit into your normal routine would work great!
9. Gamble With Candy
Teach ’em young!
I’m mostly kidding, but some ways you can do this are to “bet” they can win a game. If they win, they get safe candy back, and if they lose, they exchange the unsafe candy.
So you can have them “bet” a certain amount of candy that they will win a game of Chutes and Ladders or Sorry! You can even have the prizes be nonfood items.
If your family does card games, this can work as well.
10. Exchange Candy For Special Privledges
This works like “Candy As Currency,” except instead of keeping the candy around, you exchange it immediately.
So instead of keeping the candy in a bucket for exchanging, you count all the candy and assign different values to different types of coupons.
They may be coupons for extra screen time or other things they may want around the house.
Have them help you create and color the coupons or use old monopoly money to make it interesting.
11. Ding, Dong, Dash
Please give them a new meaning to this old, and not so fun for everyone, game.
Put the candy they can’t have into a small bag and leave it on the doorstep of friends or neighbors.
You can even save it for when someone you know needs a bit of a pick-me-up to brighten their day.
12. Carnival With Candy For Tickets
Set up a little carnival at home or in your backyard. You can even invite some of their friends to do this with them after Trick or Treating!
A few fun ideas for games to set up are here at this link, or think of your own games!
Separate the candy they can’t have and allow them to use it to “purchase” game tickets for all the fun games you have set up. Non-allergy siblings and friends could use any candy to purchase these tickets.
13. Use Candy To Buy Turns In A Game
There are so many great Halloween games out there for kids! Choose your favorite and have them use their candy to “purchase” turns in a game.
For example, in this game where you roll to create a Frankenstein, you would use a piece of candy to buy more dice rolls and create an amusing Frankenstein’s monster!
The most important thing? Have fun and create memories.
Not all of these ideas will work for your family or how much energy you want to put into this! You don’t have to make anything Pinterest perfect to make it memorable for your kids.
Choose just one of the items above and make it a new holiday tradition that you will do every year as a special treat. All of these ideas will help you make it more than “mom has to take my candy away.”
Every year I feel awful for having to do this, and the looks I’ve gotten from it break my heart. But I’ve had great success in making this a fun thing to do together.
This takes the focus off what they can’t have and gives them something new they didn’t get before.
What it gives us parents is a little bit less guilt.