This Halloween, the coronavirus is a very real boogeyman, lurking behind every mask. Traditional trick-or-treating is being discouraged by health officials. Haunted houses are closed or limiting their numbers. Parties are considered a no-go.
Canceling Halloween might seem particularly harsh, considering all the challenges and disappointments kids have faced this year, but some experts fear that we could see a resurgence in the pandemic this fall.
“Viruses don’t take holidays,” said Anne Rimoin, professor of epidemiology at UCLA’s School of Public Health. “The way a virus transmits doesn’t change because we’re in holiday mode. In fact, it often makes us less cautious because our guard is down. We have to accept the fact that the virus is dictating the precautions we have to take.”
Lest you’ve forgotten those precautions, that means 6 feet of social distancing (i.e., no kids crowding around a candy bowl at your front door), wearing masks (not cute Halloween masks, but protective masks that cover your mouth and nose), avoiding crowded, confined spaces and practicing good hygiene (absolutely no bobbing for apples).
But really, this is Halloween we’re talking about, near the top of every child’s can’t-wait list. The National Confectioners Association’s Halloween Central website, alwaysatreat.com, includes the statistic that 74% of millennial moms and young parents say Halloween is more important than ever this year.
So, can we really just lock our doors, turn off the lights and say, “Better luck next year?” No, darn it, this is America, land of the free and home of “There’s got to be a way.”
Here are some tips for how we can celebrate Halloween this year without infecting our kids or ourselves:
Go big on decorating
This might be the year to pull out the stops decorating in and outside your home. String some lights. Invest in a fog machine. Stuff some old clothes to make a headless scarecrow ... or invest in something more elaborate like an inflatable. Decorate or carve pumpkins; have a family contest and ask neighbors to vote on their favorites.
No grab bowls
We need to rethink the way we pass out candy, Rimoin said. Kids crowding around the door is a no-no, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find other ways to dole out sweets. Rimoin recommends individually bagging treats and leaving them on a table on your driveway for children to take as they walk by. You can wave from the porch, replenish between visits and keep an eye on little ghouls who want to take more than their share.
You can combine decorating with treat allocation. For instance, if you have a fence, hang candy from it for kids to grab as they pass. Or hang the candy from a tree so children can pick their own treats as if they were picking apples. (Keep the treats on low-hanging branches to prevent the youngsters from climbing the trees and risking falling.)
Keep it indoors
Do a mashup of Halloween and Easter. Fill a Halloween bag with candy, hide it in the house so the kids can search for it. Variations on that theme could include a scavenger hunt in the house or yard, or a set of clues for older children to decipher.
Eerie, glowing ... eggs
Break out those plastic eggs you use to hide candy at Easter and decorate them with scary faces or decals, an idea we found at indywithkids.com. Fill the eggs with candy and hide them outside or around the house. If you stuff them with glow sticks, you can even turn out the lights or search the yard at night for eerie, glowing eggs.
The nice thing about home-based scary movies is you can adjust the scare-o-meter to fit your family’s tastes (and terror tolerances).
Boo someone, sweetly
Think of “booing” someone as a kind of random act of kindness for Halloween. Wrap up a (nice) Halloween treat, drop it at a neighbor or friend’s door, ring the bell and run like crazy. The idea is to spread some holiday cheer. There’s even a website with poems and posters you can print out, at beenbooed.com.