It’s the spookiest time of the year, and coronavirus concerns are putting an even scarier twist on Halloween 2020. Your mind might be racing with worries that trick-or-treating and Halloween parties will infect your family or set off a fresh spike in your town.
You’re right to be concerned about viral spread from holiday celebrations, but that doesn’t mean all festivities have to be on the chopping block. With just a few changes to your typical traditions, you can still make this a Halloween to remember.
Avoid big crowds of Halloween revelers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines that categorize Halloween festivities into lower-, moderate- and higher-risk categories. Nearly anything likely to draw a crowd falls into the top tier.
That probably comes as no surprise. In crowded places, it can be hard to maintain the recommended 6-foot distancing, and people often raise their voices to be heard. Just a few sick people in a crowded place could lead to scores of new infections.
Many cities have already canceled their big Halloween events, but if parades or other crowd-pleasers are still going on in your area, think twice before attending. The same goes for bar parties, school carnivals, haunted houses and any other activity that might draw more than 50 attendees, exceed 50% room capacity or squeeze together people from different households.
The CDC encourages even greater caution if alcohol will be involved in a celebration. After a drink or two, partygoers are more likely to let down their guard.
Trick-or-treat with care.
In some neighborhoods, trick-or-treating automatically means crowds. Groups of children and parents weave past each other, and clumps of expectant kids gather at doors. For that reason, the CDC has placed standard trick-or-treating and parking lot trunk-or-treats in the higher-risk category.
For those who can’t bear to skip this tradition, though, there are ways to increase its safety. When pandemic precautions are in place, the CDC says that trick-or-treating moves to the moderate-risk category.
Handing Out Candy
The key is to create distance between you and your Halloween visitors. Consider setting up a table in your front yard with spaced-out goodie bags. Kids can walk up, grab one treat bag without touching the others and show you their costumes from a distance. You can restock the table between groups.
Some families are planning to build 6-foot chutes or slides that they can send goodies down as trick-or-treaters arrive. Just remember that the CDC recommends washing your hands for 20 seconds before touching treats. Keep your clean hands off your phone, your face and other surfaces while you’re on candy-distribution duty.
You may want to mark 6-foot lines in your yard to show where families should wait until it’s their turn to collect candy. You should also keep a mask on during the celebration and skip handing out treats if your family is unwell or under self-isolation orders.
According to the New York Times, it’s imperative that you wear a proper face covering while trick-or-treating. Halloween masks don’t count. If it’s hard to breathe with both an everyday mask and a costume mask, then leave the costume one at home.
Bringing along hand sanitizer is smart as well. Some parents may want their trick-or-treaters to wear gloves, too.
As always, if anyone in your family is sick or has been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please stay home.
Keep your celebrations outdoors.
In general, outside festivities are currently safer than indoor ones. Whenever possible, move your holiday activities to a place with fresh air.
If you have enough space in your backyard for friends to spread out, you may be able to host a small gathering. This could be a pumpkin-carving party, a costume contest or a movie night.
You might even feel comfortable taking your family on an outdoor autumn adventure. The experts at Johns Hopkins recommend visiting pumpkin patches and apple orchards. Hayrides, corn mazes and haunted forest walks can be acceptable, too, with the right safety precautions.
Being outdoors doesn’t mean you can forgo other precautions, of course. When gathering with other households, always wear masks and maintain at least a 6-foot separation between groups. Also, if your town is currently experiencing an outbreak, be cautious about visiting attractions in less-affected communities.
Focus on family fun.
According to the CDC, the safest people to hang out with this Halloween are the ones who live in your house. Brainstorm a list of spirited activities that you can do together, and make those your priority this year.
Carving pumpkins is an October tradition. If some of your typical activities have been canceled, think about filling the time with extra pumpkin carving. Challenge yourself to make detailed designs or to decorate an extra-big or extra-small pumpkin. Painting pumpkins can be a fun alternative if you have younger kids.
Your family might also enjoy the thrills of a Halloween movie marathon. Whether you prefer lighthearted spookiness or true horror, this season boasts a full range of film choices. Halloween is on a Saturday this year, so your movie lineup could begin first thing in the morning. Even better, run your marathon all month long.
Start a new Halloween tradition.
Instead of trying to make all your typical Halloween activities fit this year’s parameters, think about branching out with new traditions.
Parties from a Distance
Online events have become all the rage in 2020, so there might be virtual parties going on in your community. See if your local library can point you in the right direction. You may come across story hours, escape-room challenges or costume contests.
If you can’t find any prearranged events, think about hosting an online party of your own. Family and friends can show off their costumes and play digital games from afar.
For many people, driving around to see holiday decorations is a Christmas tradition. This year, make it an autumn activity as well. Whether you’d prefer to go on foot or by car, you may find plenty of pumpkin-decorated porches and spooky Halloween scenes around your community.
The CDC suggests turning this activity into a scavenger hunt. Write down a list of fall-themed decorations, and see how many you can check off during an afternoon of sightseeing.
Halloween Candy Hunt
Even with extra precautions in place, you might not feel comfortable taking your kids from house to house this year. Fortunately, your children may find at-home candy hunts to be a satisfactory substitute.
Turn to Easter traditions for inspiration. Scatter individual pieces of candy around your yard for kids to collect, or provide clues to treasures that are hidden throughout your house.
You could fill a pumpkin bucket with holiday goodies for the final prize. In addition to candy, the pail could include Halloween coloring books, stickers and other trinkets to keep your kids busy for the rest of the day.
Halloween might not look exactly like you’re accustomed to, but that doesn’t mean it’s canceled. With the proper precautions and a bit of creativity, Halloween 2020 can still be a spooktacular celebration that you’ll remember for years to come.