Alternatives for a safe Halloween during COVID-19

Halloween 2020 (c)

This year has been different than, well, pretty much any year in memory – and that’s an understatement. And with Halloween only weeks away, there are a lot of questions and concerns about how to celebrate the holiday safely. Usually Halloween is a joyous time filled with laughter and, true, shrieking. While there is indeed a pandemic happening, that doesn’t mean that you have to completely ignore Halloween. The CDC has a lot of suggestions about how to celebrate and have fun, and they even have it broken down by the level of risk each activity presents. Here are a few options for making this Halloween during COVID-19 fun and safe.

Tips for safety for Halloween during COVID-19.

Here are a few activities that the CDC classifies as low-risk:

1. Pumpkin carving.

Carving pumpkins is a classic fall or Halloween activity. And pumpkins can still be a part of Halloween during COVID-19. You can carve up some pumpkins with your family at home, or you can set up an outdoor carving session with some neighbors or friends (keeping every one at a safe distance from each other, of course). Then you can display the jack-o-lanterns for people to see!

2. Scavenger hunt.

You can have a nice, fun Halloween that involves some exercise and fresh air by creating a list of Halloween or fall-related things for the kids to check off as you go for a walk. (And, you know, you can get the kids to burn off some energy as they go around and search for the items on the list.)

3. Candy hunt.

You can also stash candy around the house and have a “candy hunt” at home. Hey, you’ve got to make the kids work for it, right? So, let the kids have some fun, tear the house apart a bit, and search for some Halloween treats. They might be bummed because they can’t go trick-or-treating, but at least you can console them with their candy-hunt! (And that still gives you the opportunity to take some fun pictures.)

4. Having a video-call costume show.

You don’t have to completely eschew costumes this year. You can use video calls to do a costume fashion show. There’s a lot of ways you can let the kids show off the great costumes they picked out.

Halloween during COVID-19

5. Having Halloween movie night.

You can also arrange to have a Halloween movie night. That can help everyone get in the spirit of the holiday. So, fix up some fun snacks, choose some Halloween movies, and settle in. (And don’t forget the candy, of course!) That’s a safe way to do Halloween during COVID-19.

Moderate risk.

There are other activities to celebrate Halloween during COVID-19 that the CDC says are “moderate risk”. You have to take stock of the risk that your plans have – be aware of the community spread in your area. If the numbers aren’t great, you might want to reconsider going out and stay in instead. And if you’ll be doing activities with any other families, ask what precautions have been taken leading up to the event and what precautions will be taken at the event.

6. “One-way” trick-or-treat.

Now, you might be wondering how you can still give out candy to adorable trick-or-treaters. You can set up what the CDC calls “one way” trick-or-treating by creating a station for goodie bags at the end of the driveway. You can set the goodie bags apart from each other so people can stay distanced. Just be sure to wash your hands properly before you make the goodie bags. There are a few other creative suggestions for handing our candy, like creating a “candy slide” out of cardboard or making a spiderweb you can attach the goodie bags to.

One more thing – it’s really, really important not to give out candy if you’re sick. You might just sit this Halloween out. (And even if you’re healthy, don’t forget to wear a protective mask.)

7. Having a small outdoor costume party.

You can arrange a small, reasonable outdoor costume party. Just be sure to adhere to relevant guidelines for safety. That means masks and social distancing. It’s really important to keep everything safe and to take appropriate precautions. Remember, the Halloween costume mask you want to wear doesn’t take the place of a protective cloth mask, according to the CDC. A costume mask isn’t going to cut it unless it has two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your nose and your mouth and doesn’t have any gaps. Oh, and the CDC also cautions against placing a costume mask over a protective mask because that makes it hard to breathe. You can just use a protective cloth mask that is Halloween-themed.

(And here’s an arts and craft activity – why not decorate Halloween protective masks with the kids? You can really make them fun!)

8. Going to an outdoor haunted forest.

If you’re into the whole “haunted house” thing, there’s an alternative that’s more COVID-19 safe. You can consider an outdoor haunted forest where people can only travel in one direction. There should also be mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing so people will be six feet apart. But keep in mind that if you think things are going to get scary and there will be screaming, the distance has to be increased. That can help reduce the risk of viruses spreading.

9. Visiting a pumpkin patch.

You can visit a pumpkin patch where people have to use hand sanitizer, wearing a mask is mandatory, and people need to social distance. That way you can enjoy some fall fun while also staying safe. Just remember that you need to take appropriate precautions.

10. Doing an outdoor movie night.

You can also try an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends. Keep people six feet apart, have masks, and have the hand sanitizers. Again, increase the distance between people if there’s going to be screaming involved.


Now, the CDC classifies the following activities as high-risk. That means you should probably avoid them.

  • Traditional trick-or-treat
  • Trunk-or-treat where people congregate in a parking lot and hand out candy from their cars
  • Indoor haunted houses where people will be crowded together and where they’ll likely be screaming
  • Hayrides or tractor rides where you’ll be with people who aren’t in your household
  • Drinking, which can impair judgement

(And you probably shouldn’t go to a rural fall festival not in the community if you’re in an area with a lot of community spread.)

The coronavirus doesn’t have to make Halloween a no-go. There are alternative activities you can do that will allow you to both have Halloween fun and stay safe. The CDC has suggestions for what activities are low, moderate, and high risk. Depending on your family and your comfort level, you can choose how you want to celebrate Halloween.

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