easter (with food allergies) is my favorite holiday

A baby excited to celebrate Easter with food allergies

easter (with food allergies) is my favorite holiday

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Easter is my favorite holiday. As a child, I woke up earlier for Easter than I did for Christmas. I’m pretty sure the driving force was that my parents hid money in some of my eggs. I was an obsessive saver from a very young age. We then spent the afternoon with my entire family (remember, my mom is one of nine kids), running around a giant church hall. I’m determined to make Ollie just as excited for Easter, with food allergies.

what’s in the basket?

toys and books are the perfect easter basket items when celebrating easter with food allergies

We’re trying to rid our house of clutter, so I’ve opted for larger toys, practical items, and limited special treats. Taking the focus away from food in the basket brings less attention to what a child might be missing out on. It leaves you with less of a sugar crash to handle at the end of the day too! With all of Ollie’s GI issues, a low sugar diet is important for his gut health.

Ollie received Disney’s Cars for Christmas and has watched it all of 2.5 times, but is still obsessed with Lighting McQueen and Mater. We’re also in a building phase. This Disney Lego set will be a HUGE hit. Going along with the building phase, we’re adding to his MagnaTile collection. Truth be told, this one might be for my husband and me too. You build incredible things with those plastic, magnetic wonders! These are both what I’d consider “timeless” toys that he’ll use for many years. When we play with these and discuss the Easter bunny delivering them, there are no thoughts of missing out on unsafe foods. Ollie associates the holiday with our fun times creating together.  

We also added a few new snack bags to his basket. These live in a low drawer at our house and Ollie loves to help pack his own safe snacks. I love that it is teaching him an important habit, bringing your own safe food, at a young age. These bags work really well. We have some that have held up for almost four years now: rinse, throw in the laundry, and hang dry.

You’re going to laugh at the next practical item on the list… a candle. We’ve been lighting a candle with some dinners lately in order to be “fancy.” It’s really difficult to go out to eat with the number of food allergies on Ollie’s list so anything we can do to make dinner at home more fun is great. We’re currently burning a Christmas candle; upgrading to this non-toxic, fresh scented candle will bring our fanciness to the next level (and season.)

As his mom is an Usborne Books & More consultant, Ollie is also guaranteed to get a few books for every holiday. This time around the selections are Peek Inside Animal Homes and Bug Hotel. Both are great options for Spring and will get everyone excited about exploring outside. Ollie is always a fan of anything interactive – both of these have tons of flaps. We gave him two books for Valentine’s Day as well and made non-food treats for his friends. I love the idea of him growing up associating holidays with learning and books instead of just food.

In terms of food, I’ll put a special treat in each snack bag: Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips in one and Trader Joe’s freeze dried mangoes in the other. The only other food item is a maple candy bunny from Palmer Lane. We’re from Vermont. Real maple syrup is a fact of life. These are made in a peanut and tree nut free facility. One of the owners, Colleen Palmer, is amazing and will answer any questions you have. I love that Ollie still gets a fun, themed treat without the cross-contamination risk that comes with most chocolate. Someday I’ll have my life together enough to make our own chocolate goodies, but until then thank goodness for Palmer Lane!

the hunt

fun and practical ideas for an easter egg hunt with food allergies

This is where I had to get creative. The criteria for our food allergy-friendly Easter egg hunt were:

  1. Non-food treats
  2. Nothing I’ll want to throw away in one day
  3. Nothing that will break the bank (side note here: both Easter toys were totally free thanks to an Amazon gift card I earned using Ibotta)

Some eggs will have gold dollar coins in them. We’re working on the concept of saving, spending, and helping others. I’ll get five or so coins from a local financial institution to hide in some magical golden eggs and put in his bank after. What child wouldn’t be excited about finding golden treasure?!

practical makes perfect

This may not seem that exciting, but he’s also getting socks. They’re Winnie the Pooh socks that go with a current obsession with a nursery rhyme Pooh book we read EVERY night. How many pairs of socks does your child lose? I feel good spending money on a practical and fun item that will fit really well in eggs. All around win!

Get creative with your food allergy-friendly Easter egg hunt. I always err on the side of practicality, but only with items I know my child will love thanks to a beloved character or current obsession. Obsessions can be quite random and hilarious too. Want to know what my kid wanted for Christmas this year? A ceiling fan and a ladder. A consistent request he even brought to Santa’s lap. We have NO idea why, but look how happy he is:

toddler excited about getting a ladder for Christmas

a group hunt

The hunt with my extended family is a bit different than most. Each family brings a specific number of items for the children participating. Everyone is told what to find (we sometimes have to even out bags at the end). When I was younger, we had a big age range and the specific item method prevented older cousins from snagging all the goodies before the little ones. Some relatives get creative and specify an egg color for each child to find and some just forgo the eggs altogether. For a food allergy family who doesn’t want to limit the hunt for everyone, the specified egg color is a great way to ensure your child is only finding safe treats. I’ve also seen the suggestion to do different stickers for each child in addition to or instead of the colored egg. If there are allergenic treats in eggs other children are finding, of course still supervise the hunt closely.

That being said, everyone has been asked to refrain from bringing anything that Ollie is allergic to as we are at my parent’s house. Inevitably, a treat will stay hidden and the thought of Ollie playing outside there, encountering a bag of decomposing M&Ms terrifies me.

Maple lollipops from Palmer Lane Maple are great for celebrating Easter at a family gathering with food allergies

food allergy-friendly easter egg hunt ideas

What are some of the ideas that have been shared?

-bubbles

-books

-bouncy balls

-stickers

-sidewalk chalk

-crayons

-art supplies

-play dough

-Palmer Lane maple lollipops

We’re working on introducing highly refined sunflower oil into Ollie’s diet as per our allergist. Once that is successful, Yum Earth, Surf Sweet, and Black Forest organic gummies might become an option but we certainly won’t be testing that at a large family event. For those who are wondering, highly refined oils are typically non-allergenic as the protein is removed thanks to the heating process. Cold-pressed oils are not safe and therefore it is VERY important to always check with companies to understand ingredient specifics and manufacturing processes.

What are your favorite Easter traditions? How have you adapted to make holidays work for your food allergy family? I’d love to hear!

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