How Teal Pumpkins Make Halloween Safer for Kids with Allergies

The Teal Pumpkin Project is a way to make your home friendly—and safe—for all trick-or-treaters.

allergy printables with teal pumpkins for teal pumpkin project
Photo: Brie Passano

While Halloween is often a carefree experience for little ones, some children have food allergies that make the candies in their trick-or-treat goodie bags potentially dangerous. Parents of children with severe or life-threatening allergies may feel like they have to keep their children from participating in the holiday's activities with Halloween treats at home or carefully inspect each collected item—and neither option feels particularly festive. Enter the Teal Pumpkin Project.

This initiative from Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) seeks to make sure all kids can collect treats safely come Halloween by raising awareness about food allergies and other conditions in children—1 in 13 experience food allergies, according to the Project. Read on to learn what the Teal Pumpkin Project is and how teal pumpkin decor indicates you're participating in a safer, more fun Halloween for everyone.

What Is the Teal Pumpkin Project?

The Teal Pumpkin Project encourages households participating in trick-or-treating to offer non-food treats. Instead of handing out candy and small baked goods, you can share glow sticks, pencils, stickers, or other small toys, which are usually available (in bulk, no less!) at many places where you buy your Halloween candy. Participating houses can signal that they offer non-food treats by displaying a teal pumpkin with other outdoor Halloween decorations outside their home.

The project's history goes back to 2012 when Tennessee mom Becky Basalone looked for ways her son could participate in Halloween activities without triggering his severe food allergies. She wanted to create a visual cue to let other families know that her house was allergy-friendly, so she placed a bright teal pumpkin on her front porch to signal that she had non-food treats.

On Halloween night, she handed out spider rings, googly eyes, and glow sticks while explaining her initiative to everyone who rang the doorbell. Over the next two years, the idea of the teal pumpkin and allergy-friendly trick-or-treating became so popular that FARE officially launched the nationwide Teal Pumpkin Project in 2014.

How You Can Participate

Let little zombies, princesses, and superheroes know your home is allergy-friendly by placing a bright teal pumpkin on your doorstep. You can either buy one or cover a live pumpkin with teal paint. Just be sure to display it where it's prominent, unobstructed, and visible from the sidewalk! We've also created a free printable sign and a door hanger you can display along with your pumpkin.

Once you've displayed your pumpkin and hung the signs, stock up on fun non-food treats. You might think handing out individual toys would be more expensive than your typical jumbo bag of candy, but that's not the case—major retailers sell tons of tiny, spooky trinkets for a comparable price. Plus, these non-food treats will last for years, unlike candy, so you can stock up and use any leftovers next year. With a little care, some creative treats, and the help of our handy printable signs, everyone can have a great (and safe) Halloween.

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