You can still have your tricks and treats—with a twist.

By Lisa Milbrand
September 01, 2020
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At this point, we’ve mastered the Zoom party, the socially distanced backyard soiree, and the safest way to host family and friends. Now we get to put our newfound safe socializing skills to the test with the first big event of the fall/winter holiday season: Halloween.

With Halloween falling on a Saturday this year and several challenging months behind us (and likely more to come), it’s only natural that people want to celebrate, big time. But many of the traditional things to do on Halloween—parties, parades, haunted houses, and crowds of kids trick-or-treating—may feel a little questionable during a pandemic.

But don’t cancel your Halloween costume order or forget your ideas for easy Halloween costumes just yet. With a little creativity, you can still have a spooky time without putting your health or the health of others at risk. Read on for our smart ideas for a safe Halloween 2020 during coronavirus.

1

Trick-or-treating may still be in the cards, as long as the COVID-19 numbers near you are relatively low.

“Just like we check the weather on Halloween to see what precautions and extra gear might be needed, knowing the current state of COVID-19 in your community will be important in determining if it is safe or not,” says Michelle Barron, MD, medical director for infection prevention and control at UCHealth in Aurora, Colo. “Follow the current rules and guidance being given at the state and local level, and do a risk/benefit analysis based on the health of the individuals trick-or-treating and those who live in the household and decide if the risk of getting potentially exposed to someone with COVID-19 is worth the bag of treats.”

If you can’t trick or treat the traditional way due to the pandemic, look for ways to manage it creatively. You can buy your kiddo’s favorite candy and let her trick-or-treat door to door within your house, or have her walk through the neighborhood so she can show off her costume, then come home to a special treat or toy.

2

Dr. Barron recommends individually wrapping up treats and putting them out in your yard or on your stoop so there’s space between the bags for people to easily pick them up. You can put them on a blanket on the lawn or a table on your driveway or porch. And if you’re game to go through a lot of hand sanitizer and wear a mask, you could still hand out the treats yourself.

“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,” Dr. Barron says. “This is probably a better approach than having a bowl that many hands can reach into at one time.”

3

This is the year to break out your ninja costume—or slip a second safety mask under your Michael Myers or ghost masks: whatever you have to do to make a Halloween costume with a mask. Doubling up the masks is safe, Dr. Barron says, but comfort is also key.

“If you are wearing another mask under a rubber mask, you want to make sure that it doesn't get too hot and that the person wearing it can easily breathe,” she says.

Sadly, your Halloween mask probably isn’t up to par as a safety device. “Most Halloween masks are not designed to contain droplets,” Dr. Barron says.

4

As with most entertaining these days, outdoors (and small) is best if you want to throw a Halloween party.

“Masking and social distancing are still important,” Dr. Barron says. “Food and drinks should be prepackaged or in single servings and hand sanitizers should be readily accessible. Setting up chairs and tables so that everyone can be social but still maintain space between each other should be considered.”

5

If you’re a big fan of picking pumpkins, hay mazes, costume parades, and haunted houses, you may still be able to take part. But do your research beforehand to see how they’re planning to make it safer (such as limiting participants or requiring masks), to see if you’re comfortable with their plans. And as with everything else, outdoors is better.

“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,” Dr. Barron says.

6

There are plenty of ways to get your Halloween on, so think outside the box. Set up a movie projector and screen and host a marathon of your favorite Halloween movies on Netflix in your backyard for a few friends, or host a Zoom dance party where your friends can gather and learn the “Thriller” choreography or do the “Time Warp” all together.

“Let creativity reign!” Dr. Barron advises. “I never thought I would have fun at Zoom Dance party, but I did this for a friend's birthday and it was pretty great.” You never know what might become a new Halloween tradition.