After celebrating my daughter’s worst birthday ever, we’re looking ahead to the official start of the Holiday Season: Halloween. Because it has to get better, right? Yeah. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released its Holiday Celebrations Guidelines, and folks, it does not get better. Let me just lay this spoiler out right now: trick-or-treating is out. And when you think about it, it makes sense. You may have seen the folks who’ve cleverly designed PVC slides to safely deliver candy to trick-or-treaters. But that doesn’t keep face coverings on kiddos or help in the necessary six-foot social distancing. (As my nine-year-old said when we asked her about how social distancing was going in the hallways at school: “No one cares about those dots on the floor.”) In a neighborhood like mine that sees around 1,000 kids in two hours, there’s no way those kids are going to manage to maintain social distancing. Trick-or-treating simply can’t be done safely. So, what’s the CDC suggesting instead? Are they cancelling Halloween? Well, not exactly. Here’s what they have to say.
A lot of the activities that “make the season” for many of us are in the highest risk category when it comes to spreading COVID-19. These include trunk-or-treats, crowded indoor costume parties, indoor haunted houses, and hay/tractor rides with people who aren’t in your household. Bummer.
The moderate risk category includes things like visiting pumpkin patches or apple orchards that require face masks and hand sanitizing, and that maintain social distancing. You can also do a socially distanced outdoor movie night with family friends (hooray for all you Hocus Pocus fans out there!). A socially distanced outdoor costume party could work, just be sure you wear a non-Halloween face mask. And don’t combine a Halloween mask with a COVID face covering; instead incorporate your face covering into your costume. Have a small group socially distanced costume parade—let those kids show off their awesome costumes. I don’t know about your kids, but my daughter has come around to no trick-or-treating; she is however, still insisting on an awesome costume. And this final recommendation is my favorite: a one-way trick-or-treat where kids remain socially distant and pick up goodie bags at the end of a driveway or the edge of a yard. While I don’t live in a neighborhood where this would work, I know friends who do, and I think it’s an amazing idea. You could also set this up with friends in other neighborhoods and do a drive-by trick-or-trick. Include pictures of the kids in their costumes inside the goodie bags so everyone can see their friends all dressed up.
The low risk category includes things you can do with your family group, like decorating your house. You could carve pumpkins with your family or, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends. You can arrange a virtual Halloween costume contest. A trick-or-treat scavenger hunt in your house and yard can be a fun way to deliver Halloween candy to your children. Maybe bust out the Easter eggs off-season and use those to hide Halloween candy in the yard—do a glow in the dark egg hunt for a fun, spooky effect.
While my city hasn’t cancelled trick-or-treat (yet), they have cancelled their annual downtown daytime trick-or-treat event, and we’re starting to see surrounding towns cancel trick-or-treat. We’re also starting to hear friends who are saying that even if trick-or-treat happens, they personally won’t participate. It’s worth reading over the CDC guidelines and deciding what level of risk your family is willing to take and to start planning accordingly. Even without some of the big Halloween traditions, you can still have a lot of fun this socially distant Halloween by thinking outside the box.