Posted by Michael Barber, October 07, 2020 (last updated on October 09, 2020)
The thought of celebrating Halloween during a pandemic can be a little scary. But it can still be incredibly fun. Going trick-or-treating, throwing parties, and visiting haunted houses are examples of Halloween activities that may be risky amid COVID-19 or not allowed in your location. However, you and your family can still enjoy these long-held traditions with a “COVID twist” while practicing the necessary precautions and staying safe.
Want to have fun this Halloween and need ideas on how to do it safely? Here are 13 fun ways to celebrate Halloween this year while keeping you and your loved ones safe from COVID-19.
1. Decorate Face Masks
Because face mask coverings are mandated in most states across the U.S., consider making a series of Halloween-themed face masks to wear during October and on the 31st.
Though Halloween is one of the only holidays on which you’d typically dress up and wear a mask as a fun way to celebrate, the CDC recommends against wearing costume masks in place of cloth masks. People should only wear a costume mask in place of a cloth mask if it is breathable and has at least two layers of fabric that cover the mouth and nose and fits well enough that there are no gaps around the face. Also, avoid wearing cloth masks under costume masks since it may cause breathing difficulty.
Search online for DIY Halloween face mask tutorials, which are multiplying quickly as families prepare for a COVID-19 Halloween. Even if you’re not artistic, there are plenty of easy patterns you can use to create spooky-looking face masks. Take extra care to use non-toxic paints and materials, keeping in mind that these materials will be on your mask and should allow you to breathe easily and safely.
2. Carve or Decorate Pumpkins
Carving and decorating pumpkins is a long-held Halloween tradition that doesn’t have to change during COVID-19. Some people are even putting a COVID-themed spin on pumpkin carving this year and putting face masks on their jack-o'-lanterns.
Buy pumpkins at your local pumpkin patch or grocery store and schedule a night during which you can carve or decorate them with your family. Or, work with your friends, neighbors, and community members to set up long tables outdoors, and decorate or carve your pumpkins while practicing social distancing. Then, display your pumpkins proudly outside your home to show your community that COVID-19 won’t be stopping you from having a fun Halloween this year.
3. Bake Your Favorite Halloween Treats
Instead of buying Halloween candies and treats this year, consider making your own at home. Ask everyone in your household to name their favorite dessert, then make plans to prepare a homemade version of each one to enjoy on Halloween night. The Internet is home to an endless number of Halloween-themed desserts if you need inspiration and ideas.
Aim to buy all-natural or organic ingredients that lack lots of preservatives so you can keep your immunity high while indulging in your favorite sweets.
4. Decorate Your Home
Even if you decide to stay home on Halloween, decorate the inside and outside of your home, which can help you get into the fall and Halloween spirit. Many Halloween decorations such as cobwebs and window clings are relatively inexpensive and can be found online or at your local dollar store or party supply store. You could also make your own creative decorations with your family.
Decorating the outside of your home is a fun way to get your community into the spirit of Halloween, especially since people can drive by to admire your decorations without having to get out of their vehicles. You may also consider chatting with your neighbors to get everyone on the same page in regards to decorating your street or housing development. Other people in your community can take a few moments to drive through your neighborhood and enjoy the spooky sights.
5. Have a Scary Movie Marathon
Instead of heading outdoors to celebrate Halloween in the chilly fall weather, stay inside and make plans to have a scary movie marathon.
Ask each member of your household to pick their favorite scary movie. Order pizza or your favorite dinner using a contactless delivery service, then arrange to have popcorn or your other favorite movie snacks on hand. Then, take turns watching everyone’s favorite flick as you cuddle under warm, cozy blankets. If anyone needs help staying awake, make pumpkin-flavored chai tea, coffee, or lattes.
If you live alone or have children who would rather watch movies with their friends, arrange to have others join you while video chatting. Have everyone start the movie at the same time, then keep a video chat session open on your computer or mobile device so everyone can shriek, laugh, and comment as if you were all together watching it in person.
6. Go To the Drive-In Movie Theater
Many indoor movie theaters are remaining closed due to safety concerns and potential problems with social distancing. However, outdoor drive-in theaters are making a major comeback and have reopened across the U.S. to serve movie-goers who want to minimize their exposure to COVID-19.
Check to see whether your local drive-in movie theater is showing scary movies this Halloween, then buy tickets ahead of time to reserve a parking spot. Going to the drive-in is a fun outdoor activity you can do without putting you and your family at high risk for COVID-19.
7. Organize a Halloween Scavenger Hunt
An outdoor Halloween scavenger hunt can be a fun way for children to hunt for goodies while practicing social distancing. This activity is ideal for neighborhoods that want to provide children with a fun Halloween experience in areas where trick-or-treating may be banned or prohibited to enforce COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Devise a list of Halloween-themed items or landmarks in your neighborhood that can be easily spotted by children, then distribute these lists to kids who can look for these things as they walk around and practice social distancing. You may even consider handing out awards such as bags of candy and other Halloween-themed prizes to the first few children who can find everything on the list.
