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13 Socially-Distanced Halloween Activities

Words by Jill Morgenstern

With the impact of COVID-19 on children still relatively unknown, parents have mixed feelings about whether Halloween traditions should change for this year. Angie Wierzbiki, mother of two young children, says, “I think I would be OK trick-or-treating in our neighborhood but not attending one of the numerous community Halloween events.”

Rachael Hutchinson is another mother who will let her children trick-or-treat. “Since they’ll be wearing masks like everyone is supposed to, I don’t see the issue.” 

Other parents are switching up their plans altogether. “I just don’t see how anything is going to be the same this year, so instead of staying home and being disappointed, we booked a little getaway for the weekend,” says Megan Wildgoose of her family’s plans. 

No matter your plans for the big night, here are some great ways to celebrate Halloween safely: 

  1. Host a Virtual Costume Contest
    Even if Halloween parties and events are off the table, kids will still want to share their costumes. Get together using FaceTime, Zoom, or other video calling methods. Why not have a prize for scariest, funniest, or most original? 
  2. Face Painting 
    Kids love to paint their own faces. Buy a set of face paints, set the kids in front of a mirror, and let their artistic talents shine!
  3. Movie Night
    Younger children might love It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, or Hotel Transylvania. Older kids might want something scarier! Whether you host a virtual watch party with friends or cozy up together as a family, a spooky movie will put you in the Halloween mood.
  4. Hold an Outdoor Pumpkin Carving Party
    Gather up the safety knives and patterns and head outdoors (6 feet apart, of course) to carve pumpkins together! Cleanup is a breeze when pumpkins are carved outside. Younger children could paint their pumpkins instead. 
  5. Make Caramel Apples or Halloween-Themed Treats
    If your cooking skills are limited, there are kits available at many grocery stores around Halloween to help you make traditional caramel apples. A graveyard “dirt cake” made from Oreos is a lot of fun and can be embellished with Nabisco Nutter Butter cookies for ghosts and Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies for gravestones. Or use a doughnut hole, a Life Saver gummy candy, and a chocolate chip to make edible eyeballs.
  6. Have a Virtual Halloween Party
    Just because you won’t be inviting the entire neighborhood inside your home doesn’t mean you can’t gather online to show each other your costumes and eat treats together! If you gather on apps such as House party, you can even include virtual games.
  7. Tell Ghost Stories or Read Scary Library Books
    Family members can take turns telling scary stories. Alternately, check out some Halloween-themed books from the library like The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams. Older kids might enjoy starting the Bunnicula chapter book series by James Howe or the My Undead Life series by Emma T. Graves.
  8. Play “And Then the Boiler Burst”
    In this spooky game, players take turns telling a spooky story, either making it up or using a familiar story. A close-by object serves as “base.” At the spookiest part of the story, the storyteller shouts out, “And then the boiler burst!” The first player tagged before reaching base tells the next story.
  9. Make a Socially Distanced Haunted House
    Setting up pretend spider webs, skeletons, and even old dolls and fake blood can make your front yard into a haunted house for neighbors or friends to enjoy one at a time.
  10. Bob for Apples
    You can use a wading pool, large bucket or tub filled with apples, and a bandana to cover the eyes for this healthy and fun family activity.
  11. Play with Slime
    Make your own or buy some. Add plastic spiders for a creepy effect!
  12. Hand Out Candy from Afar
    This is the perfect year to sit outside in a lawn chair with candy on a table and let kids take their own.
  13. Candy Scavenger Hunt
    Hide candy around the yard or house and create a map or list of clues to lead the little ones to the loot.
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