allergy safe halloweenPlay dates. Sports activities. Family friendly local events. All of these activities are fun parts of many kids’ lives, but for parents of kids with food allergies, they can be sources of nonstop worry and fear. A snack containing nuts, eggs, wheat, or dairy, or even a snack cross-contaminated with traces of those ingredients, can trigger a life-threatening reaction in a child with food allergies. Which holiday is the biggest source of worry for these families? Halloween. A fun and festive night for some can be nerve-wracking for the parents of trick-or-treaters who fear every Snickers bar and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

This year, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE – an organization devoted to food allergy education, support, and resources) is encouraging families to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project. The project is a national effort to include kids with food allergies in the Halloween fun by asking families to display a teal-colored pumpkin on their front steps. The teal pumpkin indicates that this family will provide non-food items, like small toys, to children with food allergies. It’s a great way to make every kid in your neighborhood feel like they can be a part of Halloween night fun, without the worry.

Are you interested in participating? It’s easy! Check out your local party supply shop, as they are sure to have bottles of spray paint on hand in every color, including teal. Once you’ve sprayed your pumpkin, you can display it on your front porch with other fall decorations. Teals looks great with the orange, yellow, and burgundy shades of autumn, including orange pumpkins and gourds! Next, make sure you’ve loaded up on small toys, like glow sticks, miniature figures, bubbles, or small musical instruments. Having a variety on hand will make Halloween even more fun. Then, print out a sign from FARE’s website, which explains the Teal Pumpkin Project and will let your neighbors know that they can participate as well.

You can make a big difference in your neighborhood by participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project, and encouraging your neighbors to do the same. The parents of kids with allergies in your neighborhood will feel relief when they see that their child can enjoy Halloween and feel included in the festivities without feeling a nagging sense of worry with every treat that’s handed out on Halloween night.