If you’d rather stay inside with your children, organize an indoor scavenger hunt. Hide pieces of candy or glow-in-the-dark Halloween eggs throughout the house, along with pieces of paper that contain clues as to where your children can find the next prize. Consider having a grand prize waiting for them at the end of the scavenger hunt, such as a new book or toy.
8. Visit a Drive-Thru Haunted House
Many places around the U.S. are creating elaborate drive-thru haunted houses that allow people to experience spooky sights and scares from the safety of their vehicles. This eliminates the risk of coming into close contact with others while navigating haunted houses in the dark and reduces the aerosol spread of COVID-19 that can occur when people scream.
Search online for local drive-thru haunted houses that may be popping up in your city as Halloween approaches. Most drive-thru haunted houses are charging one fee per vehicle, so load up everyone in your household to get your money’s worth.
9. Try a Halloween Escape Room
A Halloween-themed escape room may be a fun, safe way to fulfill your haunted house fix while minimizing your exposure to COVID-19. An escape room is a game in which a group of people are assembled in a room and have a limited amount of time in which to figure out how to escape the room using various clues and puzzles inside the room.
Visit an escape room with only the members of your household, and confirm that the business follows COVID-19 safety protocols, such as enforcing social distancing, wearing face coverings, and disinfecting surfaces after each party uses an escape room. Avoid going to escape rooms that may put you in a group with strangers.
10. Host a Virtual Costume Contest
An online costume contest is a fun, safe alternative to costume contests held at bars and other venues with large gatherings of people. Choose a fun theme or category such as celebrities, foods, or memes, then offer incentives or prizes such as gift cards to encourage people to participate.
Benefits to hosting a virtual costume contest (aside from minimizing COVID-19 exposure) include staying in the comfort of your warm home, not having to drive anywhere (especially if you plan on drinking), and not having to traipse around in uncomfortable clothing or shoes that make up your costume. A virtual costume contest is also a fun way for your children to show off their costumes while staying safe from COVID-19. You can post your favorite costumes on social media, too.
11. Attend an Outdoor Costume Parade or Contest
An outdoor costume parade or costume contest can be safe as long as you and other attendees practice social distancing and wear face coverings. Many of these types of outdoor events are being hosted by restaurants, bars, and other venues and businesses that want to maintain their annual Halloween traditions. Search online for local outdoor costume parades and costume contests, and make sure the event hosts have proper safety guidelines in place.
12. Do One-Way Trick-or-Treating
If you live in a city or state that has not prohibited trick-or-treating this year due to COVID-19, arrange for one-way trick-or-treating at your home instead of allowing kids to come to your door for candy. This prevents kids from passing one another on your sidewalk and from having to touch the door or doorbell—all of which can increase their exposure to COVID-19.
To set up one-way trick-or-treating, line up individually wrapped goodie bags or candies on a table at the edge of your yard or the end of your driveway. This allows children to easily grab the bags while continuing to stay 6 feet away from others and without having to navigate any narrow paths up to your door.
Some Trick or Treat hosts are using stairs leading up to their front porches and setting up long tubes that serve as candy chutes to encourage social distancing. Others are erecting fake tombstones in their yards spaced 6 feet apart so children can safely grab candies while maintaining a safe distance from one another.
13. Engage In Trunk-Or-Treating
Trunk-or-treating is a new Halloween trend in which vehicles park at least 6 feet away from one another in a large parking lot, and open their trunks to display large boxes of candy and other goodies. Children can then visit each vehicle while practicing social distancing and grab an individually wrapped candy or goody bag. Participants who are offering candy from their vehicles are being encouraged to space out each candy or goody so children aren’t reaching into boxes or bags of candy and touching multiple pieces with their hands.
Risks to Avoid During a COVID Halloween
The CDC recommends that before you celebrate Halloween this year, take time to assess the current COVID-19 levels in your community. If you live in a COVID hotspot region, make plans to stay at home on Halloween, if possible.
Avoid these activities that may put you and your family at risk for COVID-19 this Halloween:
- Going trick-or-treating in large groups
- Interacting with strangers face to face
- Touching doorbells, doors, candies, toys, and other surfaces
- Sharing candies with friends
- Going to an indoor haunted house
- Attending indoor parties
- Using drugs and alcohol, as these substances may increase risky behavior
- Attending a rural fall or Halloween festival if you are from a COVID hotspot
If you do go out, practice social distancing, wash your hands often or at least use hand sanitizer, wear a face covering, and consider outdoor vs indoor gatherings, small vs large gatherings, and short-lasting vs long-lasting gatherings. People with COVID-19 or at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are advised against attending any in-person gatherings.
All these precautions are critical to keeping you and your family safe and healthy this Halloween and throughout the holiday season. And if you believe you have any of the COVID-19 symptoms, you should get a COVID test before participating any Halloween activities out of your home.