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

By Emily VanSchmus
Updated October 16, 2019
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The costumes, the laughter, and the fun of being out and about after dark—kids look forward to trick-or-treating all year. And while Halloween is normally a carefree experience for little ones, some children are affected by food allergies that make the candies in their trick-or-treat goodie bags dangerous. Luckily, there is a relatively new initiative in place to make trick-or-treating safe for all kids—and you can help! This year, consider offering Halloween treats that aren't food. Rather than offering sugary sweets, hand out glow sticks, pencils, stickers, or other small toys, which are usually available at a lot of the same places you buy your Halloween candy.

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No child wants to have to say "no" to a sugary treat once they're already at the doorstep, but how do you let trick-or-treaters know that you're handing out non-food prizes? The Teal Pumpkin Project makes it easy for everyone.

Brie Passano

What Is the Teal Pumpkin Project?

Back in 2012, Tennessee mom Becky Basalone was looking for ways her son could participate in Halloween activities without triggering his severe food allergies. She wanted to create a visual cue that would let other families know which houses were 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 that rang the doorbell. Over the next two years, the idea of the teal pumpkin had become so popular that the Food Allergy Research and Education organization officially launched the nation-wide 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 (like this 13-inch plastic teal pumpkin, $12, Target) or cover a live pumpkin with teal paint. Just be sure to display it where it's prominent, unobstructed, and clearly visible from the sidewalk! We've also created a free printable sign and a door hanger you can display along with your pumpkin.

Get the free printables

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 like Target are making it easy (and so affordable) to fill your trick-or-treat bowl with festive prizes. We've rounded up our favorite affordable Halloween party favors to help you get started. The best part? Our picks start at just $3!

Non-Food Halloween Favors:

Skeleton Erasers

A 24-pack of colorful skull erasers is just $3, so you could grab enough for a couple hundred trick-or-treaters for less than you'd spend on fun-size candy bars. The erasers are about an inch long, and each package contains four bright neon colors.

Buy It: 24-Count Skull Erasers, $3, Target

Courtesy of Target

Halloween Bubbles

These Halloween bubble sticks are cute as can be. Each pack comes with 24 brightly-colored tubes, topped with pumpkins, owls, cats and skulls. While candy is quickly devoured and instantly forgotten, a tube of bubbles will provide trick-or-treaters with a fun activity that lasts for days.

Buy It: 24-Count Bubble Sticks, $3, Target

Courtesy of Amazon

Patterned Pencils

Pencils are an inexpensive (and useful!) prize, so we'll be filling our trick-or-treat bowls with this set. It contains 48 pencils in eight different holiday designs. Hand them out as they are, or pair them with Target's skeleton erasers for an extra festive touch.

Buy It: 48-Count Halloween Pencils, $9.95, Amazon

Courtesy of Target

Glow In the Dark Witch Fingers

Target is offering dozens of super inexpensive non-food treats this year, which means you can stock up on fun trinkets like these glow-in-the-dark witch fingers for just a few dollars. Set your trick-or-treat bowl under a light during the day so the fingers will already be glowing when kids begin ringing your doorbell.

Buy It: 24-Count Fake Fingers, $3, Target

Courtesy of Amazon

Stretchy Skeletons

If you're looking for something that's a mix of spooky and fun, these stretchy trinkets are the way to go. The skeletons come in a pack of 48; each one is 4 inches long, but can stretch up to 24 inches.

Buy It: 48-Count Stretchy Skeletons, $16.97, Amazon

Courtesy of Amazon

Glow-In-the-Dark Teeth

When you're a kid, plastic vampire teeth can go with any costume! Get all your shopping one in one click; this set contains 144 plastic fangs in a variety of Halloween colors.

Buy It: 144-Count Vampire Teeth, $14.99, Amazon

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