“Like with so many other things this year, we have to try to find a silver lining when it comes to celebrating Halloween,” said Seattle, Washington-area pediatrician Dr. Mollie Grow. “All the things we’d usually do-in person, like birthdays or graduations, we’ve figured out other ways to do them safely, so we need to apply that same creativity to Halloween.”
Avoiding large gatherings is still important this Halloween, Grow stressed, so here are some creative ways to still celebrate and enjoy Halloween while limiting how many people you encounter.
Design your own costumes
“Every year as a family we pick a costume theme and design our own costumes,” said Grow. “This year, we’re going to try to do that still. We just might need to be more creative. For many families, one benefit of the pandemic is that we’ve had more time together. Let kids pick out their costumes and help design a matching mask to wear.”
Make fall recipes as a family
“Give kids the opportunity to pick a recipe and make it together,” said Grow. “My kids are so much happier when we take the time to do a recipe as a family. Let your kids help plan and prepare the meal or treat you’re making and have fun!”
Trick-or-treat around the house
This is a great, literally close-to-home option for those not venturing out on the 31st. “Have kids find hidden candy,” recommended Grow. Turn off the lights, give the kids a flashlight and let them at it. Sure, your couch cushions will be upended, but you'll have created precious, messy memories.
Go on a BINGO hike
“Look for things together on the trail and check off an item on the card when you see it,” said Grow. “We saw a family doing this, and I thought it was such a great idea!”
Decorate for your neighbors
Now’s the time to be neighborly — safely, of course. “Make Halloween drawings or a greeting card for a friend or neighbor,” recommended Grow. “Anything that fosters community is great; it gives a sense of neighborliness. It is a win-win: You get to do something kind for a neighbor and also work on a project as a family.”
Experts advise parents to do as many activities outdoors as possible to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. “Avoid going in other homes even if they are friends and family; keep trick or treating an outdoor activity,” said pediatrician and author Dr. Jarret Patton of Reading, PA. “After you visit each individual house, keep the hand sanitizer ready and available.”
Also, if you are handing out treats, it’s best to give them outside preferably by one person rather than having a large amount of children reaching in and grabbing treats.
Plan a small get-together
If your kids are craving a more traditional Halloween that is. “Limit the number of children per hangout — a bonus is your child can wear their costume a few times or even rotate,” said Dr. Charalynn Harris, senior epidemiologist at Unity Band. “Make sure kids are wearing masks; keep lots of sanitizer on hand and make sure to take regular breaks for handwashing. Also, I recommend requiring a negative COVID test within 48 hours of the party.”
Opt for socially distant games
The classics never go out of style! Games such as cornhole and Halloween Hopscotch involve lots of rotation and activity, which are easier to socially distance, said Dr. Harris, versus games like bobbing for apples.
Throw a neighborhood parade
This is a classic and fun way for kids to show off their awesome costumes. “Be sure to wear masks, keep six feet apart and pack lots of sanitizer,” reminds Dr. Harris.
Create candy bags for trick-or-treaters
OK, lets just cut to the chase here—kids go ga ga for goody bags. Why not create a bunch of them with your family to safely distribute on Halloween instead of holding out a big candy bowl? “I recommend avoiding large pots of candy as you'll have too many grubby fingers in one place,” says California-based wellness expert and dad Dr. Gregory Charlop. “Alternatively, you can leave small individual bags of candy that the kids can pick up on their own.” (Hopefully, they’ll be very considerate and just take one bag each!)
Grab-and-go bags are fun to decorate with your kids, and you can often find them in many different patterns, colors, and shapes. (They can even be re-used!)