Halloween window with cobwebs and spiders

Allergy-Friendly Halloween

Halloween is right around the corner.  Scary and silly costumes, trick-or-treating and tons of candy!  As a child I always looked forward to going door to door; getting as much candy as I could fit in my basket; and then getting home and dumping out all of my candy to go through everything and decide what I was going to eat first!  

With food allergies the Halloween experience looks a little different.  Don’t get me wrong, my children dress up in fun costumes, go trick-or-treating with their friends and get candy, but back at home they can’t just dive into their candy baskets right away.  First, they dump out all their candy on the floor just like I did.  We go through each piece, not to decide what to eat first, but to figure out what is safe and unsafe. Unfortunately for a family with multiple food allergies a lot of the candy is unsafe, especially for our daughter who is allergic to nuts, soy, egg, sesame and other seeds.  The risk of cross contamination is high and we don’t take chances.  

At first I was sad for my daughter and I didn’t like they she was experiencing a different Halloween than I did as a child.  But as other food allergy parents know, when you want your child to have an amazing experience even with food allergies you figure out how to make it ten times more fun than when you were younger. 

The first tradition we started to do was with the “Switch Witch”. 


We would read the story the night before Halloween and once the kids got home from trick-or-treating we would switch out their candy for an entirely different and bigger bucket with safe treats and toys.  These days the “Switch Witch” doesn’t fly around here anymore, so we go through their candy and they keep the safe treats and we donate the other candy.  The Switch Witch did last for many years, so I highly recommend it.  You can order your own Switch Witch and book from https://switchwitches.com/. 

I also order some safe Halloween candy, specifically chocolate, from different companies that are super special and cute.  Since chocolate is the candy that is most likely to be contaminated with nuts, this year I ordered each of them a small gift basket from Vermont Nut Free Chocolates.  It has chocolate lollipops shaped like ghosts and pumpkins, small pumpkin chocolate drops and Skippers, which are very similar to M&M’s.  They get very excited about these treats because they know they are safe for them without question.  Check out Vermont Nut Free Chocolate to buy your own special Halloween treats, www.vermontnutfree.com.  


Another fun tradition in the food allergy community is the Teal Pumpkin Project.  FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project is a worldwide movement to create a safer, happier Halloween for all kids. Putting a teal pumpkin on your doorstep means you have non-food treats available, such as glow sticks, stickers or other small toys. This simple act promotes inclusion for trick-or-treaters with food allergies or other conditions.

If you want to get involved be sure to leave a teal pumpkin or signage in your front yard or doorstep, so food allergy families know you have non-candy treats for them.  


Halloween is one of the days when the most food allergic reactions occur in the US, so this simple act of having non-candy treats for trick-or-treaters can actually save a life.  

Some non-candy options are: 

  • Glow bracelets
  • Slime
  • Pop-Its
  • Novelty glasses
  • Stamps
  • Slinkies 
  • Stickers
  • Erasers
  • Laptop and water bottle stickers (a favorite in our house, so we will be giving out this year)
  • Play-doh
  • Bubbles
  • Bouncy Balls
  • Tattoos
  • Key chains 
  • Slap bracelets

As you can see the list is long and you can find these items in many stores and online in bulk, so the cost can be less than buying candy!  Our favorite this year are the laptop and water bottle stickers, so we will be giving those out along with a lot of other options from this list.  You can easily find all of the above items on amazon.com.  Plus, any items that are not taken by the kids on Halloween can be saved for next year.  You can’t say that about candy!  Well, at least I hope not;)  

Another fun option would be to set up a teal pumpkin themed Trunk-or-Treat at your child’s school. My schedule was packed this year, but it is on my to-do list for next year.  Just grab some teal pumpkins from Target, www.target.com, or paint pumpkins yourself; put up some teal streamers; maybe a sign and you are all set!  You will have the opportunity to have safe treats for everyone, possibly meet some other families in the food allergy community and teach others about food allergies and the Teal Pumpkin Project.  Winning all around!  FARE even has pamphlets you can hand out to the parents as the children trick-or-treat. 

At the end of the day all families want their children to be included in all fun holidays and traditions, including Halloween.  If you are a food allergy family, try out one of our traditions above or make up one of your own!  The goal is for your children to have an awesome time and not let their food allergies take away any childhood experiences for them, even if they may look a little different.

Stay safe everyone and Happy Halloween!

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Elizabeth Pecoraro is a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in pediatric nutrition and food allergies as well as women’s health and habit change. She offers 1:1 counseling, meal planning services and she is currently creating an online course for parents of children with food allergies.  Her “Allergy-Friendly Cookbook” will be out August 2023.  For more personalized information, click here and book a session with Elizabeth.


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