For most kids, the biggest decision they have to make is which of the approximately 9,431 pieces of candy in their trick or treat bag they’re going to eat first. But for kids with allergies or diabetes (and their parents) things are a lot more complicated. Fears of reactions, illness and cross contamination make Halloween more stressful than it is fun. That’s why, FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) launched the Teal Pumpkin Project to help families who manage food allergies find safe locations for their kids to participate in the trick-or-treat fun.
Want to join in? It’s easy. Just put a teal pumpkin on your doorstep on Halloween to indicate that you have non-food treats available. No need to break out the craft supplies (unless you want to), just print a picture and post it in your window. Then spread the word and inspire your friends to participate.
Don’t know what sorts of non-food items to hand out? Anything will do – pencils, erasers, small bottles of bubbles, tattoos, stickers, mini playdough containers, anything you would normally find in a party favor bag (or in your dentist’s prize box!) is fair game.
Want to get in the spirit of the season? Places like Michael’s, Five Below, Party City and Target have tchotchkes like plastic fangs or glow in the dark fingers, eyeball rings or goofy glasses.
Need more ideas? How about:
Keychains – emojis have had surprising staying power with the elementary school set. But don’t be surprised if the kids take forever to decide which keychain to choose.
Glow Everything – Sticks, Necklaces, rings, flashing rings – they’ll all be big hits. Extra points for the boost in the safety factor.
Mini Craft Kits – Pro Tip: The Creatology line at Michael’s is half off right now.
Mini puzzlers – If sneaking a little education into a game is wrong, we don’t want to be right.
Lego Bricks – What a terrific idea – a small baggie of a few random Lego bricks will make almost any kid smile!
Comic Books – This one is probably more for the full-sized candy bar crowd. But a google search for cheap comic books in bulk did turn up a Groupon and you gotta admit, this is a great idea.
Lottery Scratch Offs – Another idea for the big spenders in the group. Warning: You’ll have to keep a close eye on who comes to your door. It’s a good bet you’ll have double dippers once their parents realized what you’ve got in your treat bucket.
And if you're the snack parent for the classroom Halloween bash? The best plan is the check with the parents to find out which snacks and treats they feel comfortable with their kids eating. It’s tricky because each allergy and case is different. So for some kids, it’s just better to avoid all food items. But a few that might be safe, or at least safer include:
Bags of Chips or Pretzels – Always a hit, especially with the tween and teen boys in the group
Popcorn – If you’re feeling really festive, rent a popcorn machine and hand out hot snacks to weary travelers. Parents and kids will all be grateful.
Made Good – These treats are made in a dedicated facility free from the most common allergens. And they’ve made their granola bars snack sized for Halloween!
Rice Krispie Treats – these are great for kids who are avoiding gluten and there are a ton of videos online that show how to turn these treats into something special for the holidays.
Divvies – These cupcakes and cookies are so good even kids who don’t manage allergies will want them.
Other ideas: Goldfish, Pirate Booty/Smart Food, Skittles, Fun Dip, Smarties
Listen, we know this is just one extra thing you have to add to an already long to-do list before the big day (don’t forget to find that fake blood and the purple hairspray) but think about how much it will mean to the kids. And isn’t it funny how when you do something to help someone else, it makes the holiday even more festive? Happy Halloween!