5 Tips for Buying Allergy-Free Holiday Gifts

If you have any allergy sufferers on your holiday list, you'll need to shop with extra care to be sure that your holiday gift doesn't trigger their symptoms or make them sick.

Many popular gifts like food, clothing, scented bath products, and stuffed animals can all pose a risk for people with allergies. What one person can tolerate may be dangerous for someone else. Therefore, it's important to find out what exactly is safe for your recipient.

Five Holiday Ideas for Allergy Sufferers

When in doubt on what to buy for the allergy sufferers you love, leave out these common holiday gifts. Here are some safer alternatives:

1. Give in good taste. When your recipient suffers from food allergies, it's important to steer clear of packaged candies and snacks. If you have your heart set on giving an edible gift, be sure you know which allergens are a problem such as gluten, nuts, or eggs, and look for special items that are free from these ingredients. Many health food stores and websites have a section of safe snacks for people with common food allergies and a collection of these can be a welcome treat.

2. Get all warm and fuzzy. Stuffed animals are a popular gift for children and adults who are young at heart. But, if the person you're buying for has dust mite allergies or asthma, this could make them cough or sneeze. Look for hypoallergenic options only.

3. Use common scents.  You may love the smell of scented candles, perfumes, soaps, and other bath products. But for people with allergies or eczema, these products can set their sensitive systems into action. Avoid scented items at all costs and instead give a gift card to your recipient's favorite restaurant or store.

4. Come clean. Scarves, gloves, and sweaters are common gifts to put on your "no" list. That's because fabrics like angora, wool, and cashmere can make some people break out or have a more severe type of allergic reaction. A better choice for people with strong sensitivities would be a range of allergy-proofing products like a hypoallergenic mattress cover, dye-free detergents, and other allergen-reducing products. You can find these at many health food stores and online allergy specialty shops. Or, better yet, hire a cleaning service that uses allergy-safe products to do a day's work at the recipient's house.

5. Generosity pays off. Pretty holiday decorations and ornaments can be easy to buy and so appealing, but for people with indoor allergies, they can also collect dust and mold. Rather than splurging on such items that serve no practical purpose and can actually make the recipient's allergy symptoms worse, consider investing your money on a good cause. You can make a donation to an advocacy or research organization, or sponsor a child in the recipient's name. Remember that the impact of these types of gifts can go a long way.


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"Allergy and Asthma News: Prepare for Allergy and Asthma-Safe Holidays." AllergyandAsthmarelief.org. American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. 29 Sept. 2010. Web. 25 Oct. 2010.

"Topic of the Month - November - Coping With Allergies and Asthma During the Holidays." American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. AAAAI, 1 Nov. 2007. Web. 19 Oct. 2010.