What kid doesn't love Halloween? The creative costumes, the fun games, the spooky decorations, and of course, the candy and treats! Halloween is often second only to Christmas in the hearts of kids, and I was definitely no exception!
But sometimes the candy would hurt me. I didn't know it right away, but I have celiac disease. Anything containing gluten would make me very ill. I remember sorting through my trick or treat bag with my parents and having to give up so many of the treats I had collected and how sad that made me feel.
For children with allergies and conditions like celiac, Halloween can be bittersweet. Nobody wants to spoil the fun or take away the sweet treats from others, but wouldn't it be nice for every child to feel included?
Food allergies are a life-altering and potentially life-threatening disease, and a public health issue. In Canada, one in 13 children has a food allergy -- that's roughly two in every school classroom. For these children, even a tiny amount of their allergen has the potential to cause a severe reaction.
We can all help to promote a safer, happier Halloween for everyone in the neighbourhood by supporting this project.
Halloween can be a tricky time for families managing food allergies. Many traditional Halloween treats aren't safe for children with life-threatening food allergies. The Teal Pumpkin Project promotes safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies.
We can all help to promote a safer, happier Halloween for everyone in the neighbourhood by supporting this project. The Teal Pumpkin Project encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season.
I love the Teal Pumpkin Project because of how it aims to make Halloween, safer, happier and more inclusive for everyone. By placing a teal pumpkin on your doorstep or printing a window sign, households can let kids and parents know that you have items like stickers, crayons and glow sticks available as treats, for those families who are concerned about allergies or other restrictions.
All kids love non-food treats, and it's not just kids with allergies who can benefit. There are children who have various conditions that may preclude them from having candy, or who can equally benefit from non-food treats, including:
- Food allergies
- Food intolerances
- Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE)
- Celiac disease
- Food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES)
- Children with feeding tubes
- Any child on a special diet
The goal is not to exclude candy from the Halloween tradition of trick or treating; it is simply to ensure that children with food allergies -- and other children for whom candy is not an option -- are able to enjoy a safe and happy Halloween, just like their friends.
So, that's why my pumpkin is teal this Halloween. It's for all the kids out there who want to be included, and for the little girl who still exists inside of me who loved to trick or treat, but didn't love becoming ill afterwards.
Ideas for Non-Food Treats
These low-cost items can be purchased and handed out to all trick-or-treaters if desired, and are available at dollar stores, party supply stores, or online shops.
• Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
• Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
• Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
• Mini Slinkies
• Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
• Bouncy balls
• Finger puppets or novelty toys
• Spider rings
• Vampire fangs
• Mini notepads
• Playing cards
For more information on the Teal Pumpkin Project, visit the website.
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Grab some mini packs of bubbles from the dollar store to give out on Halloween night. If you’ve got the time, print off the cute labels from the link below and attach them to each bottle. Get it here: Tartertots & Jello
Instead of fun-sized chocolates, try fun-sized Play-Doh! The one-ounce mini containers give kids a creativity rush instead of a sugar rush -- and it's sure to outlast the confections. Get it here: Hasbro, 15 1-ounce Play-Doh Containers for $6.99 (45 cents each)
We've never met a kid who doesn't like tossing a bouncy ball around. The objective: How high can it really bounce? Give them a chance to find out with Halloween-themed bouncers. Our money's on bat! Get it here: Amazing Party Store, Bounce Balls – Bat and Pumpkin, 24 for $7.19 (30 cents each)
Ready, set... glow! Glow sticks get a thumbs up from kids (hello, they glow in the dark!), from parents (they help your boo crew stand out), and dentists – just keep 'em out of kids' mouths. Get it here: Glo Warehouse, 8" Glow Bracelets, 50 8-inch bracelets for $7 (14 cents each)
Stickers are a tried, tested, and true Halloween treat. Turn up the fun factor with glow-in-the-dark, glittery or googley-eyed varieties. Get it here: Oriental Trading, Halloween Wiggle Eye Stickers, 72 Pieces for $4.50 (6 cents each)
Don't underestimate the power of gross-out novelties. Rubbery rats and fake fingers provide hours of frightful fun. Get it here: Open A Party, Glow-in-the-Dark Sticky Eyes, 54 pack for $9.99 (18 cents each)
If your kids have never tried these twisty, non-toxic, super fun sticks, they're in for a treat. Each pack comes with 8 Wikki Stix that bend into shapes galore (no mess!) and a Halloween play-sheet. Get it here: Wikki Stix, Trick-or-Treat Pak, 50 packs for $22 (44 cents each)
School may stir up faces of fright, but not spook-tacular school supplies. Pumpkin pencils, candy corn notepads, skull stamps and eerie erasers are scary fun. Get it here: Oriental Trading, Coffin-Shaped Erasers, 72 for $5.25 (7 cents each) Or here: Oriental Trading, Halloween Mini Eraser Assortment, 720 for $19 (2 cents each)
We know kids would rather have candy than fruit, but with oranges this cute, who could get mad? Get it here: Pinterest
Yes, you could get the standard black cat tat, but spooky skin art has expanded to everything from glittery ghouls to spider webs galore. Talk about instant costume elevation! Get it here: Party City, Halloween Glow in the Dark Temporary Tattoos, 120 for $6.99 (6 cents each)
Vampire teeth will never fail to amuse kids, even long after Halloween is over. Grab some at the dollar store and give them out on October 31. Get it here: Polkadot Chair
Jumping spiders, stretchy snakes, realistic roaches... oh my! Cobweb critters might look like plain plastic bugs to you, but to kids they're pranks in the making. Get it here: Oriental Trading, Transparent Spiders, 144 for $10.25 (7 cents each) Or here: Open A Party, Bag of bugs, 80 for $8.99 (11 cents each)
If you really want your non-candy Halloween treats to stand out, print off the joke toppers in the link below to give your ghoulish guests a good, long laugh! Get it here: Thirty Handmade Days
You can easily pick up cheap Halloween-themed school supplies at the dollar store or even Walmart. But if your kids are feeling crafty, why not get them to make some easy DIY monster pencils instead? Not only is this a great kid-friendly activity, but it’ll save you the trouble of making them yourself! Get it here: The 36th Avenue
These totally 80s arm candy can sub for candy. Get 'em in all the Halloween hues. Get it here: Amazing Party Store, Bracelets Favours, 72 for $3.59 (4 cents each) Or here: Walmart, Jelly Bracelets, 20 pack for $1 (5 cents each)
Follow Kathy Smart on Twitter: www.twitter.com/smart_kitchen