Halloween has proved time and again to be the most challenging of all the holidays with a child with life-threatening food allergies. There were so many obstacles out of my control. You don’t know what the neighbors are dishing out. Plus, there are candy companies who have changed their manufacturing policies. So while it used to be a company I trusted with food labeling, I now have to be more diligent with monitoring bite-size choices.

Researching every treat dropped into the treat bag to weed out any that could cause an anaphylactic reaction proved more terrifying than any Halloween horror.

However, thankfully, we now have many other options as more and more people are becoming more and more knowledgable about allergy awareness. Here are just a couple of things you can do during the Halloween season to keep your kiddos safe, but still make sure they have just as much fun as the princess or ghost next door chomping on their Snickers.

1. After trick-or-treating and going to annual Halloween parties, we began donating the candy to the Armed Forces. In exchange, my son could pick a toy from the toy store. We then discovered The Switch Witch. On Halloween night, your Switch Witch trades the candy for a toy.

2. You can also get your neighborhood involved in the Teal Pumpkin Project. This Halloween initiative was started by Becky Basalone, a mother of a child with severe food allergies, who wanted to bring awareness to her neighborhood. She started handing out non-food items to trick-or-treaters and painted a pumpkin teal, the color of allergy awareness, and placed in her front yard. With 1 in 13 children in the US affected by food allergies, the Team Pumpkin Project promotes empathy and inclusiveness.

Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) took the project national in 2014. We are starting to see an increase in the number of houses participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project. Participating is easy! All you need to do is grab a pumpkin and paint it teal (many stores have them for sale) and place it on your front porch. Have some non-food treats like stickers, temporary tattoos, bouncy balls, or vampire teeth available for those trick-or-treaters that want or need them instead of candy.

When kids with food allergies come trick or treating, they or their parents will let you know and you can make their whole Halloween a happier experience. Including these children means the world to their families

If you choose, you can also add your name to a registry of other homes participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project.

Halloween can be so difficult for a kid with food allergies. Help us and FARE make it fun for everyone!