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Ok, I know you saw the title and immediately thought, “Why on earth would anyone want that?!” So, let’s just hop right in. Candy has been a long-standing tradition for Halloween since the 1930’s-40’s in America. It wasn’t uncommon to get small toys, coins, homemade food, trinkets, and such. In the 1950’s, candy manufacturers started to catch on and began making and marketing special small sized bags of candy specifically geared towards the Halloween festivities. In 1970, a huge push for safe candy made the final transition from homemade goods and cookies to fully sealed manufactured treats as the only acceptable and safe candy. When I was a kid, and even to this day, our mom always made us dump out our candy to sort through before consuming. Anything that was opened or homemade looking was tossed.
Here we are now in modern day. One thing has become clear, and that is that now as a parent with a child with mild sensory issues, and having friends with special needs children, children with sensory perception disorders, and allergies severe enough to warrant sitting at a special nut-free table at school at lunch, that Halloween can be downright difficult and alienating for some of these children. What can we do that isn’t just lame pencils or erasers for cool non-candy items? How can one make sure these kids that have restrictions still get to participate? I have a few ideas, so let’s get to it!
First up, lets talk about various small “treat” ideas that are safe for kids with food allergies, and that appeal to the kids as being a reasonably hip “treat” and not a lame one. Having two children in middle school, we scoured the internet and brainstormed ideas based off their encounters with the kids at their schools.
Here’s our list of the top items:
First up, Squishies! If you don’t know what these are, they’re small toys that are shaped like all sorts of cute animals, or food items like sushi, and they tend to have cute cartoon faces on them. You can buy these in bulk sets, and some come with key chains, so they can be clipped onto backpacks and stuff! They’re pretty gender neutral, and a great thing to take to school to give out to friends and not set off any food allergies. They’re also as the name suggests, a hoot to squish up, and then watch them expand again. They’re great for fidgeters, and they’re quiet!
I bought two different styles to check out, one set has 30 pieces, and is made from foam. The set I bought retails for about $14 bucks, which for a classroom worth of “treats” anyone can use, that’s not a bad investment, especially since it won’t be consumed, and they can keep them till they squish no more! Find them here. Pack of 30 Squishes
The second set is a different style. They come individually wrapped and have an almost sticky quality to them. They’re more stretchy because of this different material, plus they’re fun to throw at a wall and watch them stick! The shapes of the characters are adorable. These can look like candy though!!! To remedy this, I bought a cheap pack of labels from a dollar store and added a label that says, “This item is a toy, Do Not EAT!” These Mochi squishy toys retail on Amazon for about $10 bucks and have 20 pieces! Find them here. Pack of 20 Squishes
The next item on the list is a fun and detailed set of pull-back cars and trucks. As a kid, I loved anything remote controlled, or that went by itself across the floor. You can get a whole set of 20 pieces for about $12 bucks! Vroom vroom! This set uses nontoxic materials and moving parts like shovels and truck beds. Personally, I would mix these with the squishies for variety. Find those here. 20 Pull Back Trucks
Finally, life wouldn’t be complete without at least one fun set of items that really put the “trick” in trick-or-treat. That would be the wonderfully titillating and giggle-fit inducing fart sound slime! If you’re thinking, “Ew gross!” Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s basically a small container of slime, that when forcefully pressed into itself or the container, it needs to release the air that gets trapped, and because of the soft nature of the slime, it makes a rather impressive crass-sounding noise. I can’t remember a time when this item hasn’t made a child giggle hysterically and run off to show their friends. This item is also excellent for children who thrive on sensory experiences, as it’s pleasing to touch and the audible noise is grin-producing. These come in a set of 12, and retail for about $11 dollars. Find them here. 12 Pack of Fart Slime
There are a few ways one can utilize these items. You can either be the one offering an alternative candy bucket for trick-or-treaters just to be prepared, or, you’re the parent with a child that would benefit from these and need a plan to make sure your kid can participate fully. If you’re just offering an alternative, there’s a few different avenues you can go down. My small town does what’s called a trunk-or-treat, meaning the local church organizes a street lined with cars with open trunks for the kids to trick or treat at. When you’re living in a rural area this helps kids have a place to go. You can always buy some containers from the dollar store, divide these items among some buckets, and offer them to each vehicle for any kids that come along that can utilize this. The other thing you can do is if candy can be brought to school for Halloween, you can donate it to the classroom, or allow your kids to pass them out to everyone, making sure then that everyone can be included.
If you live in a more normal suburban neighborhood, ask a family member or friend to dress up so that your kid doesn’t know it’s them. Maybe they wear a small mask and go about three houses ahead of you, and have your helper let the house know that a child with restrictions is coming, and if they could offer them this certain toy. A friend did this, and had her sister walk ahead a few houses, and explained that the little girl with glasses in the pink princess outfit had allergies, and to please offer her this item, and they handed the neighbor a toy or safe candy to give to Claire. Claire was tickled to be able to walk house to house still and get safe candy and toys, and the neighbors were thrilled to help and more than willing to participate. It feels great to know you’re helping another person after all, and this world needs all the love we can give!
In the end, I’m not opposed to candy; in fact, my girls know to hide their bags, or I’ll demand first pick as payment for taking them, ha-ha! However, I feel strongly that every child should be able to participate. Hopefully you find some of these items and ideas helpful this year! Happy Halloween, and safe travels!