Costumes, decorations, and parties are all part of the Halloween fun, but let’s face it: The real reason that Halloween is candy. However if you’re a kid with food allergies, that’s also the reason that Halloween can be a big letdown.
Most years, my daughter who has peanut and tree nut allergies has to donate or toss nearly 90 percent of her loot. It’s a total bummer.
However, with a little thought and planning, Halloween can be fun for all. Which is why I’m happy to share these two ways to make trick-or-treating more fun—and safer—for kids with food allergies.
The Teal Pumpkin Project
Photo: @emmymhill on Instagram
If you don’t yet know the The Teal Pumpkin Project, it launched as a national campaign by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) back in 2014, and is a great way to make Halloween safer for all kids — all while keeping treats in the equation. Just, the non-food kind.
To show trick-or-treaters that you’re an allergy-friendly house, place a teal pumpkin near your front door (you can paint one or buy a foam teal pumpkin that you can reuse annually), then display a free printable Teal Pumpkin Project sign from FARE on your door to let kids know you’ll have a separate container filled with non-food treats for allergen-free kids.
Need inspiration? Check out our roundup of cool food-free Halloween treat ideas! And remember, even kids without allergies can stand to get a few non-candy treats. It’s not like there won’t be enough chocolate in their bags. And hey, sometimes they even like those spider rings and temporary tattoos better.
The Switch Witch
Even with more families participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project, it’s inevitable that allergen-free kids will get lots of candy from trick-or-treating that they can’t eat. Instead of throwing all that candy away, use The Switch Witch to trade their candy in for a toy.
The Switch Witch package comes with a doll and a book that tells the tale of a witch who needs candy to make her broom fly. On Halloween night, when your kids are done trick-or-treating, you sort through the candy and pick out all of the unsafe treats. Leave them in a bag with a note for the Switch Witch, and while the kids are sleeping, she’ll take the bag of candy and leave a toy in its place.
(Then, you can find lots of places to donate the candy to a good cause.)
Like the Elf on the Shelf, you can certainly use The Switch Witch doll to try to instill good behavior before the holiday; but I think that the candy-for-toy aspect on its own makes it a cool addition to Halloween, especially for younger kids.
And, of course, you don’t have to be a family with food allergies to take advantage of this smart trade. Especially if you’re in a neighborhood where kids come home with a three-pillowcase haul of Mini Snickers and Jolly Ranchers. But I particularly love how the Switch Witch turns what can be a disappointing situation for kids with food allergies into something really fun.
Also, be sure to read our comprehensive post on 5 important tips for making Halloween safe for kids with allergies.