Have you been by the holiday section at your favorite big box store lately? It’s loaded right now with red and pink hearts. In addition to the candy wrapped especially for the holiday, there are boxes of small cards with corny sayings destined for your school-aged children’s classrooms. Some of those boxes have a stash of sweet treats to be shared with each card. If you’re an allergy parent, this is where some degree of that allergy-related anxiety kicks in. Will your child be heartbroken when you dump the Valentine’s loot on the table and find nothing allergy-friendly in it?
It doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of alternatives beyond the edible treats! Some you’ll find in the same aisle with the other Valentines and some you can make together with your child at home.
A Bit of Bubble!
What child doesn’t love a bottle of bubbles? From those tiny party-favor-sized bottles to the more traditional handheld versions, bubbles are beloved no matter how small or big you are. Blogger Caroline Armelle Drake tapped into that bubble-love to create a sweet kid-friendly Valentine message, “Being your friend makes me BURST with joy!” Caroline affixed a small bubble bottle to a note card and slipped the packet into a clear cellophane envelope. You could follow her lead. The bottle itself could also stand alone with the right sticker added to it. Have fun with it!
Light-up My Valentines!
Glow sticks surely run a tight second behind bubbles on the list of universally beloved items. It may be hard to convince an excited gaggle of kids not to break and shake their sticks before dark, and that’s okay. The soft glow will be a treat day or night. You can tape glow sticks to any of your favorite Valentines or you and your child can create your own puny cards. As an example, blogger Melissa turned a pack of glow sticks into mini lightsabers and she’s even got DIY printable Star Wars Valentine Cards you can use.
No Need to Be Puzzling…Unless You Want to Be
Most of us have probably lost more hours than we care to admit trying to get that tiny silver ball through the maze on any number of inexpensive, plastic party favor mazes. Blogger Kelly paired these simple toys with an “A-Maze-Ing” Valentine’s message to create a card your kid will love to hand out. You can use her printable card, or you create your own pun. Like the bubbles above, a simple sticker placed on the back on the maze would be just as good!
Baby Shark Attack!
Okay, yes. I know some of you are groaning right now as a certain shark-themed song makes itself a doot-dooting ear worm. Blogger BettiJo’s shark-themed Valentines are cute enough to make it worth it. Even if you opt to skip Baby Shark and family, this idea will work well with smaller rubber ducks and other such toys.
Look Before You Leap
Your beloved big box store (and lots of others, by the way) will also have an assortment of pre-made cards with small token non-edible gifts. Just remember, non-edible doesn’t necessarily translate to “safe for food-allergic kids.” Those fun cards complete with Playdoh, as an example, won’t be sweet for
wheat-allergic children. Some crayon brands contain soy, which could be an issue for certain allergic children. Some children have trouble with adhesives or latex. Do your due diligence. Talk to your child’s teacher ahead of time to find out if there any allergy concerns in the class and then plan accordingly.
Share the Love
Whether you’re an allergy parent or not, it’s important to note that YOUR decision to go food-free with Valentine’s Day card treats is a great first step. A great next step is to share the love and let other families know they have options beyond the heart-covered wrapping on a candy treat. Start a dialogue. Share this article on your social media pages. Take pictures of the cute Valentines you and your child create and post about it! The best way to love children with food allergies is to share the message about how to keep them safe!