Get creative with tricks and treats, shall we?

The world's biggest terror this year, COVID-19, has already jeopardized our daily lives and happiness. People are still getting accustomed to the "new normal" of canceled events, social distancing, wearing face masks, taking online classes, and offering virtual hugs! So with Halloween less than two months away now, many wonder if the virus will cancel this much-loved tradition, too.

This year's Halloween falls on a Saturday and on a night with a full moon, making it perfect for a whole day of candies, goodies, celebrations, and spookiness. And though, this time, Halloween will witness something scarier than all the witches and zombies (the pandemic!), it's important to remember that it's not canceled yet!

A recent survey from the National Confectioners Association (NCA) suggested that most Americans, especially parents, are looking forward to celebrating Halloween—just probably in a safer way—to bring back some normalcy in these uncertain times.

“Consumers report that they will be getting creative throughout the month of October to make sure that they can stay safe and still enjoy the Halloween season. The results of our research reveal a deeply rooted enthusiasm for Halloween, even if it means that people have to rethink their approach this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said John Downs, president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association. 

That being said, Halloween is going to be a lot different this year. Here are some of our safety tips to celebrate a spooky Halloween amidst the pandemic.

1. Plan a safer trick-or-treat

Candy

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite from Pexels

For trick-or-treating, a lot will depend on your geographical location this year.

"In an area where there's still ongoing community spread [and things] haven't gotten to the point where things are opening up again, I don't think trick-or-treating is a great idea. In areas where the community prevalence is lower, I think it's okay to plan to trick-or-treat, but it's going to be a different experience than it was last year." said Dr. Sandra Kesh, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and the deputy medical director at New York's Westmed Medical Group.

The main risk of trick-or-treating lies in joining large groups, especially from other households and neighborhoods. Close contact (within 6 feet for more than 10 to 15 minutes) with anyone in large groups can highly increase the chance of falling sick, Dr. Kesh explained.

A creative and safe way to trick-or-treat could be to do it in your own house. Let your kiddos get dressed in their favorite costumes and then go trick-or-treating from room to room. You could answer each bedroom door with candy, or you could hide the candy throughout your home and make it like a scavenger hunt.

If you know your neighbors, consider coordinating a small spaced-out parade in the neighborhood, with everyone showing off their costumes, but while maintaining social distance.

“If you are going to hand out candy, I would recommend having a small bottle of hand sanitizer and using it before handing out the treats. This is probably a better approach than having a bowl that many hands can reach into at one time,” recommends Michelle Barron, MD, medical director for infection prevention and control at UCHealth in Aurora, Colorado. 

2. Do a grand decoration

Halloween

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Cheer up your kids (and your home!) with DIY Halloween decor! Spray-paint those empty wine bottles and pickle jars. Buy floating luminaries to make your porch spookier, and use wall decals to decorate your rooms with creepy witches and bats. Throw in some glow-in-the-dark-slime and some pumpkin-flavored brownies and you'll certainly bring smiles to your family's faces!

Keeping in mind how Halloween celebrations can be different this year, stores like Home Depot have stocked up on many cool decorations.

3. Host Zoom parties and contests

Zoom party

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Arrange for a virtual Halloween costume party with friends via Zoom. You can also plan for some fun games like bingo or charades or even a pumpkin-carving contest and arrange for prizes for the winners that can be delivered virtually, like gift cards!

4. Blend in a mask with your Halloween costume

Face mask

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Face masks come easy with costumes. Just remember: If your costume's mask does not cover up adequately, you'll want to double layer with a cloth mask. Since most costume masks do not protect from droplets, it is necessary to cover up your face with proper additional masks.

5. Plan an outdoor Halloween party

Halloween

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Throwing a small party on your backyard lawn is much safer than the typical indoor Halloween bash. Masks, sanitizers, and social distancing will still be in the cards, and make sure to serve pre-packaged food and drinks only. If setting up tables, keep enough space between groups to lower the risk of the infection.

6. Watch scary movies

Scary movies

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Scary movies are a must on Halloween! Watch hair-raising spooky movies with just your family on the couch, arrange for an outdoor movie night, or hold a Netflix party. Prepare some ghostly candies and snacks, and you are all set for the horror shows!

7. Research your local events

Halloween Pumpkin

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If you want to be a part of the community celebrations, check out the local Halloween events that may be going on in your state or city. Many organizers will follow safer protocols and may need early registration to avoid large crowds. "Drive-thru haunted houses" are a new contact-free way event in some places. Search your local events to see if there's one near you!

“Outdoor activities like pumpkin picking and corn mazes are great things to do and are probably lower risk than other types of indoor activities as long as masks are used and social distancing is adhered to,” says Dr. Barron.

Sticking to traditions in these difficult times can be comforting, but let your creativity flow. You never know; maybe Halloween fun can be even bigger this year!

Do you have any more fun ideas? Let us know in the comments!