Welcome October…the month that goes bump in the night!
Scary movies, creepy-crawly costumes, and ghost stories fill the air. Yet, among the things that bite, shriek, and lurk in the darkness looms a much more dangerous fright…the fear of an anaphylactic reaction.
Every year, the aftermath of trick or treating breaks my heart. Both of my kids walk in the door with overflowing buckets, but only one gets to keep it that way.
By the time my husband and I weed through what candy is safe for my son’s food allergies, he’s left with only a fraction of what he started with. The rest goes into his sister’s already overflowing bucket (or into dad’s belly). This is the sad reality for many kids that struggle with food related restrictions.
On The Rise!
According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team, “The number of people with a food allergy in America has doubled each of the last decades.” This means that keeping kids safe during a time, such as Halloween, is becoming increasingly difficult.
Though all food allergies pose serious risk, Halloween is particularly spooky for victims of peanut, tree nut, and dairy allergies. This is largely due to the traditional candy selections that line grocery store shelves. The candy bars we hoped to find in our pillowcases and pumpkin buckets as kids, have now become fun sized death nuggets.
But…what if there was a safer way for food allergy kids to trick or treat this year? Well, actually, I’m happy to say there is! Please allow me to introduce you to the Teal Pumpkin Project…
The Teal Pumpkin Project
In 2012, Food Allergy Research and Education adopted the practices of a local food allergy group and created the Teal Pumpkin Project. Participants place a teal pumpkin in front of their house to let others know that food allergy safe options are available during trick-or-treating hours.
Typically, these items are non-food products such as stickers, bubbles, or other favors. However, some houses may offer allergy safe candies. I have done both in the past, but I make sure to leave any food item ingredient labels out for parents to double check. Safety first!
The FARE website has all kinds of great Teal Pumpkin Project information to explore. Included on their website, is an interactive map where you can list your address as a allergy friendly location. This allows local allergy families to track the places that is safest for them to go.
What Else Can I Do?
If you don’t live in an area that hosts community trick-or-treat night, there are still several ways you can participate in keeping kids safe this season.
Instead of passing out items to trick-or-treaters, you can…
- educate yourself on food allergies, including cross contamination.
- spread the news about the Teal Pumpkin Project by sharing the FARE website, along with this post, on social media.
- donate funds to FARE to advance food allergy research.
- raise awareness by purchasing my custom “Teal Is My Favorite Color” merchandise.
- volunteer to send allergy safe snacks to your child’s school costume party.
- host an allergy safe Halloween party.
- donate allergy safe items to local churches, or other organizations, that host Halloween events.
A little effort can make huge difference in the lives of children with food allergies.
One of the most common questions I get asked when telling others about the Teal Pumpkin Project is “what kind of items should I offer?” The answer largely depends on your budget. Some houses offer fun sized candy bars, while others offer full sized. The same can be said for non-food trinkets.
In order to make it easy, I have created a list of my favorite candy alternatives. I listed them from cheapest (think tootsie roll), to the most expensive (think full sized candy bars). Click the pictures to be taken straight to the Amazon product page for easy ordering. Easy, peasy!
Coming in at $.02 per piece, this variety pack offers tattoos, stickers, and stamps. These are great additions to gift bags or craft tables. There’s enough in this package where kids can take more than one. Be the house that says “you can take a couple.”
Who doesn’t love a glow stick? It only takes $.05 a piece to literally light up Halloween night! Added bonus…most kids can’t wait to snap glow sticks. This means that kids become more visible while running door to door.
Am I the only one that thought scholastic fair bookmarks were so much fun? These Halloween book marks are super cute with a super cute price of only $.07 a piece. Did I mention they are also rulers?
I have so many memories of temporary tattoos when I was a kid! As a parent, they’re not my favorite, but my kids still adore them! The price of $.08 a piece makes me dislike them a little bit less.
Yum Earth Suckers
This is one of the acceptable food items I will offer to food allergy kids. No artificial dyes, flavors, gluten, and free from the top 8 allergens. Also, only $.14 a piece!
This is a popular, inexpensive candy alternative. Only $.17 a piece with 25 designs and 4 different colors!
So simple, yet so fun. Both of my kids can entertain themselves with these forever! Coming in at $.21 a piece, slap bracelets are a unique trick or treat addition.
These bouncy balls $.24 a piece, are Halloween themed, AND glow in the dark! I’d say that’s a win, win, win!
I’m not gonna lie…I love the way these $.25 toys feel. And so do my kids. LOL! There weren’t any leftover when we passed them out last year.
Ok…let’s talk about these for a second. I first saw these rings at a friend’s daughter’s campfire birthday party. My friend said that she ordered them as party favors, but MOSTLY because she wanted to be able to see where all the kids were at. I totally stole the idea for trick or treating. Nothing makes me more nervous than kids darting in and out of the streets on Halloween night. P assing these out means trick or treaters are easy to see and MUCH safer! Definitely worth the $.36 a piece price tag!
These books are great for the younger trick or treater. They are smaller sized, easy to take anywhere, and only $.38 a piece.
Pop It Keychains
Pop Its have become super popular in the last few years. These keychains are only $.44 a piece and perfect for backpacks, classroom fidgets, and anxiety relief.
The equivalent of the full sized candy bar, these goody bags are sure to make your trick or treaters’ night! Coming in at $.67 a piece, this option is not realistic for everyone, but a fun option nonetheless!
Talk about next level…can you imagine getting a whole puzzle in your pumpkin bucket? Spoil your trick or treaters with these $.83 a piece goodies.
Slime…another trending trinket for kiddos! These $.90 a piece kits come with individually packed slime, slime toys, and stickers all in one bag.
At $.92 a piece, these are my most expensive recommended alternatives. Great option for kids and adults!
With food related illnesses on the rise, special occasions like Halloween are going to have to adapt.
It truly doesn’t require much money, or effort, to make Halloween accessible for everyone.
Please consider joining the teal team and making this month safer for kiddos like mine!