Well, it’s official: the CDC has officially declared that Halloween as we know it is a big no-no.
In peak 2020-fashion, the experts are telling us that with a highly contagious virus on the loose, door-to-door trick-or-treating probably isn’t the best idea. That means Halloween, like everything else this year, just may not be the same.
If you’re a Halloween nut, this might be the biggest disappointment in a string of pandemic-related disappointments, but don’t despair—Truly Mama has 10 ideas to help you give your children a Happy Halloween without any of the risk.
Hit the Backyard
Doing any traditionally indoor activity outdoors makes it extra special, so consider taking your movie night a step farther by getting in a movie projector (coolest quarantine product alert!), laying some blankets or bean bags out in the backyard, and doing this cozy, scary night on the lawn. Or, you can make some spooky shadows by the light of an autumn fire and roast up some marshmallows (or just the graham crackers for the under-two crowd.)
Moving the fun outdoors lets you still experience that exciting Halloween thrill without spreading germs all over the neighborhood through trick-or-treating. Plus, if it rains, snows, or that Halloween chill is just too chilly, bringing the party thing inside is just a few steps away. And I can just about guarantee that your older kids will never forget watching “Ernest Scared Stupid” outside in the dark. Bonus idea: string some twinkle lights for that extra Halloween magic.
Have a Halloween Night Photoshoot
For parents and children alike, Halloween comes down to two things: costumes and candy. So you can skip walking through a crowded parking lot full of decorated minivans this year—just dress up and take the pictures. Your kids still get to dress up as someone else for a day and you get photos for your scrapbook. Everybody wins! (And hey, if they still want to take candy from the trunk of a minivan, toss a bag of Ring Pops back there and call it a night.)
The best part of a photoshoot is that you can make it as elaborate as you want. Find props, create a backdrop, do silly group poses, or go with a family costume theme. For families with little ones this year, this is the perfect low-risk, low-key activity that still gets to celebrate the fun of the season. Bonus idea: if you have older children, let them take some of the pictures and see what crazy poses they think up.
You can definitely make taking your pictures into a fun-filled event. Or, feel free to just snap your shots and eat candy in costume. That’s the beauty of Halloween this year—it’s totally your choice.
Build a Haunted Garage or Hallway
If you’re a real Halloween nut, this one’s for you! Find a part of your house or apartment that you can keep your family out of for a day or two, and decorate it with hanging white sheets, smoke machines, and blue lights. Add any spooky fun elements you want (age-appropriate for your kiddos, of course) and you have yourself a haunted garage, hallway, or bedroom to send your children and partner through.
Plan a Halloween Pizza Party
Because when in doubt, pizza is always the right answer. Grab a few pre-made crusts, a couple of jars of pizza sauce (or if you’re extra like that, make your own sauce and curst), all the toppings, gather your little monsters around the kitchen table, and decorate your own pizzas. Award a prize for the scariest monster face or the spookiest jack o’ lantern. Again, keep it as low-key or as elaborate as you want it, but either way, it’s time spent together in a cozy kitchen on a dark autumn evening, and there’s no better Halloween memory than that. And, of course, don’t forget to play the Thriller and Monster Mash songs in the background so you’ll have yourself a dance party as well as a pizza party.
Plan a Not-so-Spooky Movie Night
Pick a festive fall movie (or whatever that means for your family), pop some popcorn and cozy up together. Sure, this is low-key, but it’s quality time spent together. Especially if you have a basket of Halloween treats to pass around. For young ones, this year is a great time to introduce a Halloween classic like Charlie Brown’s “The Great Pumpkin Patch” or browse some of the new not-scary fall flicks on Netflix.
Scoot Through a Spooky Scavenger Hunt
Depending on your kids’ ages, a spooky Halloween treasure hunt is a great way to turn getting Halloween candy into an event without the trick-or-treating. This works if your house is already decorated for Halloween, but even if it isn’t, leaving creepy clues under odd, unsettling objects around the house and that eventually lead your children to a cauldron full of candy is all it takes to give your kids a safe and spooky Halloween adventure. Even better if you have outdoor space and can turn it into a spooky nighttime affair (don’t forget the flashlights!).
Throw Your Family An Old-Fashioned Halloween “Party”
Have your kids bob for apples, dress your spouse up as fortune-teller, fill up a jar full of tootsie-rolls and give them to whoever guesses the correct amount, set up a slime table, serve a snack food dinner, and paint everyone’s faces—just like you remember from your childhood.
This idea is definitely for the crafty parents, but a global infernal pandemic shouldn’t stop you from making Halloween into a whole thing if you want it to be a whole thing! Just because there probably won’t be any Fall festivals this year doesn’t mean your kids should miss out on eating kettle corn as a full meal this autumn.
“Boo” the Neighbors
You’ll have to use your good judgment here, but providing everyone in your house is healthy and you practice good hand hygiene and stay-safe guidelines outlined by the CDC, you can put the “treat” back in trick-or-treat by “booing” your neighbors or loved ones. Bag up some Halloween goodies, decorate them with some free Pinterest printables, and “boo” them with the surprise.
Tell Ghost Stories Around the Fire
Build a bonfire or start one in your fireplace, pass around hot drinks, make S’mores, and take turns telling ghost stories. This is guaranteed to create a precious memory and maybe a new tradition. Your kids will love hearing your stories and they’ll love telling you their own even more. To help your kids take turns with the storytelling, have the storyteller wear a witch hat they pass on to the next person when their turn is over.
Bonus Idea: Tell your ghost story as a group by creating a chain. You start the story and right at the most suspenseful moment, you pass the hat and the story to the next person and they decide what happens next.
Take a Halloween Hike
If you are the outdoorsy type, take your family on a hike wearing your costumes. The weather in late October is usually perfect for long walks and this is a great way to feel like you really got to use your costumes. Not to mention, it gives you all the space you need for that photoshoot. This requires little work on your part but will still help your children feel like they were able to get out and do something to celebrate Halloween.
Bonus idea: take a few minutes before you go to print out an age-appropriate checklist of fall items to find—an orange leaf, a black cat, or maybe—was that a ghost?!