Are you drawing a blank on holiday gift ideas for your friends or loved ones who suffer from food allergies? Your reason for purchasing an allergy management-related gift may be that you are aware that managing allergies can be costly. You may know that currently the United States spends approximately $25 billion a year on issues related to food allergies, and families spend approximately $20 billion of that amount for out of pocket costs related to allergy management, including equipment purchase, repair and upkeep. Maybe this holiday season, the gift of allergy management-related items to help offset expenses for your friends or loved ones who suffer from food allergies might be just what the doctor ordered. But, determining exactly what to get may still be a giant black hole of confusion and uncertainty.
The following list of creative gift ideas may surprise you and help you decide. At the end of this article, there is an added bonus: 5 Items to Avoid when purchasing a gift for food-allergic children. But first, check out these Top 10 Holiday Gifts for kids with food allergies and their parents:
- Fashionable Allergy Alert Jewelry – Stylish pendants, bracelets and necklaces are both “hip” and functional. You can conduct an Internet search for “fashionable medic alert jewelry” or check out sites like Pinterest to find items that may fit your child or loved one’s personal style.
- Auto-Injector Cases – Since many allergy sufferers keep multiple auto-injectors in easy-to-reach locations, it stands to reason they may also need multiple cases to store those injectors. Examples of stylish yet functional auto-injector cases can be found at Epi-essentials for one. Additionally, an Internet search for “auto-injector cases” can help point you to retailers.
- Activity Books – Children’s books about food allergies can make great gifts. They can help explain allergies in general, help children understand more about their own allergies and help them understand they are not alone and have the power to help others. For instance, Tumptin’s Sneeze is a story about an elephant who suffers from allergies and his friend, a determined girl named Kiya. The story helps bring awareness to allergies and helps children understand that people can look out for each other.
- Allergy Friendly Toys for Kids – Toys can be tricky. Even though a toy would seem to be safe for a child with food allergies, many toys are made with nuts, soy or milk in the materials; simply touching the toy could be dangerous for the food-allergic child. Additionally, smaller children tend to put a lot of things in their mouths. Toys made from wood (like wooden puzzles) or hard plastic (like Legos) that can be easily washed tend to be safer for food-allergic children to play with.
- Books and Cookbooks – For parents. Planning allergy friendly meals can take time and effort. But because food intolerances and allergies, along with other food issues, have become more prevalent in American society, more information has also appeared detailing how to make quick, healthy meals made from whole foods. A book or three related to allergen-free meal planning and preparation can help take some of the guess work out of cooking. The time saved can be used for a bit of relaxing mommy or daddy “down time.”
- Time Savers for Meal Prep – For parents. Cooking meals from scratch, made from whole foods, is possibly the best way to control what a food-allergic child eats. But the thought of cooking from scratch might also be a source of anxiety to some. The gift of a good slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, food processor, high-speed blender and/or bread machine for gluten-free bread can save parents oodles of time in the kitchen. Since many of these items cook food while parents are at work, that time can be used for something else.
- Reusable Food Containers – For homemade foods away from home. Since kids with allergies primarily eat foods from home, portable, reusable food containers that are PABA free and dishwasher/freezer/microwave safe can make great gifts.
- Journals – Also a great gift for kids who have to keep food journals.
- Safe Candies – It’s the holidays, and many children wish to eat candy because, well, it’s the holidays. Many companies now make allergy-friendly candy for children. A simple Internet search for “allergen-free candy” can help you find manufacturers of allergen-free sweets and locations for purchase. You can also see the MKFA article, Allergy Friendly Snacks for Kids: The Snack Safely Food Guide for more information on allergy-friendly snacks and sweets.
- Gift Credit Cards – Prepaid Visa/Mastercards can be great gifts. These types of gift cards allow the recipient to purchase exactly what he or she wishes from any retailer that accepts Visa or Mastercard!
Bonus 5 Items to Avoid this holiday season:
- Food Baskets – Prepackaged food baskets tend to be stuffed with items that contain multiple allergens in the food items or their ingredients.
- Plushy Toys – Many plush animals contain nut shells and/or soy-based fibers in their stuffing material.
- Crayons, Play Dough, Paints – Many of these items contain wheat, milk or soy in their ingredients.
- Temporary Tattoos, Body Paint and Body Stickers – May contain milk or soy in their ingredients.
- Lotions, Soaps or Bubble Baths – Many of these items contain nuts, soy or milk in their ingredients