Have you heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project that FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) started up last year? It’s a way for everyone to be included while trick-or-treating on Halloween. It can take the truly scary part of Halloween away for those of us with food-allergic children.
Now that Jillian is 10, she knows very well what she can and can’t eat when it comes to candy. She’ll pick out the safe option, if there is one, in a treat bowl, or just skip the house entirely if there’s not. But when she was little, it was much trickier. No pun intended!
Trying to keep unsafe candy out of her hands and out of her mouth when she was 2 or 3??? Yikes!!! At that age, we didn’t do much trick-or-treating, honestly. We had a few very caring, very understanding neighbors who would either ask me what was safe and only buy that, or have me bring over a safe option earlier in the day for them to give her when she came knocking that evening. Three houses and done. We’d go home, and she’d enjoy her few treats (one of which was an awesome Halloween-themed Barbie doll — it wasn’t always candy!).
If the Teal Pumpkin Project was around back then, she could have safely trick-or-treated at far more houses. It’s a fantastic idea, and I hope it spreads like wildfire!
If you’ve got a little one with food allergies, check out my tips for a food allergy-safe Halloween before the big day comes.
What is the Teal Pumpkin Project?
The idea is simple: you provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters and paint a pumpkin teal to place in front of your home to let people know you have an allergy-friendly option. You can (and probably should) include a sign designating your house as an allergy-friendly spot. You don’t have to eliminate giving out candy, either. You can do both! Just keep the allergy-friendly goodies in a separate container to avoid cross-contamination. It’s a win-win!
If more people would embrace the idea of non-food treats for Halloween, wouldn’t it just be better all around? Allergy kids aren’t the only ones who have to be careful. Children with Type 1 diabetes have to be concerned with how much candy they’re eating and making sure it’s correctly accounted for at the end of the night.
Then there’s the fact that it’s CANDY. It should be just a treat, right? I don’t know about you, but the amount of candy my kids bring home after trick-or-treating down one street is astounding! We end up tossing half of it anyway, safe or not. It’s just too much.
Of course, I do think candy has it’s place at Halloween. Filling their bag with yummy goodies is half the excitement, right? But it wouldn’t hurt, not one little bit, if half of those houses offered non-food treats instead.
Some ideas for non-food Halloween treats…
Hello, Dollar Tree!!! I’m looking at you! Squishy eyeballs, spider rings, spooky pencils, stickers, tattoos, crayons, yo-yos… Just head to your local dollar store and stock up! Many of these things come in packs of, well… a LOT for $1, so you can totally stock up for just a few bucks.
Another awesome idea is to give out glow sticks (again, thank you Dollar Tree!). Kids LOVE glow sticks, and you have the added benefit of their parents being able to keep a better eye on them in the dark.
Will you participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year?
I honestly wish I could. In our neighborhood, everyone — and I mean everyone — trick-or-treats down one street in particular, and it ain’t mine. Don’t get me wrong, this street is awesome! Homeowners set up tables at the edge of their driveways to give out goodies. Lots of them dress up and have super spooky decorations all over their yards. There’s even a haunted house and a magic show!
It’s got to be the best trick-or-treating spot anywhere around. Period. We see tons of awesome Halloween-y things and ALL of our friends. But the downside is that no one comes down our street at all. So while we don’t have to buy treats to give out (my friends that live on the trick-or-treating street shock me every year with how many bags of candy they bought… and completely “sold out” of!), there is joy in handing out treats, and I would like to be on that end of things once in a while.
I remember when I was getting close to preteen years, probably about Jillian’s age, I really struggled with what I wanted to do on Halloween night. I knew I only had a couple more years, if that, of dressing up and getting candy. But I also really wanted to stay home and answer the door, to see all the adorable little kids in their costumes and watch their big, bright eyes as they reached into our goody bowl.
I guess being a parent you get a bit of both. I am so lucky I married a guy as goofy as I am, who loves to dress up right along with the kids for trick-or-treating.
And I still get to watch those big, bright eyes grabbing fistfuls of loot, running from house to house. Only now I’m running right with them!
The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT and the Teal Pumpkin Image are trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).