If you're reading this blog, you know that we have food allergies in our house.
Lots of food allergies.
Okay, maybe not THAT many food allergies. But it's enough to throw a damper on anyone's candy-tabulous, sugarlicious, Trick or Treat-a-thon. At this point, my kids are starting to outgrow the treats, and too sophisticated for the tricks. We geek out on costumes, we pull out a few favorite movies, like The Great Pumpkin, and we have our own treats. (Okay, so Bumblebee is still young enough to trick or treat a little bit, and Penguin might sneak out as well. If her friends are going in a group, she's been left out enough.) But the main focus of the night is no longer the loot. It's the fun.
However, there is a new trend that would have made the early days so. much. easier.
It's called the Teal Pumpkin Project. It's about allergy awareness, but it's so much cooler than some of the allergy aware projects I've seen in the past. The main concept is that people offering allergy friendly fare put a teal pumpkin out front. That way, parents of kids with dietary restrictions can scope out the safe houses and plan their route accordingly.
It doesn't stop there though. My favorite part of this project is that it wants to include all kids with dietary restrictions for any reason. So...the teal pumpkin doesn't just mean allergy friendly candy. (Because who knows what kids might be allergic to? Beet coloring, yellow #5, corn syrup, chocolate...Or candy that is typically safe might not be safe in treat sized packages due to the way holiday candy is processed.)
Teal pumpkins on the front porch mean that this house offers NON FOOD TREATS.
That's right. Those pencils and toothbrushes that teens wearing fangs and a five o'clock shadow spurn? Kids with food allergies love 'em...they get to actually keep those treats. They also like whistles, bubbles, mardi gras beads, glow sticks, and anything you find in the party store. Used books can be a hit too...some libraries offer 'Friends of..." booksales where you stuff a bag with as many picture books and easy readers (and whatever else) that you want for only a few dollars. Offer them up at Halloween, and then donate the leftovers to the next sale...you'll have saved candy money and maybe even inspired a few kids to read.
You can put out a teal pumpkin and still offer candy. Just make sure that there are also non food treats.
If you don't want to start this year, there's another benefit to the whole non-food treat thing...they won't grow moldy in storage. So stock up in November and stuff your extras away with the Halloween decorations. And next year...put out a teal pumpkin or two. Most kids won't know or care, they'll choose whatever they want and go on their way. But the few who do need to be cautious, will appreciate that little plastic toy in ways you can't begin to believe. Because it's a way they can be included without noticing that they're different. :-)
Which means that the most stressful, tear inducing holiday for many food allergy kids can be happy again.