DIY, Kid Projects, On Motherhood

The Teal Pumpkin Project with Sherwin Williams 2018 Color of the Year – Oceanside!

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This post is near and dear to my heart (read on to find out why), and I’m so excited to partner with Sherwin Williams to announce their 2018 color of the year, Oceanside!  This is a rich, dusty, deep teal color that gives off perfectly moody, saturated vibes, and it would look SO gorgeous paired with soft neutrals and washed woods.  YUM.  💙

To test out the color, I decided to have the kids paint a few pumpkins for our first year participating in The Teal Pumpkin Project.  For the last few years, I’d noticed certain houses displaying brightly painted teal pumpkins at the front door while we were out trick-or-treating, and I didn’t understand.  Now, after walking alongside a child with severe food allergies and learning as we go, I get it.  The Teal Pumpkin Project is a way to quickly let parents of children with food allergies know that their home is providing non-food treats for Halloween festivities.  Such a simple concept with such a big impact for kids who can sometimes feel left out or “other.” 💙

It might seem so small, not being able to eat certain foods, and I guess in a way it is.  However, the biggest struggle we’ve faced while tackling our daughter’s Celiac diagnosis over the past few months has been watching her feel left out, left behind.  Class parties, quick trips to the drive-thru, vacations with unknown eating destinations, birthday parties, you get the idea.  We have tried our very best to think ten steps ahead and provide alternative snacks at school or send her to parties with her own set of treats (and our closest pals and family have been SO awesome at providing these specific food choices for her so she can feel included), and at home, our family meals are almost always totally gluten-free so that “normal” at home is inclusive of our daughter.  But you know…sometimes we drop the ball or just can’t plan that far in advance.  Our little girl literally has THE BEST attitude about the whole thing, but even she gets tired of hearing, “You can’t.”  Can’t eat this, can’t eat that….which many times means, “You can’t participate in this” or “you are OTHER.”  It’s not like anyone teases her or anything like that; it’s more of a subtle feeling of being different, and it adds up when you think about how often people need to EAT in a day’s time and how many moments there may or may not be options for her to feel included and the same as all the other little kids.

The Teal Pumpkin Project is a great way to bring awareness to a simple act of inclusion for kids with food allergies: grab a bag of party favors, sticker packs, bouncy balls, play jewelry, Target Dollar Spot trinkets, anything that could keep a child from approaching yet another door on Halloween night, only to walk away empty handed.  Sure, it’s not the end of the world.  But…you know that look when your baby feels left behind, feels different….and just wants to be part of the fun.  By painting one pumpkin in a teal color or printing off a teal pumpkin and taping it to the door while providing non-food Halloween treats, we can extend inclusion to children who might look “normal” on the outside, but can so often feel the very opposite.  I was unaware of this movement before our food-world was flipped upside down a few months ago, and now, as the mama of a daughter who has the kindest, sweetest heart I’ve ever seen and just wants to be told, “YES!  You can!”…I’m so so in. 🙌🏻💙

If you’d like to paint a teal pumpkin for Halloween this year and provide a few non-food treats, we used (darkest to lightest) Sherwin Williams paint in Oceanside, Lakeshore and Jetstream to create a sort of ombre trio of teal pumpkins, letting our local trick-or-treaters know that all are included here for a few treats, no matter their limitations.  Proud to team up with Sherwin Williams for our first year of The Teal Pumpkin Project!


Teal Pumpkin Project free printables, including flyers, yard signs and pumpkin stencils!  Click [HERE]

Register your home or neighborhood on the Teal Pumpkin Map so parents will know where to direct their child for more participation.  Click [HERE]

For more ideas on non-food Halloween treats, click [HERE]

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  1. Marms says:

    Sweet story in honor of the sweetest girl I know!!!!

  2. Terri Kern says:

    Love this!!! I am so proud of this little lady and everyone’s effort to help!

