Let's go to Imaginationtown for a minute
Imagine you've been released from all adult-y obligations. Your time is your own, and as you look around, you see the same is true for many of your peers. Your field of view expands and you realize you're at the worlds most awesome theme park.
The rides? They're all the exact ones you want to ride. The snacks are free, and exactly the snacks you love. Everything is happiness and joy and FUN.
Or maybe it's not a theme park, maybe it's a tropical beach. Gorgeous white sand littered with the cushiest, most inviting beach chairs, shaded by the perfect umbrellas.
No matter where you are, everywhere you look, the overwhelming disposition is joy and happiness. Your smile grows ever wider as you prepare to jump on in and join in the celebration.
Everything sounds great, right?
You feel a hand on your shoulder – “Wait. These rides, they're covered in a poison that will kill you if you touch it.”
“Wait. These beach chairs, covered in the same poison. The others you see aren't the same, the poison doesn't affect them. Just you.”
Hold the freaking phone
You quickly find that you're free to walk around, free to look at all the things you so desperately want to take part in – but you musn't touch. This SUCKS, doesn't it?
This is the life of a trick or treating child with a life threatening food allergy. Can you imagine? As adults we are far better able to process and manage the emotions that come along with being left out of an activity. But kids? All they know is that it feels like they're being left out of a giant party, through no fault of their own.
This is where the Teal Pumpkin Project – and YOU – come in.
What the heck is the Teal Pumpkin Project?
Simple: It's an initiative started by a mom in Tennessee who had this crazy idea that all kids should have a safe Halloween. According to foodallergy.org, 1 in 13 American children have a food allergy. By offering some non-candy/non-food treats to the little ghosts and goblins that will come by on All Hallows Eve, you provide a safe location for trick or treating. Parents of these children know you're a safe house when you display any of the Teal Pumpkin Project flyers – or even decorate your own teal pumpkin (you can see mine here). This will be our third year being a teal pumpkin house, and I've seen first hand how grateful the kids and parents are to find a place to safely participate.
A small dose of realism
Is Halloween the biggest deal ever? No. Does everyone even participate? Double no. And still – it's so easy to put together non-food treats. In my house the biggest benefit is that I don't eat trick or treat candy morning, noon, and night. No joke, I'll polish off a bag of candy in no time flat.
In past years, I've given out mini color books with crayons, little crafty kits – there's an endless variety of cool stuff out there! This year I threw together a quick order from Oriental Trading Company (who were lovely enough to send me the supplies I requested for this post) and I think we have a pretty nice setup. Bonus: I will not eat a single one of these items. WIN.
In case you're stumped for ideas, this is what we picked up:
A giant pack of Halloween themed pencils, and another giant pack of Halloween themed erasers. To display, I just wadded up some newspaper and stuffed it down inside some dollar store vases I had in the closet. Cut some scrapbook paper down to size and lined the inside of the vase to hide the wadded up newspaper. We like to keep it simple around these parts.
How cool are these scratch halloween shapes? Remember in elementary school when you'd cover a piece of paper with all the crayon colors you could think of, then cover the whole thing in black acrylic paint, then scratch designs in the paint? These are exactly like that, except no mess at all. Since they're available in a variety of designs and themes, I'll for sure be ordering these again. This little pumpkin art was completed by MY little pumpkin.
These mini halloween spiral notebooks almost didn't make the gift table. I so wanted to stash them everywhere for myself. Oh, that super cool black netting (they call it Creepy Cloth – ha!) came from Oriental Trading, too – it's a really big piece.
I hope you're leaving with a better understanding of the Teal Pumpkin Project, and maybe a willingness to participate, yourself. If so, visit foodallergy.org to learn more and find tons of cool downloads – they have games and stuff too, not just the flyers. And if you find yourself in need of some cool non-food items to give out (or gifts for your child's class, or if you're an educator, or a preschool, or anyone really), check out Oriental Trading Company.
If you DO choose in to the Teal Pumpkin Project, don't forget to post on your neighborhood's Facebook page or forum, or post flyers around your neighborhood. The more families that know and participate, the cooler a trick or treat experience these kids with food allergies can have.
Happy haunting, my loves.
A quick note: Because this is the internet, you may stumble on this post at any random time of year – Oriental Trading Company usually has a ton of coupons in addition to their great seasonal sales – don't forget to check them out, too.