If you know a child with food allergies, the Teal Pumpkin Project may already be familiar to you. If not, let me give you the run-down. It is quickly growing as a way for children who have food allergies to easily identify a house that offers allergy safe treats on Halloween night. As the mother of a child with food allergies (and years of exclusion under my belt), I can tell you that it’s a wonderful way to help include these children who often feel excluded from ‘regular’ activities.
Sound good? And what do you have to do? It’s so easy. You’ll need a teal pumpkin to light the way! I found these lovely Blue LED Pumpkins (above) at Pier 1 that are just perfect. They’re beautiful and made of glass, so you can use them year after year.
Another idea I like well is to use Blue Battery Powered Tealights inside Lanterns, regular or white pumpkins or ceramic pumpkin tealight holders. You’ll need a teal pumpkin of some sort, but they can be hard to see when it’s dark. Using blue illumination in a regular pumpkin is a great way for kids to see that your house has something just for them.
Wondering what color paint works on an actual pumpkin that you can use for this project? I love Krylon’s Chalky Finish in Tidal Blue. Michael’s has it for $10.99 and they also currently have a coupon to save 50% on a regular priced item. That makes it $5.49 a can and the best price around. Use the code TRICKORTREAT if you’re shopping online.
Tip: Make it extra special with a sparkly finish coat of Krylon Glitter Spray in Shimmering Silver. So pretty.
You can also use craft pumpkins, too.
Oriental Trading has ceramic pumpkins you can paint. <— Too late to ship now. If you live in a weather stable area (I don’t!), pick up some styrofoam pumpkins at Michael’s or Dollar Tree and spray paint them. They’re very inexpensive.
I love this particular paint anyway because teal is one of the most popular colors around right now. So is Annie Sloan chalk paint. Krylon married the two and simplified the process in an easy-to-use spray can. I’m all about making things easier because I’m ridiculously craft challenged. You can’t screw up Krylon and it’s super quick. Trust me. So, in addition to making teal pumpkins, you can use this to make all sorts of nifty accent pieces around your house.
For inspiration: Use the remaining paint on lamp bases, wicker chairs, mason jars, dining chairs or accent tables.
Because teal pumpkins can be hard to see, print and hang a free Teal Pumpkin Project sign from F.A.R.E. indicating that you have non-food treats available at your house. There are also signs on Etsy along with tees, bracelets, and other items dedicated to the project.
Now for the goodies! Things like small toys and games you can purchase in multi-packs at Dollar Tree
or Oriental Trading are perfect. It’s best to stick with non-food items as one child may have a milk allergy while another may be allergic to peanuts. It’s too difficult to find a treat that’s safe for everyone. How cute are these Candy Corn Bubbles? Oh, get out. There are more themed bubbles, too, like Halloween character bottles (witch, ghost, etc.) and some Witch’s Potion. They even have teal. Glow sticks, stickers, pencils, erasers, and spider rings are some other ideas.
And if you’re planning to pass out candy in addition to non-food treats, keep your eye out for the Teal Pumpkin Mike and Ike Halloween Variety Pack at Target that includes candy AND pencils and erasers. These aren’t safe for everyone, but they will be for many. Personally, I love the effort being made by a corporation to reach out to allergic kids.
Now, a very serious message from someone who understands this very well: Me.
I’d also like to ask that if you’ll be handing out other candy items, please fill a bowl with the non-food items separately. (If you use Mike & Ike, you may as well dump the included non-candy items into your candy bowl. They’re contaminated, from my perspective.) Do not mix food and non-food treats in one bowl. You’ll cross-contaminate the non-food treats. Also, if you’re handing out candy, do not hand the non-food treats to the allergic children. Allow them to reach into the bowl to pick up their treat. If you do it, you likely have residue on your hand from the candy that will transfer to the non-food item and cross-contaminate it. Only touch the bowl exterior and do not touch the contents at all once you start handing out candy unless you wash your hands thoroughly immediately prior to touching the non-food candy. Go an extra step and don’t even set them on a table next to each other or near other food items.
Yes, this is very, very serious. My motto has always been: Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Invisible residue is the most insidious and dangerous part of having a child with food allergies. It is THE source of the greatest amount of anxiety for these families. Fear of the unknown had previously been thought of a a somewhat abstract origin of anxiety. Food allergies have legitimized it. And it’s paralyzing. Halloween can be terrifying. And even the best intentions can present a risk. Please provide safe treats for these children and do it in the safest way possible. Last year, an ambulance came down the street while we were out with our kids. I stood in horror as I watched it creep down the road because there were kids lining the street. Meanwhile, precious minutes ticked by. I have no idea what happened, of course, but my first thought was, “Someone has had a reaction to candy.” Let’s do our best, together, to help prevent as many of these incidents as possible. Paint a teal pumpkin. Print a sign. Buy non-food treats. Keep them separate from e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, including you, if you’re passing out candy. All you have to do now is prepare to be a part of making great memories for ALL kids!
Did I miss something? Have something to add? Let me know! I love hearing from you! email@example.com