In an effort to take the focus off of food and take the fear out of Halloween, my local anaphylaxis support group has organized food-free Halloween parties for the past few years. Yup, you read that right.
A Halloween party with no food at all. And what’s more, this is a big hit with the kids.
Here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking of throwing your own food-free (and therefore much less scary!) party for Halloween.
If your home is large enough to accommodate the group, perfect. But if you are arranging a larger party, then inquire at the local school board about community use of schools. Schools often rent out space such as gymnasiums to the community. My experience has been that they won’t rent space for private parties, but they will rent space for peer meetings, and if you’re getting a support group together and there’s no food, you can definitely argue that your gathering is indeed a meeting.
A true allergy-aware party will be latex-free, so forget the balloons and head to the local dollar store. There you will find tons of inexpensive decorations, from wall clings that give you a dungeon atmosphere to tree silhouettes that can be the inspiration for a cemetery theme. Paint cardboard boxes to look like tombstones. (Think of your guests, though – nothing too spooky for the 6 and under crowd!)
We opt to serve nothing but water since members of our large group have allergies to all priority allergens and many others. Large containers of water are less expensive and more environmentally friendly than smaller containers. Be sure to have markers on hand to label everyone’s cup.
For small children, cover a table with craft paper and lay out an assortment of craft items such as stickers, foam shapes, pom-poms, markers, crayons and glue sticks. This gives the little ones something to do while they check out each other’s costumes and EpiPen belts.
Older kids might like to watch a scary movie, dance or play games.
We’ve had great success with games such as:
Zombie Tag: One person is the zombie and as s/he claims more victims, they too become zombies. This continues until there is only one human left.
Eyeball and Spoon Race: In the weeks leading up to Halloween, it’s easy to find small balls that look like eyeballs. Or, you can color ping-pong balls to look like eyes.
Wrap A Mummy (or Daddy): Participants in groups wrap willing adults in toilet paper. The ‘mummies’ then race to the finish line and depending on how difficult you want to make it, they can be asked to create something at the finish line, such as to build a skeleton out of paper bones or construct a jack-o-lantern.
At the end of the party, instead of candy, children can be given:
- Books with a Halloween theme (second-hand stores carry a large selection of children’s books)
- Small children might like a kaleidoscope (get it from the dollar store and decorate it with Halloween stickers to keep with the theme)
- Glow sticks are fun and handy if kids do plan on going out for Halloween.
- Ribbon wands are a big hit amongst the smaller children. When I couldn’t find any Halloween-themed wands, I created some. Here’s how:
Halloween Ribbon Wands
- Wooden dowel ¼-inch thick x 12 inches long
- Rubber nib (Home Depot)
- 1-inch wide satin ribbon, approx. 3 feet per wand
- Dental floss
- Sewing needle with a large eye
- Electrical tape
- Paint the dowels in Halloween colors. Fold one-half foot of end of the ribbon over cut a small x in the double layer. Attach the eyelet (follow the instruction on the package).
- Take a length of dental floss approx. 7 inches long, double it and tie the ends together in a large knot. Thread loop through the needle and push it through the tip of the rubber nib. Remove the needle. Push the loop through the eyelet and then insert the nib through the loop so that the ribbon is attached to the nib.
- Place the nib on one end of the dowel and wrap electrical tape around the other end about 4 inches up to create a handle.