Would you send your children to the neighbors if it meant a 50/50 chance of receiving something so dangerous that they could die? 

I do it once a year. I just take a deep breath and tell myself it’s only Halloween.

My anxiety is at its peak during Halloween. It isn’t a haunted house or scary movie that raises the hair on the back of my neck. It isn’t the threat of razor blades in candy apples or pot laced Colorado chocolate that has my heart pounding. It’s the life and death risk my children have during trick or treating. I have children with peanut allergies, and now Halloween has become my worst nightmare. To me it means a quick bite of fun in the dark could lead to a visit in the ER or worse.

Here is my advice on how to make it through the festivities, without going completely gray:

#1. Spend all year, not just one day, talking to your kids about how to keep themselves safe. Read ingredient labels together. Talk about how things are made, where food is manufactured and if peanuts could be present. 

#2. Scope out peanut free candy before Oct. 31st. Bring the kids to the store to shop for the options they can have. Arm your kids with some ideas of what’s safe to pick. 

#3. Give them an over the counter dose of Benadryl before you leave the house.

#4. Look for the teal pumpkins. Homes with a teal colored pumpkin out offer treats free of common allergies.

#5. This one is HUGE, it is the cardinal rule for a safe Halloween; no eating at all until mom and dad sort the candy. That includes no sneaking a bite while trick or treating. Live and die by this rule, no exceptions.

#6. At home sort the candy into three piles. First pile should be items you know are safe.The second pile are peanut obvious items that can go to work with dad. The third pile are all the maybes. Time to check them out; read labels, look up ingredients online. Nothing gets into the first pile unless you are 100% sure.

#7. Trade your children a safe piece each time you take away one that could trigger an allergy. 

#8. Forgive all the people that don’t know any better, and forget about caring what others think of you as you hover and possibly scold your kids for sneaking something in the dark. 

As paralyzing as Halloween can be for me, it’s a successful night when my kids are able to feel pretty normal. We don’t even have it half bad. There are plenty of kids that are allergic to much more than peanuts. 

To all the parents dealing with their Halloween fright night, cheers to us for not drinking a whole bottle of wine to get through. Cheers to the kids for having a few less tears than they did last year. And cheers to at least knowing our boogeyman.


Sharon Schaefer

Sharon Schaefer is a classically trained chef with more than 18 years professional experience in catering, fine dining, culinary education and school nutrition services. She is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. During most of her childhood her family practiced healthy eating habits stemming from a macrobiotic diet. Her parents were also investors in a small town health food store. Since childhood she was on a quest to make healthy food taste good and has turned that focus on great tasting food that kids want to eat. She found her passion and inspiration for feeding children healthy meals when she became a mother in 2004. Sharon Schaefer is married and is the mother of 2 boys. She works full time in a local progressive school system feeding children from pre-K through high school. She is also very active in her community and is found regularly volunteering her time and talents.