Fun ideas for a happy (and safe) Halloween during the pandemic

click to enlarge Fun ideas for a happy (and safe) Halloween during the pandemic
Illustration by Sam Coulter for Inland 360.

Halloween this year is on a Saturday with a full moon. For lovers of this holiday, it’s an ideal combination: a full weekend to celebrate and a night sky decorated for festivities.

But, queue the soundtrack for 2020 — “wah-wah-waah” —, the pandemic.
Halloween will be different this year, with events scaled back and people distancing themselves from others. Safety is on nearly everyone’s mind. 

To trick-or-treat or not to trick-or-treat is a question many are facing. It’s also on the thoughts of people whose homes trick-or-treaters visit. Many will not welcome visitors this year.  

Whether you plan to trick-or-treat, celebrate at home, or something in between, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and others while still having fun. Here are some.

If you are saying yes to trick-or-treating consider:

  • Outline expectations to children before you go. Go over expectations concerning social distancing and safety before you leave the house.

  • The porch light. A porch light that is turned on on Halloween is traditionally a sign it is safe to approach. Only visit homes that are open to receiving visitors. 

  • Limit the number of homes visited. Instead of quantity, put more value in quality time. Contact friends and relatives in advance to see if they would appreciate you stopping by, even if it's only for costume viewing through the window. 

  • A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. Have fun with cloth masks and make them a part of your costume. Masks should cover your mouth and nose. The CDC recommends not wearing a costume mask over a cloth mask as it can make breathing difficult. It also advises that masks should not be worn by children younger than 2. 

  • Avoid direct contact with other trick-or-treaters. Indoors and outdoors, you are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when in close contact with others for a long time. Stay at least 6 feet away.

  • Wash your hands before you eat. Wait until you get home, and clean up before breaking into the goodies. Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer frequently.

  • Distribute treats safely. If you are handing out candy, always wash your hands before handling any treats. Serve only prepackaged foods. Avoid direct contact. Consider setting up an outdoor station with bagged treats. Wear a mask.

Fun ideas for a happy (and safe) Halloween during the pandemic
Illustration by Sam Coulter.

If you aren’t participating in trick-or-treat activities this year consider:

  • A sign stating, “Please no trick-or-treaters.” If a darkened porch light isn’t a strong enough deterrent, a sign will make your preference clear. 

  1. Celebrate in other ways at home. Here are some ideas: 

    1. Carve pumpkins with members of your household or outside with neighbors.

    2. Don a costume and take a walk to admire neighborhood Halloween decorations.

    3. Play a board game or have a scary movie night.

    4. Create a fall-themed scavenger hunt for kids or hide candy around the house.

    5. Instead of pumpkins, carve potatoes, turnips and other root vegetables, like people did centuries ago.

    6. Brew up a batch of cider or punch in your favorite kitchen cauldron. When you’re done, add dry ice to create a mysterious mist.

    7. Make and decorate Halloween-themed candies or appetizers.

    8. Have a backyard bonfire and share spooky stories.