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How to Safely Celebrate Halloween in 2020

By Joyce Venezia Suss

Halloween in 2020 is likely to be more of a trick than a treat because of the pandemic, and the scariest part will be the fear of catching COVID-19. But no one wants to deprive children (and adults!) of the fun, especially in a year where fun socializing has been limited.

Every community may have different rules about going house to house for treats, and many neighbors (especially the elderly) may turn off their porch and house lights this year. Large parties are banned in New Jersey, but families can plan alternate holiday activities.

Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, so kids of all ages can wear costumes all day from breakfast until bed! Decorate the house, and keep the memories by sharing photos with friends and family via email, social media and/or postal mail.

It’s also the perfect year to wear a themed costume that includes a mask. Select a mask that protects the eyes and fits over a medical mask, for the ultimate protection. Alternately, search online for “Halloween medical mask” to see an array of clever spooky themes.

Here are a variety of ways to celebrate a safe and fun Halloween with social distancing:

At Home

  • Plan a themed Halloween Day at home for your family. This also works well If you have a home-schooling “pandemic pod” of local children, especially if each family hosts a portion of the fun.
  • Create a haunted house using sheets, flashlights, and party store props like skeletons, zombies and more.
  • Hang a Halloween piñata in your backyard – crammed with lots of candy!
  • Hide a bunch of mini pumpkins in and around the house, have kids gather them up, and then decorate them with washable paint and fun craft supplies like googly eyes, feathers, etc.
  • Bobbing for apples is definitely not safe, so “bob for doughnuts” attached to twine or yarn, spaced apart on a clothesline or a tree with low branches.
  • Set up other Halloween crafts – check Pinterest for lots of ideas.
  • Hide candy around your house (in or out, or both) for a sweet scavenger hunt. If older children end up with most of the loot, have them divide it equally with younger siblings.
  • End the holiday with a movie night featuring scary classics or fun films appropriate for young children. Serve lots of popcorn and Halloween candy!


Outside the Home

  • If your community will allow door-to-door trick or treating and you want to participate, here are some safe options.
  • Leave individually wrapped treat bags on a table on your porch or driveway, not a bowl full of candy that many hands would touch. Add tape lines to socially distance trick or treaters.
  • Purchase a long-handled “grabber” to take or give candy from a safe distance, or a long tube to slide candy down into children’s bags.
  • Chaperoning adults should carry hand sanitizer, wipes and extra masks, and guide children away from other groups.
  • Consider costumes with built-in social distancing. Some trending costumes are “Plague Doctor” and hazmat suits for all ages – even inflatable costumes for guaranteed space. Also popular this year are treat bags attached to a plastic hand at the end of a stick, so candy can be dropped into the bag from a safe distance.
  • Pumpkin picking and fall festivals are largely outdoor events, and they may be safe if you follow social distancing. Before you venture out, contact the farm or event venue to learn their safety rules. Some might be canceling their events this year, and others may require reservations to control the number of visitors. Be prepared for temperature checks upon arrival. Be careful about anything touched by multiple hands – including pumpkins.


Online Halloween
This year, a major candy company is offering virtual treat or treating. Mars Wrigley has created an online app called Treat Town. People create a virtual avatar, decorate a virtual door, and knock on friends and family members’ virtual decorated doors, even if they live far away. People can purchase credits to give their trick or treaters, redeemable for real candy like Snickers and M&Ms.

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