We had a wonderful time trick or treating, and my kids made out like bandits. We lost track of how many times the buckets were dumped into the master bag, which was carried by Papa Bear as we schlepped down the sidewalk. They had loads upon loads full of delicious lollipops, twizzlers, smarties and bottle caps, gummies, and more.
The only problem is, our 4 year old (that cute little Skeleton Ninja right there) is extremely sensitive to food dye. We go so far as to sometimes say that he is allergic, because that word commands a kind of respect that people don't have for a word like "sensitive" even though it's a really serious issue.
BooBoo on food coloring is a bit like a person on speed. He revs up and can't settle himself down. He feels out of control, it's not that he's trying to be bad but he just loses all of his impulse control, which at the age of four he already has a pretty shaky grasp on to begin with. He loses volume control and he'll become aggressive, emotional, and he'll tantrum and cry very easily. There is some kind of physical reaction, because he will break out in little pimples around his mouth and on his bottom. It may not be a true allergy but it's a reaction to be aware of and to prevent, nevertheless.
Which makes holiday celebrations and all of their delicious candy treats really difficult. Everywhere we turn there are more treats, everywhere, from everyone. So many of them, and so many pretty colors! Such a fun treat, until you have a child who reacts to them the way that BooBoo does, and then you look at all those appealing goodies and see poison. Valentines Day, the holiday of red dye #40, the brightest and most toxic of all the food dyes, is the bane of my existence.
But we really enjoy Halloween, and our kids love getting access to the candy bowl, and they really do a good job of limiting their candy intake. I'm very lucky and I don't worry about them sneaking candy when I'm not paying attention, or gorging themselves until they're sick. They're very good about it. We want to let them enjoy their treats since it's pretty rare for us to have candy in the house. So, to make it a win-win situation for everyone, we instituted the Colored Candy Trade-In Event!
The rules are simple. The day after Halloween, we hit the stores. Drug stores, grocery stores, anywhere that sells Halloween candy. There are major discounts on Halloween candy on November 1. The kids get to rummage through the bins and pick out bags of their very favorite treats, with the only rule being that the treats must be dye-free. (Thankfully we don't have issues with things like nuts, dairy, etc. but this could be adapted.) It has to be within reason. I set a price limit. It's amazing how much 50% and 75% off candy you can buy for $20. :)
When we get home the candy gets dumped into a big bowl, and then another big bowl (the trade-in bowl) is set out. The kids rummage through their candy stash and bring me their colored candy, we count it, and I pay out chocolate and other dye-free treats in exchange for all of the brightly colored corn syrupy yumminess. They have an absolute blast, they love filling up their bags with treats that are their most favorites, we fill up a big bag of candy for Papa Bear to bring to work to share, and BooBoo doesn't spiral into food dye induced meltdowns. It's a solution that works well for everyone!