If you’re taking part in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year, you’re doing your part to raise awareness about food allergies. You’re also making Halloween more enjoyable for the kids who may otherwise feel left out!
Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project, a national campaign from Food Allergy Research & Education, means you’re choosing to provide “treats” that are free of allergens when kids come calling in their costumes. Unfortunately, stores don’t offer many creative options for people who are looking for noncandy treats. But we do!
First: What to Avoid
There are eight main allergens to be aware of: milk, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, eggs, wheat, fish, and shellfish.
Completely avoiding them can be difficult, because even foods without them are sometimes made in facilities where other products with these ingredients are processed (this is something families with food allergies have to deal with every day). Err on the side of safety, and if you have any doubt about the presence of these allergens, choose something else.
1. Dollar Store Finds
The dollar store can be a great place to stock up on noncandy treats. You’ll often find holiday-themed stickers, pencils, notebooks, and small toys. Try bouncy balls, bubble makers, noisemakers, and vampire fangs!
2. Jack-O’-Lantern Oranges
Passing out healthy treats on Halloween serves two purposes. If they’re allergen-free, the kids will be happy, and because they’re good for them, the parents will be happy too! Try this idea from Becoming a Bentoholic: Use a Sharpie to draw jack-o’-lantern faces on the lids of single-serving mandarin orange containers!
3. Hot Drinks
At the end of October, it starts getting pretty chilly in most areas, and depending on where you live, Halloween night could have kids bundled up with their coats on over their costumes. Send them home with packets of apple cider or hot chocolate mix. Just make sure to read the labels! Some hot cocoa has powdered milk inside.
4. Caramel Apples
They’re a fall classic and have none of the big eight allergens. Caramel apples are still a sweet treat, but they are largely safe for kids with allergies. Do check to confirm they were not made in a place that used any type of nut in production.
5. Treat Bags
Rather than throwing your nonfood treats in a big bowl for kids to grab, take some time to make goodie bags. All you need is brown paper lunch bags and construction paper. Make the bags into owls, scarecrows, and other Halloween-themed faces, and fill them with your dollar store finds!
6. Snack Bags of Carrot Sticks
You may not win any popularity awards passing out vegetables, but as far as veggies go, mini packs of carrots are often well-tolerated by children. Buy individual serving bags of small carrots to keep everything clean and sterile.
7. Dried Fruit Kabobs
Dried fruit is brightly colored and sweet and without the dangers of mystery ingredient candies. Choose tropical fruits and skewer them on wooden kabobs. Wrap in cellophane bags — orange if you can find them — and tie off with black and orange string. If you prefer, buy small boxes of raisins or craisins for an easy, healthy option.
8. Craft Kits
Kids like being crafty and creative. Get those juices flowing by passing out small bead and string jewelry-making sets. Buy in bulk and then give each child enough beads to make a necklace or bracelet.
Get creative! Your ability to make trick-or-treaters smile on Halloween does not depend on how much candy you give them. There are many allergen-free ideas out there. By being creative and inclusive, you’re sure to be a hit on your block.