Halloween can be an extremely stressful time for families with food allergies. Many of the most popular candies handed out to trick-or-treaters contain common allergens like peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, and wheat, and some may have cross-contamination or unclear labels. That’s why I love the Teal Pumpkin Project, a worldwide movement to create a safer and more inclusive Halloween for all kids. Plus, it’s fun to see the kids’ faces light up when they get a cool non-food treat!
What is the Teal Pumpkin Project?
The Teal Pumpkin Project is simple: you just place a teal pumpkin on your doorstep to show that you have non-food treats available. The video above has several ideas on what to hand out instead of candy. This way, kids with food allergies or other conditions that prevent them from eating candy can still enjoy trick-or-treating without risking a reaction that could send them to the hospital.
Spread the word
- Add your home to the Teal Pumpkin Project Map to make it easier for food allergy families to find you.
- Send out a text or make a post in your neighborhood group to announce you’re participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project.
- Share a social media post with the hashtag #tealpumpkinproject or #tealpumpkin hashtags.
How to celebrate safely
If you want to join the Teal Pumpkin Project this year, here are some tips to get you started:
- Get a teal pumpkin. You can either buy one online or at a local store, or paint your own with teal acrylic paint. You can also print out a free sign or poster from the Teal Pumpkin Project website and display it on your door or window.
- Stock up on non-food treats. You can find them at dollar stores, party supply stores, or online. Some popular options are glow bracelets, bubbles, bouncy balls, bookmarks, crayons, and temporary tattoos. Avoid items that contain latex or have sharp edges. Kawaii Slime is a customizable option for kids to have fun or receive a monthly subscription. CVS partnered with Food Allergy Research and Education to feature safe food-free items in designated sections of the stores. I purchased my teal pumpkin at Target in the holiday section.
- Keep the non-food treats in a separate bowl and a seperate area from the candy. This will prevent any confusion or cross-contamination. You can also label the bowls clearly with “food” and “non-food” stickers or signs.
- Ask trick-or-treaters if they have any food allergies or prefer a non-food treat. Some kids may not know about the Teal Pumpkin Project or maybe too shy to ask for a non-food treat. By offering them a choice, you are showing them that you care and respect their needs.
Share my Teal Pumpkin Project Interviews
Thanks to my close connections with Atlanta News First, they invited me to share suggested food-free treats with their morning show audience. Watch my interview explaining The Teal Pumpkin Project.