We are big fans of Halloween.  I have wonderful memories of Trick-or-Treating as a child. As an adult, I always enjoy being the house that kids come back to each year because they remembered our treats from previous years.

Needless to say, our treats are usually unconventional.  Our oldest child was never a fan of candy. Even when he was a toddler he would bypass candy for any other treat. Because of this, we always offer something other than candy for our holiday visitors. The one year that really sticks out in my mind was the very first Halloween we ever did as a family.  We handed out little candy bars and apples. Big, organic, juicy red apples that were polished to a high shine.

We lived in a small community and knew most of the neighbors so it was not a “big deal” to hand out something like an apple. The kids loved them and chose the apple over candy almost every time.  In fact, other kids would see kids eating them on the street and ask which house was handing out apples. We were bombarded.  Kirby had to go to the grocery half way through the night and buy more.  The kids had spoken! From that Halloween on, we made sure to have interesting and healthy choices for Halloween treats.
Fast forward a few years and now you have something called the Teal Pumpkin Project. It is funny to have a name for something that our family (and many others) have been doing for years. However, it is becoming more popular and I wanted to take a moment to explain it for those of you who wondered what it is all about.

It seems that there are more families dealing with food allergies and intolerance. I am not going to debate if it is from our modified foods, or because there is more awareness or if it is because testing for these allergies is much easier and accurate.  It just is an awareness. Taking children with food allergies Trick-or-Treating is a nightmare. Parents have a couple of choices.

1. They can let their kids collect the candy and then trade it for other items when they get home.

2. You can be the parent that says no to any of it and just drag your child house to house while all the other kids collect candy.

3. You can do a quick check to see what that particular house is offering and try to steer your little goblin towards a different house. These are all valid tactics. But that is a lot stress on the parent. 

And, if your little fairy princess SEES all of the colorful, wonderful candies that they are not allowed, there might be consequences.  Some kids cry, some feel sad and some of the kids have flat out tantrums on your front lawn. That is not the stuff of great Halloween memories.

Introducing the Teal Pumpkin Project.  The object is to paint, buy or create a teal pumpkin and put it in a highly visible place it by your door. That way parents can see it and know that you have a non-food alternative for their little Trick-or-Treaters.  You are actively mitigating any front lawn meltdowns by frazzled grown ups and/or children.  It is such an easy thing to do. You are showing your support and that you care that kids with allergies can safely partake in all the fun of Halloween.

Here are a few ideas to get you started on filling up a non-candy treat basket to offer up this Halloween.

1. Sidewalk chalk (I put two in a snack sized baggie)
2. Rubber duckies
3. Pencils
4. Glow sticks
5. Mini pads of paper
6. Coloring sheets and a box of crayons
7. Small craft kits
8. Children’s books

Each year I choose something different to put in our “candy basket”.  Here are a few items that we have used in the past.

1. Mini waters
2. Juice boxes
3. Pudding cups (not super healthy but generates much excitement)
4. Lunch sized potato chip bags
5. Packages of dried apples
6. Raisins
7. Granola bars
8. Fruit leather

I hope these ideas are helpful and that you will consider putting out a Teal Pumpkin this year.  Have a happy and safe Halloween.