Erica Ehm Exposed!


Paint the Town Red this Halloween

Make it a Family Tradition

by: Erica Ehm

Halloween is my family's absolute favorite time of year. With two theatrical kids who dress up in quirky costumes on a weekly basis, Halloween is HUGE in our home. 

My kids have already designed their Halloween costumes for this year. My daughter is wearing a crazy pink dress she found at a flea market this summer. My son is reprising his portrayal of The Artful Dodger for the 2nd year. 

Because Halloween is so big for us, we've created some unique family traditions through the years.

Value Village Scrimmage

At least two months before Halloween my kids are well into costume planning. Rather than buy pre-made costumes, we head to second hand shops or flea markets to find inexpensive pieces that can be turned into a costume. Last year my daughter was the Corpse Bride and wore an old white negligee from Value Village. My son's Dodger costume was made from an old suit which we cut the arms off of. The process of making the costumes is almost, but not quite, as much fun of wearing it the night of.

Family Pumpkin Carving Competition

For the last several years it's been boys against girls to see who can carve the best pumpkin. Each team sequesters itself somewhere in the house and spends a couple of hours carving a masterpiece. Then we Tweet and Facebook out the photos and let our social media friends pick their fave. My daughter and I haven't won yet (we were robbed) against my husband and son, but this year we are going to out carve the guys. 

Cemetary Scenerio

Almost as fun as making our costumes is doing up our lawn to resemble a Tim Burton style graveyard. Every year each of the kids is allowed to buy one terrifying prop to add to our scary collection of gravestones and ghouls. One full day is spent figuring out frightening scenerios to scare and impress our neighbours.

Buy Peanut-free Candy

My daughter has severe allergies to all nuts, so I am so acutely aware of how awful it is for kids with food allergies to receive candy they can't eat. According to Anaphylaxis Canada, peanut allergies affect about two in 100 children and half of Canadians know someone with a serious food allergy ( It’s easy to make Halloween safer for everyone involved - including kids and their family and friends - by making the right choices. I cannot tell you the relief I experienced when I discovered the iconic big red box of assorted chocolates from Nestlé which are proudly made in a peanut-free facility a few years ago. The assortment of bite-sized Aero, Smarties, Kit Kit and Coffee Crisp is what we hand out every Halloween, and it's what we hope our daughter gets when she empties her bag after her night of trick or treating. It's safe and yummy (and I like to eat the Coffee Crisps).

Operation Protect Jessie

Sadly, many of our neighbours haven't clued in to the fact that so many kids have allergies. So my son came up with a plan to protect his little sister. When they head out for a night of trick or treating, he announces to each homeowner that his little sister (indicates to cute little girl beside him) has severe allergies and asks if they have any nut-free treats. Every year, I see the nervous glances from people who chose to hand out Reeses Peanut Butter Cups or some other potentially harmful snack, as they run back to their kitchen to see if they have anything appropriate. 

Once both kids' bags are filled, we head home and dump out all their sweets. Together we go through both bags to find any dangerous goodies that may contain traces of nuts. This is the stressful part, because many companies don't include the ingredients on bite-sized candies. Any candy that can make my daughter sick goes into my son's pile. He counts out an equal number of nut-free options from his bag so they both end up with the same amount of candy. Sweet, huh?

But it makes me sad. Why can't people be more sensitive to the growing number of kids with severe allergies? Which leads me to our newest Halloween tradition which I hope you will adopt at your home too...

Paint Your Town Red to Win!

I am so proud to be part of a campaign with Nestlé. This year, we're asking you to start a new family tradition: Paint the Town Red by purchasing Nestlé's Assorted snack size bars in the iconic red box and placing the box in your window to let families know you are giving out Halloween Treats made in a peanut-free facility. Then, you can click here to make a pledge that you will continue to provide peanut-free treats made in a peanut free facility on Halloween. This pledge is part of our contest to win a supply of Nestlé Assorted snack size bars made in a peanut-free facility for your street for Halloween. Talk about a win/win situation. You give away great candy, allergic kids are safe and up to 50 houses on your street will be Painting the Town Red because of you.

On behalf of my daughter, and all the other kids who need to be safe every Halloween, thank you!