Alternatives to Giving Candy at Halloween (The Teal Pumpkin Project)
The Teal Pumpkin Project
In 2014, the Teal Pumpkin Project was launched by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) as a way for people to offer non-food items or allergy-safe treats to children with food allergies. By putting a teal-coloured pumpkin or Teal Pumpkin sign outside your home, you can let trick-or-treaters know you offer safe alternatives.
(Note: FARE offers a big variety of signs, posters, flyers, and other resources you can download and print up).
Let the Fun Begin!
As wonderful as that sounds, the first reaction to the concept of the Teal Pumpkin Project is often:
"What am I supposed to give instead?"
This is where the real fun begins for those who stay at home to hand out the treats. Whether you do the "by the handful" method or give out treat bags, you can be creative!
I took this question online to Facebook to find out what others have given as non-food and allergy-free treats at Halloween. Here are some great ideas to get you started ...
Where to Start
Low-cost Halloween themed items can be found at dollar stores, party supply shops, and even online.
You don't have to stay confined to the Halloween section, though. If you browse a bit, you're sure to come up with some great ideas.
Halloween themed party favors are always a big hit with kids, because they're so much fun! Some favorites that were suggested are:
- Rubber snakes, spiders, and bugs;
- Spider and bat rings;
- Pendants and necklaces;
- Slap and stretch bracelets;
- Clip-on spiders;
- Mini rats and bats;
- Zombie eye patches; and
- Toy fangs and witch fingers.
Fun & Smart!
Another popular suggestion is glow in the dark ... well - anything!
- Glow sticks;
- Bracelets; and
Along the same lines are light-up LED trinkets, such as:
- Mini and key chain flashlights;
- Pendants; and
- Rings and necklaces.
Kids love these items which can be used right away to keep them safe during their evening romp.
Toys & Games
The party and toy sections are obviously the best place for stocking up. Top suggestions include:
- Mini games, puzzles, and mazes;
- Small toys, figures, or cars;
- Mini slinkies and bouncy balls;
- Noisemakers and whistles;
- Mini containers of molding clay, play doh, or slime;
- Bubbles; and
- Playing cards and travel games.
Themed or Not, It's All Good!
You'll be able to find some of these suggestions with a Halloween theme, but even if you can only find generic versions, they'll still be appreciated. If you decided to make treat bags, you can always mix them together, so there's some of each in every bag.
- Pens and pencils;
- Crayons and markers;
- Small notepads;
- Pencil toppers and erasers
- Mini books;
- Activity pads or sheets;
- Stickers and rub-on tattoos;
- Sticky toys (ie. slap hands);
- Squeeze balls; and
While not as cost efficient, it is getting easier to find food options that are gluten-free, peanut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. While gathering feedback on Facebook, some commenters suggested the follow items for those who can't afford specialty food items:
- Drink boxes;
- Microwave popcorn (unpopped and still in wrapper); and
If you're a craftsy person, there are many little things you can make quickly and with little cash investment. You can even make a fun day of it and have your own little ghouls help! Here are some of my suggestions:
- Halloween themed bookmarks can be made from printed images or hand-designed and coloured.
- Pompom critters like bats, spiders, and centipedes can be made from black pom-poms, black pipe-cleaners, googly eyes, felt (for the bat wings) and glue. Once made, you can give them as is or make them into necklaces, pencil toppers, and magnets. You could also glue them onto clothes pins that have been painted black, so trick-or-treaters can clip them just about anywhere.
- Mummies made from wrapped yard and googly eyes,
- Shrunken heads made by painting the faces on large beads and looping a black ribbon through the holes, so they can be hung.
What's Your Favourite??
What is/was your favourite treat to get on Halloween?
Fun Suggestion for Parents of Kids with Allergies
Day-After-Halloween: For parents of children with allergies, one mom from my Facebook research suggested trading the "unsafe" candy your children receive for a handmade coupon or store gift certificate. Taking a trip to a store where your children can pick out their own "treats" can make the Day-After-Halloween a whole new tradition of fun!
Switch Witch: Another suggested having your child leave their candy out for the Switch Witch to replace with toys. The Tooth Fairy may have competition!!
Tips to Make Halloween Fun & Inclusive
Here are a few tips to help things go smoothly on the big night:
- Be aware that some non-food items still contain allergens, such as wheat in molding clay and latex in balloons.
- Keep regular food treats separate from allergy-free and non-food treats.
- Let trick-or-treaters choose what they would like or ask if they would prefer candy or a non-food item.
- Be sure to still have lots of candies for children without allergies and give them the option for non-food items, as well.
- Avoid giving religious items and materials.
Most importantly: Have Fun!
© 2015 Rosa Marchisella