How to make Valentine’s Day Inclusive for Kids with Allergies

. February 2, 2016.

Valentine’s Day is a FOOD holiday. Boxes of chocolates, conversation hearts, and pink or red Hershey Kisses may make your heart sing, but they can be scary or even deadly, to kids with food allergies. Food allergies affect 1 in 13 children, meaning your child likely has a classmate or knows a friend with an allergy.  These kids are normally left out of special treats at school parties or their parents are scrambling to find safe alternatives so their child can be included.

Non-food treats (bubbles, stickers, special pencils or markers, mini toys) are an easy, safe, and healthy alternative to traditional Valentine’s Day candy. The possibilities of these trinkets are endless and don’t require any extra work.

If you are feeling crafty there are plenty of DIY options via Pinterest. My favorites include: a crazy straw with a tag that says “I’m crazy about you,” 3 or 4 crayons in a ziplock bag with a card that says, “Valentine, color your heart out!” or race cars (3 for $1 at Dollar Tree) with a note that says “I wheelie like you/ You make my heart race.”

Another route would be to pair your store-bought Valentine cards with a non-food treat, such as glow sticks as light sabers to go with Star Wars Valentines, or Mardi Gras necklaces paired with Frozen or princess Valentines. Target even sells $3 “favor and Valentine” kits that include cards along with 16 heart-shaped slinkys!

Party favors, dollar store toys, or the dollar spot at your favorite big box store, are treasure troves for a project like this. The goal is to include inexpensive and fun items. Not to mention, you will probably spend less money than previously on candy.

There are other benefits to sending non-food Valentine treats to your child’s school parties. You are teaching your child to be inclusive and thoughtful to those around them, YOUR kiddo will come home less sugared up, and your child’s teacher will probably thank you!