Choosing costumes, decorating pumpkins, and getting special treats brings joy to many children at Halloween. Some Halloween traditions may look different this year to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are still plenty of ways families can have fun while avoiding the scare of being exposed to or spreading the virus.
Most importantly, keep doing what you have been doing: avoiding large gatherings, keeping a distance of six feet from others, wearing cloth face coverings (think superhero!), and washing hands often. Some ideas for ways to keep safety steps in place while celebrating:
Virtual costume parties & parades
Use video chats for an online party with friends and family and show off costumes and play games. Have fun with it! In cold climates, this may be the first time your child can wear a costume that isn’t buried under a parka! Outdoor costume parades are another option, if it is possible for everyone to stay at least 6 feet apart and wear cloth face coverings.
Remember: a costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth face covering unless it has multiple layers of breathable fabric and covers the mouth and nose snugly.
If children plan to use their cloth face coverings as part of their costumes, they should not paint them since some paints contain toxins.
Spooky movie night
Celebrate with a movie night and dress as your favorite characters. Do this as a family at home or consider letting your child watch with their friends while video chatting, with everyone starting the movie at the same time.
This is one Halloween tradition that’s as safe and fun as ever. As always, just be careful to avoid pumpkin carving injuries. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting. When the carving is done, consider putting a battery-operated light rather than an open-flame candle inside. Roast the seeds from the pumpkin for a healthy snack!
Make some fun Halloween treats as a family. Decorate a pizza with toppings in the shape of a jack-o’-lantern, for example, or make tangerine pumpkins (peel the tangerine and stick a thin slice of celery on top to look like a stem). Make sure the treats are not choking hazards if you have children under age 3.
Outdoor community events
Look for community events focused on safe ways to have fun. These may include programs offered by a park district, arboretum, zoo or other outdoor venues in your area. Stay away from crowds and clustering, and follow safe distance rules even when outdoors.
Avoid indoor events such as haunted houses. A local haunted forest or corn maze may be a better option, as long as cloth face covering use, physical distancing and one-way walk through is enforced. If you think there may be screaming, leave extra distance to lower the risk of spreading respiratory virus. If you go to a pumpkin patch or apple orchard, also use hand sanitizer before and after touching what you pick.
If your children will be outside, mark their costumes with reflective tape. Remind them to be careful around cars, as drivers may not see them. Make sure shoes fit well and costumes are short enough to prevent tripping or contact with flames.
If there is trick-or-treating in your community…
Trick-or-treating may be discouraged or cancelled in some areas this year. A family scavenger hunt for treats in your home or yard can be a fun alternative. If trick-or-treating is still on in your neighborhood, avoid large groups or clustering at doorsteps or anywhere else. If you hand out treats, consider sitting outside and lining up individually prepacked treat bags for families to take (don’t forget to wear your own mask!). Non-edible treats are a good option, especially for children who suffer from food allergies.
How much touching objects spreads the COVID-19 virus isn’t clear. But if your child collects treats from a few, socially distanced neighbors, you may want to wipe the packages or let them sit for a couple days before giving them to your child. And, of course, good hand hygiene like washing hands or using hand sanitizer before and after trick-or-treating is always a good idea!
Halloween during the COVID-19 pandemic is a chance for you and your children to get creative, and maybe even invent some new traditions for your family! It’s also a great opportunity to model flexibility and a positive spirit. If you’re excited and make it fun, your kids will have fun, too.
More importantly, this is a good time to teach children the importance of protecting not just themselves but others, as well. The decisions we make on this one day can have a ripple effect beyond our own families. Finding safe ways to celebrate can create magical memories.