Have you heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project? Teal pumpkins were inspired by the allergy awareness activities run by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee. This is now a fantastic project by FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) to create an inclusive, allergy friendly Halloween celebration. One where kids (and adults!) with food allergies can join in the fun safely. Find out more about teal pumpkins and other ways to help your family have an allergy friendly Halloween.
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Allergy awareness at Halloween
Growing up in Australia we never celebrated Halloween the same way as in the US. For a start, it’s spring here. Pumpkins aren’t even in season!
However, Halloween is starting to become more and more popular. The shops are full of costumes and candy. And I have kids who never say no to free treats!
One of them has multiple food allergies. We have great fun trick or treating in our local neighbourhood and yes, he gets lots of treats he just can’t eat. Chocolate in particular. Once a kind hearted person even handed out a nut filled health food bar (I think that house had run out of goodies and raided the pantry!).
We have a deal though. Anything he gets that he can’t eat, we take home and swap for something safe. This is the same deal we have for birthday party loot bags. And of course we take two EpiPens with us as well (read about why we always take two here).
Teal pumpkins aren’t a big thing in Australia…. yet! I think it is a wonderful idea. Hopefully the increasing popularity of teal themed decorations and allergy friendly Halloween options will inspire more of us to get involved.
Teal pumpkin decorations
I always have the best intentions when it comes to being organised and making my own decorations for parties and celebrations. Unfortunately I usually run out of time. This post includes links to some handy free printables and also links to lots of teal pumpkin themed ideas on Amazon, in case you are strapped for time like me. But they also can give the crafty ones amongst us some DIY ideas.
Pumpkins and signs
If you are planning an allergy friendly Halloween this year, first you need to make sure you let everyone know that your home is an allergy friendly place to trick or treat.
The best way is to place a teal pumpkin out the front of your home. If you are crafty, why not spray paint your own pumpkin?
Not everyone knows what the teal pumpkin means, so you could also make (or download) a sign or decorate a chalkboard announcing that you have non-food treats to share.
FARE also has a range of free printable signs and flyers on its website here. Or this Allergy Friendly Treats teal pumpkin garden flag would do the trick to announce that you have non food treats available.
You can also print off some flyers from FARE’s website to tell your neighbours about the significance of the teal pumpkin. Or make your own friendly note.
Etsy has a great range teal pumpkin themed printables too. I love this “trinket instead of a treat” printable sign by TidyLadyPrintables.
More teal decorations
If you want to go all out on the teal pumpkin theme, try some of these decorations to add to your spooky welcome:
- If you don’t have the time (or inclination!) to paint your own pumpkin, try a resin teal pumpkin decoration for the front porch, mantle or dining table. It won’t go bad and you can use it again next year;
- Teal, orange and black balloons, paper garlands or lanterns would fit the teal theme;
- Fill some teal pumpkin leaf bags to leave in the front yard (tidy up the garden at the same time as decorating!);
- Decorate with some Trick or Trinket cut out teal pumpkin decorations: these would be perfect for Halloween party decorating, even if you are staying in this year;
- Blow up a Giant inflatable teal pumpkin – i love this idea as it would be easy to store away for next Halloween.
Allergy aware and non-food treats
It is possible to cater to trick or treaters with allergies by providing treats and candy free of the top allergens. The supermarket shelves are full of milk, egg, nut and gluten free options. But it is hard to cater to everyone’s allergies and also hard for people to know if they can trust your judgement. I know that as a parent I’d be wary unless the treats are individually wrapped with an ingredient list.
Being inclusive is easy if you decide to offer non-food treats as well. And after Covid-19 it is a great option anyway, as everyone is very aware of hand hygiene and sharing food.
Some great ideas for Halloween themed non-food goodies are:
- Halloween themed pencils or erasers;
- Spooky rubber ducks – I love the little ghost and vampire ducks;
- Halloween themed stickers;
- Miniature creepy crawlies, spiders and snakes;
- Halloween wind up toys including these walking pumpkins, eyeballs, ghosts and more.I am definitely going to get some of these. We have a little army of Christmas themed ones already. They are great fun to race across the dinner table!
Or Amazon has some handy bulk packs of assorted Halloween themed non-food party favours.
Just don’t forget to watch for allergens in the non-food treats as well. For example, some modelling clay has wheat in it, and skip the latex balloons (for more information about balloons. see our post about latex allergy). It’s also a good idea to check that your Halloween trinkets are safe for small children, so don’t hand out anything that might be a choking hazard to those little trick or treaters under 3.
Switching treats for a non food gift
Until more families get on board with allergy-friendly treats at Halloween, it’s very likely your child will receive some treats that aren’t safe for them to eat. Instead of missing out, many parents will let their child accept a treat – preferably wrapped – and then swap it for something safe when they get home.
Another idea that is becoming more popular is the Switch Witch. Think Elf on a Shelf. but for Halloween instead. The Switch Witch story encourages children to switch some of their Halloween candy for a gift instead. It’s a great way to manage Halloween treats for kids with food allergies.
Your allergy friendly Halloween might be different this year
Halloween celebrations have changed a little since Covid-19. After a period where trick or treating may not have been possible, or was restricted, many people have changed the way they celebrate. Trick or treating may be more local and treats now tend to be individually wrapped for health reasons. This is really positive for kids with food allergies. Other families are opting for Halloween gatherings at home.
If you can’t get involved in trick or treating, I hope you will still think about Halloween decorating with a touch of teal to promote allergy awareness. Whether this is your front porch or your dinner table.
More allergy friendly Halloween ideas
For those of you celebrating at home, why not make some spooky treats to get into the Halloween spirit? Try our quick and easy kid-friendly recipe for spooky Halloween ghost pretzels.
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