Christmas season is also known as candy season, especially in households like mine with young children. I try to find balance with the whole junk food thing during the holidays. So, I allow stockings full of sweet treats and I happily participate in cookie decorating days and candy cane snacks.
However, one of my kids has nut allergies so I have had to learn how to enjoy a peanut free Christmas.
I want my son to fly under the radar when it comes to his allergies. Specifically, his dad and I teach him that the numerous food restrictions are his responsibility and not everyone else’s. Now, he’s only in 2nd grade so we help him out from time to time. Eventually we hope that he will have the tools to safely manage what he eats without creating drama.
Peanut Free Christmas Ideas
So, back to how we handle Christmas. Advent calendars, chocolate Santas, most candy canes and tons of chocolate-y, nutty desserts are off-limits because these products have been made in facilities with nuts.
Now, if I were a better mother baker, I could make mountains of Christmas treats from scratch and avoid a lot of peanut-induced disappointment.
However, that’s just not me.
Instead, I’ve come up with ways to make creative substitutions so everyone can enjoy peanut free Christmas celebrations.
First up is the Advent calendar tradition. Do you remember these fun, cardboard Christmas boxes with paper flaps covering 25 pieces of chocolate candy? My siblings and I each received one of these glorious, date-stamped boxes of happiness from our grandmother every year when we were children. Our grandmother still buys advent calendars for all of her great-grandchildren and they love them as much as we did.
Unfortunately, nearly every Advent calendar I’ve seen has the “made in a facility with nuts” warning. Instead of restricting my son from using his calendar (which would break his heart!), I let him open the paper flap and retrieve the candy. Then, I eat the candy (yay me!) and give him an Andes mint instead. I never buy Andes mints except at the holidays, so this candy swap is the perfect peanut free Christmas treat.
Next is the holiday party at school. These are the types of events that can give me a heart attack. It’s entirely possible that someone would accidentally give my kid a cookie or piece of candy that is laced with a peanut or nut. I mean, those classroom parties are chaotic and I can’t always be there to babysit.
Provide Portable Alternatives
So, my solution to the holiday party is to provide a fun treat that fits in my son’s pocket and is something he isn’t allowed to eat very often. Usually we go with a small bag of mini Oreos or Chips Ahoy cookies. He’s thrilled to have something that is a huge treat and I feel fine that he will easily refuse the classroom treats while he has such easy access to his safe cookies.
Another peanut free Christmas party success!
Finally we’re up to the most delicate part of the peanut free Christmas effort. Please don’t make me repeat this, but we throw away a lot of candy that the kids receive as gifts. Listen, we are blessed to have such nice relatives and friends that are nice enough to give our kids bags of holiday cookies and candy. Sometimes, though, it’s just too much.
Honestly, I do make an effort to freeze the cookies or assorted breads but we just run out of room. Plus, since many of the items don’t have labels and can’t be eaten by the allergy kid, we often have piles of leftover Christmas treats hanging around long after New Year’s Day.
I really do regret finding alternative final resting places for our un-labeled sweet treats; hopefully there are no hard feelings!
Read Food Labels
If you’re giving candy or other sugary items as gifts this holiday season, try to find peanut and nut free options. Food labels are a wonderful thing and it’s fairly easy to choose items that won’t trigger a peanut or tree nut allergic reaction. Happy Holidays!