WHY I LOVE – AND HATE – HALLOWEEN…

Halloween has always been important to me and my favourite seasonal celebration.

I can’t really explain why except it’s all about the dressing up, the mystery, the magic, the folklore and the feel of it. I suppose I’m one of the generation where this largely USA tradition of going ‘all out’ on Halloween became more normal here in the UK. It was less so for my parents.

Halloween allows me  – and my team – the opportunity to bake, create decorated cakes, decorate ourselves by dressing up and putting on weird and wonderful make up, have fun and go out into the community and be part of the celebrations for one night (though less so this year of course).

At Creative Nature, Halloween has been in the planning for months so the energy has been building and building and we’re now only weeks away and we intend to make the most of it – just check out any of our social media platforms and you’ll see I’m not joking.

For any of you who think this is all about business and sales for me and for my company – you are wrong.

While that is important of course as my business means the world to me and it also supports jobs – there’s another reason and it’s that reason which shows why I have also hated Halloween. 

Why those with allergies might hate Halloween:

When you have severe allergies and anaphylaxis like me – Halloween and the food element of it brings overwhelming worries and concerns. Literally one wrong choice for me could mean an allergic reaction, hospital, intensive care – or worse.

As a child, we did try to celebrate Halloween however for my parents and me (as I grew older) it became a risky exercise, fraught with anxiety and became just another reason for me to feel ‘different’ or ‘isolated’.

I wanted to celebrate Halloween and do the ‘trick or treat’ thing in my community with my siblings – yet it was often soured by:

*Being offered sweets which I knew I could not eat.

*Being offered homemade biscuits or cakes – which I probably couldn’t risk.

*Gathering treats which couldn’t be eaten in the moment but had to be scrutinised for ingredients when we all got home.

*Being offered sweet treats in good faith by neighbours who then had to be questioned about ingredients, how they cooked it – which is not a great conversation when someone is simply trying to do something nice.

*Actually having an allergic reaction to biscuits which we were told were okay by the maker however clearly were not.

Therefore Halloween became a great opportunity to dress up, have fun however for me the ‘treat’ part of it was more like a perpetual ‘trick’.

Therefore I unapologetically will be shouting about my company’s products which really help children like me today. They help children like me feel included, they provide a moment when we can be just like anyone else.

Our Gnawbles are sweet treats (think Maltesers, M&Ms or similar) which are free of the top 14 allergens and which taste wonderful and are suitable for everybody. They are safe to eat, they are fun, they can decorate cakes alongside our baking mixes – also free from – and can be eaten by everyone with NO FEAR.

Do take a look and place an order – https://www.creativenaturesuperfoods.co.uk

Some tips for celebrating Halloween safely this year: 

A local Facebook group?: 

Many communities and housing estates have Facebook groups or Whats App groups to share information which is uber local.

This is a useful tool to gently spread the word about a child’s allergies in the community when it comes to Halloween and offer some suggestions around safe treats.

You can introduce the subject without singling out your child as being ‘different’ on the doorstep when it’s too late to react.

If your community doesn’t have this – can you create one?

Shopping for free-from options:

If you know there are children in your neighbourhood with allergies, shop ahead of time for: 

Non-food items

  • pencils;
  • crayons;
  • glow-in-the-dark-sticks;
  • small toys;
  • hair bands;
  • puzzle booklets;

Or you could consider free-from snacks for all to be safe – how about  small bags of Gnawbles; Protein Crunch Bars or Raw Fruit Oaties in the treats – https://www.creativenaturesuperfoods.co.uk

Alternative Halloween/ New Traditions

If Trick and Treating is something that you won’t feel comfortable taking part in this year, Covid19 restrictions here are a few suggestions:

  • A special Halloween treat bag, filled with personal touches, and foods that are allergy safe for your child.
  • Bake some free-from muffins, decorated especially for Halloween, using our Chocolate Chip Muffin Baking Mix.
  • Make a special cup of hot chocolate, in their own personalised Halloween mug, made with our Raw Cacao Powder.
  • Have a Halloween scavenger hunt around the house, decorating the house, and hiding things for the children to find.
  • Have a virtual Halloween party with children sharing their costumes and ‘looks’ with others and play music with each other and have fun quizzes or competitions.

A more timeless idea that promotes inclusion and safety for all children, and means that children with food allergies don’t have to miss out on the fun of Halloween is the Teal Pumpkin Project which started in the USA.

The Teal Pumpkin Project 

The Teal Pumpkin Project set up by FARE (Food Allery Research & Education), is about raising awareness of food allergies through the addition of non-food trinkets and toys to your treats, making Halloween safer and more inclusive for all trick or treaters.

The project was inspired by a local community group in East Tennessee, and has become a world-wide movement to create a safer Halloween for all kids.  Putting a Teal pumpkin on your doorstep means you have non-food treats available, such as glow sticks or small toys. This act promotes inclusion for trick-or treaters who have food allergies or other conditions.

The FARE website has resources to support this campaign. It answers any questions you may have too. For example, if people don’t have time to paint pumpkins teal, or can’t easily get hold of paint, create there are downloadable posters on the website to stick on your door instead.

https://www.foodallergy.org/our-initiatives/awareness-campaigns/living-teal/teal-pumpkin-project

 

 

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