It’s October, the time when the minds of little ones (and not-so-little ones) turn to the fun and festivities of Halloween. Whether Halloween parties at school, trick-or-treating with friends, or doing Trunk-n-Treat/Harvest Festival at a local church, it’s a time of costumes, fun, games, and most importantly… CANDY!
I loved Halloween as a kid. I loved dressing up, carving pumpkins, getting candy, rummaging through it with my sister to find our favorites… it was the best. As I got older, I fell out with Halloween for a while, due in large part to seeing the way some of the teenagers in our area would use it as a chance to snatch candy bags from kids and do other heinous pranks. As a parent, though, as I see the excitement on my kids’ faces, I have a renewed fondness for the holiday. I still love carving pumpkins, and taking the kids trick-or-treating is always so much fun.
For Reese, though, and for many like him, Halloween has a darker, much more dangerous side lurking around every cobweb-covered bush, behind every overplayed witch-smashed-into-the-front-door decoration, next to every jack-o-lantern. Those candies they are so excited to get could be deadly due to their food allergies. Fortunately, as awareness is spreading, Halloween is becoming safer for our food allergy kids, thanks to the Teal Pumpkin Project.
What is the Teal Pumpkin Project?
The Teal Pumpkin project was started by FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) in 2014. The idea is simple: provide a safe and fun Halloween for kids with food allergies (and other food restrictions). It is super easy to participate. If you can provide non-food treats for kids who cannot have candy, you set out a teal pumpkin. You can either paint a pumpkin teal, or you can find them at stores (Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, Walmart… just look around). Then simply ask your trick-or-treaters if they want a food or non-food treat. Some might even be carrying a teal pumpkin themselves.
What can I give if not candy?
There are so many options! Besides, no one said you can’t give candy… just have an allergy-friendly option, too. Last year, my son was given a fun Halloween pencil, some stickers, some toy teeth… the only limit is your imagination (and maybe your budget – the dollar store is a great place to start!) Here are just a few suggestions:
- Glow bracelets/glow sticks
- Halloween stickers
- Halloween rings
- Plastic vampire teeth
- Holiday pencils and/or fun erasers
- Kazoos or other noisemakers (hey, they’re going home later… you don’t have to deal with the noise!)
(Play-doh is fun, but not a good idea for Teal Pumpkin trick-or-treating; it contains wheat, which is a big time allergen for some kids.)
I know, you might think that getting something other than candy is a little lame, but trust me, when Reese got a cool pencil and vampire teeth last year, his sisters were eyeing his bucket pretty intensely! It turns out kids really like stuff, whether is edible or not.
Fun for all
Unfortunately, there are people who get very defensive, seeing the Teal Pumpkin Project as an attack on tradition, or that they have to change what they are doing just because of a few kids. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It is an inclusion of kids with food restrictions, not an exclusion of those who don’t have them. And it’s completely optional! Simply put, the teal pumpkin means that when my kids go trick-or-treating, my girls get candy and my son gets a fun, non-food treat. It’s a win-win!
Find out more at http://www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/teal-pumpkin-project. They have several ideas to make Halloween safe and fun for kids with food allergies.