October 13, 2021 | By Tabitha Andrews Orth and Mari Wagner Davis
Every parent or caring adult knows all kids have gone through enough during the past few years. They deserve to have a fun and memorable Halloween celebration, keeping in mind the Covid-19 rules and mandates still in place in many states and countries.
Trick-or-treating was certainly different last year and may be this year as well. Whether the area you live has scheduled full door to door trick or treating or modified events, you can make sure every child gets to experience the candy, the costumes, and the fun of this truly kid-friendly event. Here are some tricks you can use to make this Halloween a treat for most families. This is an opportunity whether out of need to simply to create a new and fun Halloween tradition for many of us to get creative and enjoy this wonderful time-honored day!
AT-HOME EVENTS (for Small Kids and Immunocompromised Attendees)
Stage a Trick-or-Treat in Your Home: Set out buckets of candy in different rooms, decorate each door in a special way, and play Halloween music. Instead of going door-to-door in the neighborhood, kids go door-to-door in your house. Add to the fun by carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them.
Do a Twilight Hunt: Adhere glow-in-the-dark stickers to goody bags and hide them all over the backyard. At dusk, give each child a small flashlight and send them searching for treasure. Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with friends or neighbors, is an added bonus.
Host a Mask Costume Contest on Zoom: Pictures can be submitted to an appointed judge. Then, friends submit to design the judge the designs of personal or a family’s set of face masks. Gather together over Zoom to see who has come up with the award-winning single mask and set of masks.
Create a Backyard A-Maze: Set up a family obstacle course with booby traps and haunts. Ask the kids to collect balls to win a prize. A few options here would be:
- Spray them with Silly String as they grab candy.
- Get them to venture behind caution tape where another family member can jump out from a hiding spot.
- Setting up a series of weblike structures that make the kids crawl under the webs to reach goodies.
Stage a Halloween-Themed Meal: Organize a Halloween-themed meal at home with your family members. Get creative with your meal choices, thinking up fun ways to present traditional meal items geared toward this holiday. Need help? Check out the Weelicious blog for some fun ideas!
The Halloween-themed meal described above can also be staged for larger groups, too, in an outdoor location when eating and socializing with larger groups. In fact, there’s an opportunity to maximize the fun for adults if there’s competition involved in either the set-up or the food – or both!
Organize a Schoolwide or Other Parking Lot Trick-or-Treat: If the weather will cooperate, it’s easy enough to stage this in a large, local parking lot. Decorate the cars or trunks before gathering to give and receive candy. With everyone wearing a face mask, park in alternate spots, and place cones six feet from each car’s trunk. Include a rope at the end of each cone that’s clipped with candy for trick-or-treaters. By planning this in advance, you may be able to ask businesses inclined to participate (especially those are geared toward children) to donate candy, coupons or other treats to the event. If the space allows this, add an outdoor Halloween movie with people/families spaced six feet apart.
Do a Window Treasure Hunt: Pick a Halloween symbol – something simple like a witch’s hat – and then let the kids cruise the neighborhood to try to find as many as they can. This works best by coordinating in advance with neighbors, encouraging them to dress appropriately and creating a station outside of each participating home with glow tape to mark social distancing. Toss treat bags or stock a station made up as a caldron or witch’s table with treats, so each child can come up to it to get a treat left by the retreating witch. Lights and music can enhance this event dramatically! Other fun ideas for this are in this video, including how to make glow-in-the-dark chalk to create social distancing, games, a maze that gives clues to the next treat stations, etc. Let your imagination guide you.
Host a Zoom Costume Party or a Photo Shoot: Have a Zoom costume party to demonstrate your creativity. For safe social distancing, dress the kids up, set up a backdrop outside and let each of them ham it up for their own mini photo shoot. Give treats and prizes to all participants and a memorable photo to make the occasion.
Reversed Trick-or-Treating: Organize a “You’ve Been Booed” event with your friends and neighbors. Get the word out by text, e-mail or phone to explain the game, asking people to sign up for a “Secret Boo.” Every participant’s name is put in a bag and each person is assigned who they will “Boo” by a drawing. Ring the doorbell of the person’s name you receive, leaving a bag of goodies out front, and running away before the door is opened. Tape a big sign to the bag that says, “You’ve Been Booed!” along with the recipient’s name and signed by the giver so they know whom to thank.
Host an Online Jack-o-lantern Event: Make sure entries are put in age categories – painting for the kids and carving for adults – so pumpkin art is judged among peer groups. Pictures can be submitted to an appointed judge. Have treats and prizes for all participants. In the event this is done in a neighborhood, light your jack-o-lanterns at a marked social distance when it’s dark enough to see each work of art. Judging and treat- and prize-giving can be done at a social distance.
Organize a Halloween Car Parade: Car parades can be a lot of fun. Music and lights can add to your Halloween caravan. Create a “drive-by event” or contest where individuals dress up or decorate their vehicles and drive by multiple judges’ homes, with a Zoom event after for awarding prizes.
“Drive-through events” are where individuals remain in their vehicles in an area with Halloween displays. Participants can receive a treat bag of commercially packaged non-perishable treats. Contact local places of worship, schools and locations that have large parking lots to see if you can arrange an event at a central location.
Door Decorating Competition: Get neighbors, friends and family living nearby to sign up for a door decorating competition. Then walk or drive by each house to view the spooky scenes. Arrange for treat-giving at each location by texting or calling the house to announce your arrival. Treats can be placed on the hood of your car (hopefully by someone in costume) so the kids can get out and retrieve their treats while social distancing. Again, appoint a judge in advance and host a Zoom after to award prizes for the best door.
Halloween Window Letter Hunt for Kids: This is a great activity that still involves the neighborhood! Contact your neighbors via text, phone or a neighborhood Facebook group. Pick a secret word relating to Halloween, e.g. Ghost, Witch, Goblin, Frankenstein or Vampire. Each home participating is assigned a letter in the secret word. They then create the letter they are assigned with Halloween art. Here is a link to inspire you. A list of participating addresses is posted in front of each participating house so passersby can join in the fun and everyone has the correct addresses. Walk or drive to each house on your list and look for the letter that will be posted by a specific date and time to signify the beginning of the hunt. Make a note of each letter you find at each house. At the end of the hunt, unscramble the letters to solve the word scramble puzzle and discover what the secret word is. Text the organizer the secret word so they know you have solved the trick. Celebrate solving the puzzle trick by having a Halloween-themed meal at home, a special dessert, Halloween family movie time or a candy hunt in your yard or home.
Visit a Pumpkin Patch or Orchard: Be sure in advance that attendees use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, and that wearing masks in enforced as is social distancing.
A Few Key Notes to Remember
- If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after prepping the bags.
- A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask shouldn’t be used unless it’s made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose, leaving no gaps around the face and mouth, leaving no gaps around the face.
- Don’t wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask interferes with normal breathing. Consider getting creative by using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
- If screaming will occur, greater social distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
- If you attend any event, ensure appropriate mask use is required and enforced, and that all groups remain more than six feet apart.
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