The Easter egg hunt is an honored tradition in many communities. And with an estimated half a million children and youth in South Africa living with one or more food allergies, holding an inclusive event simply makes sense. It also demonstrates both community spirit and compassion.
Ensuring that all kids feel welcome and included in an Easter egg hunt is easier than it may sound. With a bit of advanced planning, you too can hold a fun and safe event. For example, there are as many inspirations for your Easter event as you can imagine or find online on sites like Pinterest and SheKnows. Before you decide on the approach you and/or your group would like to take, here are five tips to help make your event a hopping success!
- Make it a non-food Easter egg hunt.
One way to completely side-step the challenge of accommodating a variety of food allergies is to hold an event using plastic eggs that you can fill with non-food treats, such as stickers, erasers, small action figures, and other little treasures before hiding. (Choking-hazard alert: Be sure to keep these small items out of the reach of younger children!)
- If you do want to include chocolate Easter eggs, go on the hunt for peanut and tree-nut free eggs before the main event.
Peanut and tree-nut free chocolate Easter eggs may be found with a bit of advance research and visits to local retailers. It is also possible to order Easter eggs free of these and other specific allergens online. Here, Google is your friend. As always, be sure to read ingredient labels with care every time, as a product’s ingredients may change.
- Prepare your own treats.
If you’re feeling adventurous and know your way around homemade candy-making, you might want to try host an Easter egg hunt like Nina Pereira has. A parent of a child with food allergies, Pereira, an Ontario resident, has hosted an Easter egg hunt free of gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and soy.. Pereira’s vision for her event was to encompass as many common allergens as possible. As she writes, “If I [hosted] it with only my daughter’s food allergies in mind, what good would that be? Food allergies are all relevant! I want to show people that with some creativity, it is possible to create an inclusive event.” If you wish to buy, for well labelled allergen free options try Caring Candies for ready-made allergen free treats!
- Switch up the hunting theme!
With a slight tweak, your event can become an Easter scavenger hunt for non-food items too large to include in a plastic egg. Depending on your budget, some examples include Easter or spring-themed coloring books, markers and crayons, modeling clay, small toys, stuffed animals, gift cards, DVDs, skipping ropes, and trading cards (e.g., Pokémon).
- Get crafty!
Finally, since the only limit to an Easter-themed event is your imagination, there’s no need to go hunting at all. Instead, another fun option for kids is crafting. Whether it be a coloring event, decorating an Easter basket, or creating rabbit ears out of felt, a group arts and crafts session is great fun for the whole family.
Wishing you and yours a happy Easter!
Adapted from Food Allergy Canada article 4 April 2017 Easter tips