  3. Renee says:

    I feel you, mama! ❤ My 4 year old son was diagnosed with celiac in January. I count my blessings that this disease’s symptoms are eliminated by following a gluten free diet, but it breaks my heart when I have to tell him he can’t eat something. He has amazed me, though, at how adaptable he is to this change in diet and lifestyle. If you ever need to chat, please message me! Xo

  4. Nancy says:

    Love this! My business partners son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and celiac as a high school junior last year. While he may be a bit too old for trick or treating, I know my partner and his wife will want to put out the sign and have non food treats for other youger kiddos. Thanks for sharing!! PS, I would do this in a heartbeat, but I don’t get any trick or treaters 🙁

  5. Nancy Nahaczewski says:

    Having grown up many years ago with a sister that was diagnosed at 9 with Juvenile Diabetes I’m grateful that the world is so much more aware of the food that you put in your body may be fine but for other people it could be deadly or extremely painful! Hopefully your daughter will not feel isolated and she will know that people truly care! And most importantly that she will thrive and grow to be a beautiful person! Hang in there… 🙏🏻

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Appreciate this and I totally agree that it’s a blessing that awareness seems to be on the rise. Hugs to you and your sister!

  6. Pam Lykins says:

    I feel you, our son is gluten free as well but to top it his sister has to be tree nut, peanut and egg free. It is the worst feeling as a parent to see your child(ren) feel left out or to be told you can’t have this or that. It’s hard as parents because we want them always to feel included and feel wanted. So many do not understand the struggle we face. So glad to hear ones are aware and teaming up for it.

  7. Amanda says:

    Thank you for sharing this! We are a food allergy family and supporting/participating in the teal pumpkin project. Making sure everyone has a fun night is the best. Just in case you didn’t know there is a website where you can drop a pin for your house on a map of the U.S. so other food allergy families know. Happy Halloween!

  8. Amanda says:

    And I just saw your link so disregard my comment about the map haha.

  9. Corinne says:

    God bless your family. I know how hard food allergies are. When my son was born he tested positive to being allergic to literally every single scratch test EXCEPT corn. He didn’t even get to enjoy a cake for his first birthday 😔Because it was too risky. I thank God that luckily he grew out of it, and is now only allergic to cat dander and dog saliva (So weird) but it was definitely a struggle and for a while I was afraid to leave him anywhere, and to try new things. It’s so sad that there’s so many allergies these days. Hope your little ones have a great Halloween, and I hope she feels included!! Take care. 💕

  10. April says:

    Hey Erin!

    So I’ve not heard of the teal pumpkin project before, thank you for sharing! While we don’t have food allergies at our house, my husband and I got so tired of all the sugar our kids were getting and couldn’t possibly eat anyway. We started noticing that after birthday parties, etc, that our kids barely touched the party favors or sometimes had forgotten about them by the next day! So we put a big plastic bowl in the hallway closet (out of sight, out of mind) and would just put all the unused, barely touched party favors, bouncy balls, never-opened kids meal toys from fast food places in the bowl throughout the year. By the time Halloween rolls around, we have a bowl full of a variety of treats! We have no shame in our game. The kids that come to our house always think it’s so fun bc every toy is different, like a treasure box! We usually have a bag of candy for backup if needed, but it’s a fun way to provide a treat that anyone can have-for free-and stockpiling them all year has become a fun tradition at our house! We will definitely become a teal project house!

  11. Chels says:

    Oh, Erin! I love everything about this post except for the fact your sweet daughter has to deal with celiac. Not fun! But how encouraging to her and what a testimony of your love that your spreading awareness and providing for her in every way. The pumpkins are beautiful! And I love all of those colors!

  12. Joy Bergstrand says:

    What a beautiful idea. I’ve not heard of this campaign before, but what a great way to handle it! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Jessica carvalho says:

    Thank you so much for helping to bring awareness to the Teal Pumpkin Project! My son has a life threatening tree nut allergy and on top of all of the anxiety it creates trying to micromanage every food- it’s just so hard to see them be excluded or made to feel any other way than wanted! Breaks my mama heart! So important to bring light to this food allergy world and spread love and compassion! ❤️❤️

  14. Nichole says:

    I am so happy so to see this post about allergies and how occasions like Halloween can be frustrating for kids with allergies. My son has a recently diagnosed peanut and tree nut allergy and it has been a struggle and feels so unfair. Thanks for brining awareness!

