It’s spooky season! My favorite time of the year . . . and even more exciting and special with two little ones. My three year old is so excited to be a witch skeleton for his first Halloween trick-or-treating. He keeps running around the house singing, “Knock, knock! Trick or treat, give me something good to eat!” I’m thrilled that he shares my love of the season but extra nervous because this past year he was diagnosed with a peanut allergy. Right away, I wondered how the holiday would look for him. Would he feel left out?
Of course, I did what any newly diagnosed food allergy mom would do. I reached out to other moms who have been in my shoes. One great suggestion was to talk to my son about a visit from the “Switch Witch.”
The Switch Witch is a good witch that takes your candy while you’re asleep and leaves a present behind in exchange.
You’ll need to really sell this story. Make up your own, or you can find different variations online. I’ve seen one story that explains that the Switch Witch lives in a candy castle and needs to replenish her candy supply every year. All you have to do is leave your candy out overnight and make the trade with a toy or book while your little one snoozes.
Another suggestion was to only visit houses with a teal pumpkin. What was that all about anyways?
The Teal Pumpkin Project
The Teal Pumpkin Project was created to help raise awareness for food allergies by offering children non-food options stored in a separate container from regular candy. This option makes Halloween more inclusive for the 1 in 13 children living with a food allergy. All you have to do is place a teal pumpkin on your doorstep or hang a sign on your door/window. Take the next step and add your address to the Teal Pumpkin Project map so families can plan ahead. If you see a child walking up your doorstep holding a teal pumpkin pail, get ready to offer them your allergy-friendly treats!
Non-Food Treat Options
If you look for options online, you’ll find lots of recommendations for stickers, bubbles, glow sticks, pencils, erasers, etc. When I told my husband about these, he groaned and responded, “I wouldn’t want those things as a kid!” So here are some ideas I’ve come up with that might spark a little more joy.
Legos or Mega Bloks
For the older kids (because you know, choking hazard), get little treat bags and fill them with miscellaneous legos. Kids love building and creating! Chances are they have their own legos at home and can add to their collection. You can find a bulk box of 500 lego pieces here! For younger kids, you can get Mega Bloks which are chunkier and easier to put together with tiny hands. You can find a bag of 80 pieces here.
I describe Wikki Stix as sticky string that can be molded and shaped for endless hours of creativity. They are made from yarn and non-toxic, food-grade wax. Wikki Stix also sells individual Halloween Paks (score!).
Kids of all ages love these miniature car toys. They cost about $1 a piece at stores like Target or Walmart.
Halloween Beads and String
If you like to DIY and want to pass on your creative juices, make little packs of Halloween beads and include string so kiddos can make their own necklaces once they are finished trick-or-treating. Bonus if you can find some glow-in-the-dark ones . . . those were my favorite growing up!
Try to stay away from play-dohs or molding clay because oftentimes they contain gluten.
Now if you’re like my husband, Halloween just doesn’t seem right without the sugar rush. Luckily, there are lots of candy options that are free from the top eight food allergens. Because we can never be sure as to what families will allow for their food allergy kids, please make sure to consult an adult before offering candy treats. I would also recommend keeping these candies in their own separate container from both non-food treats and regular candies.
Dedicated Allergen-Free Facilities
These companies are dedicated allergen-free facilities. Each Halloween, they release their seasonal treats so that children with food allergies can have their candy fixes too.
YumEarth – you can find select options in-person at Target
These brand name, popular candies are easier to find and usually more affordable. The ones listed are free from the top eight allergens but may be processed in manufacturing facilities with other allergens. It is very important to communicate with an adult to ensure that they are comfortable with their child receiving these options.
Their label claims that milk and soy may be present; however, they are produced in a facility that does not use peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, or gluten.
They are top eight allergen-free and manufactured in a facility free from peanuts, tree nuts, and wheat.
They are free from the top eight allergens; however, the company does have a precautionary label that states trace amounts of soy oil may be present.
Skittles and Starbursts
Skittles and Starbursts themselves are free from the top eight allergens; however, they do not have a statement regarding whether or not they are manufactured in a facility with other allergens. Both are made by the same company.
Sour Patch Kids
Download the ABQ Mom Teal Pumpkin Project Printout Here
You can find teal pumpkins at Target or other retailers, you can paint your own real pumpkin teal, or you can use the printout included to put up on your door or window. We’re busy enough as it is during the holiday season, so hopefully this will take out some of the “work” and you can still include your neighborhood children with food allergies in the festivities!
Originally published October 2021.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.