There’s a new spooky character this Halloween that we’re all trying to avoid – COVID-19. The CDC and AAP aren’t recommending traditional trick-or-treating, and some communities may even discourage it, so it’s time to get a little creative.
Your family doesn’t need to trick-or-treat to celebrate Halloween! There are plenty of ways to get into the spooky spirit without going door-to-door. All these activities can be done with members of your own household. If you’re going to include neighbors or friends, stay outside, keep a safe distance, and limit it to only a couple of neighbors or friends.
Virtual Halloween costume contest with friends and family to show off those costumes. This is a great opportunity to celebrate Halloween with non-local friends and family! Create age-appropriate themes and award prizes to the winners. There are plenty of free video-chat options available.
Halloween movie night with themed snacks and movie-related costumes.
Decorate pumpkins with paint, markers, and stickers. Display your decorated pumpkins outside or in the window. If carving pumpkins, children can draw on the pumpkin and adults should do the cutting.
If trick-or-treating is allowed and you’re interested in participating, here are some steps you can take to make the night safer for everyone.
For children and families going into the neighborhood:
Masks for everyone. Make sure everyone in the group wears a mask – children older than two and adults alike. Costume masks are not a safe substitute for COVID masks. If you are handing out treats at your house, you also need to wear a mask.
Make them shine. Put reflective tape on your child’s costume so other trick-or-treaters and, importantly, cars, can see them. While you’re at it, make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping.
Small groups. Restrict groups to just family or only a couple of friends and limit the number of houses you visit.
Watch for cars. Remember to watch carefully for cars. Halloween is one of the biggest nights for pedestrian injuries in the US.
For parents and families handing out treats at home:
Stay outside: Hand out treats outside. Spread them out on a table at the end of the driveway or edge of a yard so kids only touch what they will take. Consider handing out individually wrapped treat bags.
X marks the spot. Mark Xs on the ground with sidewalk chalk or tape to keep groups six feet apart from each other.
Germ control. Make sure you are wearing a mask. Have a bottle of hand sanitizer available for trick-or-treaters to use.
Laura Dattner is a research writer in the Center for Injury Research and Policy. With both a health communications and public health background, she works to translate pediatric injury research into meaningful, accurate messages which motivate the public to make positive behavior changes.
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