  15. Ingrid Murphy says:

    I did not know about this! Thank you for the info and I will definitely be passing it along to friends and family. Its a wonderful idea! 🎃

  16. I’ve done this for a few years and it started because my kids were friends with a little girl that anaphylactic food allergies. Target has already painted teal pumpkins so I picked one up this year. Score! Love how you painted your own. We all just want the best for our kids and to make them feel the most normal they can be right? ❤️

  17. Kim Malloy says:

    That is a great idea! We live out in the country and do not get trick or treaters on our little road or I would use it. Having developed a severe dairy allergy in my mid 30’s and my niece at 14 years old is dealing with the same thing I understand how your daughter feels. Usually at meetings and parties I still feel awkward, telling people I am just not hungry instead of an explanation why I am not able to eat anything they have. It is not easy for my niece but I am thankful that what I have learned over the last several years is able to help her and her choices now.

    I love the pumpkins and that blue color. After purple, blue is one of my favorites😊😊

  18. Amy says:

    I learned about the teal project a few years ago! My daughter has severe peanut/tree nut allergies. It’s amazing how many candies have nuts. So I cannot imagine what you must go through. Thanks for spreading awareness about this!

  19. Melissa says:

    Erin ~
    I am so thankful someone of influence is also bringing this to a bigger light!
    I have to eat Gluten/Dairy/Soy/Corn/Egg/Refined Sugar FREE….to which MOST people say “what DO you eat?”
    My son also has food allergies that include most of mine PLUS all nuts except Pecans, Pistachios and Peanuts…we call it “the three P’s” to help him remember.
    To say that I am an expert label reader is a major understatement….growing and raising our food has become a priority!
    I cannot wait until my branding and website is complete, so all that God has brought us through and so much more goodness can help others too…thanks for always being transparent!
    Melissa ~ The Farmhouse Native

  20. Suze says:

    We are a gluten-free and peanut-free household and had never heard of this. Thank you so much for raising our awareness!

  21. Heather Congden says:

    My niece also has Celiac disease! What an amazing way to let people know 💙

  22. Lisa Marie says:

    What a great idea! I’ve never heard of this before.
    I am there with ya Erin! My youngest son, now 22, was diagnosed with Crohn’s diease at the age of 9. I remember well when at church parties & such, him feeling very left out because he couldn’t eat anything. This is such a great idea! Thanks for sharing & praying for your sweet daughter!!!💗

  23. Cati says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I had never heard of it before…what a neat idea. I just registered our house on the map and will be handing out bubble wands for our food-allergic trick or treaters!

  24. Jordan says:

    I love this! I’m a type one diabetic. I was diagnosed when I was 16 (I’m 19 now) and I totally understand that feeling of being “different”. It’s so frustrating because it’s not like you’re dealing with a huge health crisis (compared to others), but there is a aspect of “little things” that can pile up and really get you down! Sending prayers for your daughter as I can relate to her struggle now, and the ones to come.❤️

  25. Kaitlyn says:

    I love this!! I never even heard of it until this year when my niece was diagnosed with a severe oat allergy! Such a great way to keep Halloween alive for those with food allergies!

  26. Rachel says:

    Hey girl! So thankful for people like you who take the extra time for the special kiddos out there! My son has a severe form of childhood epilepsy and is on a special (keto) diet to reduce seizures. I have been so nervous about Halloween, he is two and just doesn’t understand. I’m hoping we find some people generous enough to go the extra mile to make Halloween special for all kids, even those who can’t celebrate it the traditional way!!! Thank you!

  27. Shannon says:

    Love this so much! Love that your kids are involved in making a difference in others lives. Good job Mama! As a mother of 3 girls, I have spent years whining, nagging, complaining… about the kids clothes being ruined from craft projects. Seeing that your girls shirts are turned inside out while painting is a BRILLIANT idea!! 💡 We are never too old to learn! 😊

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