The global COVID-19 pandemic has stolen a lot of things from 2020, but you probably aren’t willing to let it take Halloween away — especially if you have kids. Just the same, it’s hard to anticipate whether trick-or-treat night will suddenly be canceled in any given community because of rising infection rates in an area. Even if it’s not, you simply may not feel comfortable exposing your children (or yourself) to potential contagion while going from one strange house to another.
Well, never fear! You can make this Halloween loads of fun with just a little ingenuity and effort. Here are some of the most spooktacular ideas we’ve encountered:
Have a Halloween Costume Parade
One of the best parts about Halloween is that you get a chance to try out your imagination and dress up almost any way you want. With the right outfit, you can be a cat, a princess, a robot or a monster for the night — it’s totally up to you!
Kids and adults alike may enjoy holding a Halloween parade in full costume. Talk to your homeowners association or get the parents in your neighborhood together in a chat room and see if you can get something going. There will be photo opportunities galore for the parents, the kids will get some laughs and you can put out a plate of cookies for a sweet reward when everyone gets home.
Do a Neighborhood Boo-by with Some Treats
A “Boo-by” is a charming reversal of the expected Halloween activity. Instead of knocking on someone’s door and asking for treats, you knock on the door and run away — leaving behind a small bag of candy or other treats for the household residents to discover. Add a small note telling them they’ve been “booed” and your heartfelt wishes for a happy holiday season.
This can be particularly fun to do with your kids if you let them dress up in their costumes to make the deliveries — and your friends, relatives or neighbors will no doubt be delighted with the candy.
Decorate Pumpkins and Masks
If you’d rather skip any contact with people outside of your own household right now, that’s okay: There are still plenty of ways to celebrate the season at home without missing out. One of our favorites is just letting the kids express their creativity by decorating some Halloween masks and pumpkins.
Get a few pumpkins from your local pumpkin farm and buy some plain masquerade-style masks. Gather up the craft paint, the glue, the glitter and any crafty odds or ends you have lying around the house and let the kids go crazy. The masks can be hung on the wall for decoration and the pumpkins will make a nice seasonal display outside your door.
Arrange a Halloween Hunt
This works just like an Easter egg hunt, only you get to make it spooky and sweet. If you have a big backyard, you can hide small treats and Halloween-related toys (like spider rings, skull pens and vampire fangs) out there and send the kids on a scavenger hunt with their bags.
If it’s too cold for that or you don’t want to risk anything being left in the yard, hide the treats around the house, turn off the lights and give each kid a flashlight for the search. They can even dress up in their costumes during the hunt, which will make them feel like they’re getting the full holiday experience (and give you a chance to take photos).
Hold Spooky Story Night
Grab some pillows and blankets, have everyone in your house put their pajamas on early, and get the popcorn ready: Spooky movies are the absolute best during Halloween season. Pick one or two of your favorites and gather the whole clan around for a much-needed respite from reality.
If you’re short on ideas for family-friendly Halloween movies, check out “The Addams Family (2019),” “The House with a Clock in Its Walls,” “Paranorman,” or “Halloweentown.” If your kids are a little older, you can try introducing them to pop-culture classics like “Beetlejuice” or “Ghostbusters.”
If movies aren’t your thing, try turning off the lights and reading some fun little Halloween stories to your kids by flashlight. “Skeleton Cat,” “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat” and “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything” are some kid-friendly favorites that aren’t too scary for the little ones in your house.
Make Old-Fashioned Halloween Treats
Maybe it’s time to resurrect a few ghosts of Halloween-past: We’re talking about some of the traditional, homemade treats that used to be seen at this time of year before store-bought candy became popular to pass out.
Homemade popcorn balls are a delight that everyone should experience at least once, and candy-coated or caramel apples never hurt anybody’s feelings. If you carved jack-o-lanterns this year, save the seeds and look for an easy recipe for roasting them — they taste nothing like the ones you buy at the store! (This is also the perfect activity to combine with Spooky Story Night if you want to make the holiday extra special.)
Ultimately, Halloween is all about letting your imagination run wild, so feel free to make up your own rules about how to celebrate the season this year. You’ll have so much fun and create so many wonderful memories that nobody will miss trick-or-treating.