Top 5 Tips for Safe Halloween Improvisations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

. October 16, 2020.
Neighbors seem to be going all-out this year with Halloween outdoor home decor, to the delight of those who stroll by. Image courtesy of Donna Iadipaolo.

Don’t let COVID stop all the fun of the season. Just take smart precautions and also think creatively.

This Halloween, having fun definitely requires some thinking outside of the haunted box. Outdoor activities are best, wearing COVID cloth masks, and keeping a social distance are all key when dealing with the zombies in your household. We talked to parents and kids in the Ann Arbor area and came up with the top five tips to still have a spooky and festive time this year.

1.) Carve a pumpkin. After you’ve selected your perfect pumpkin from your favorite local pumpkin patch, you and your ghoulish family can still carve a pumpkin outdoors and display it proudly for Halloween night with a candle inside. If a small group of neighborhood kids or friends get together, they can carve their own separate pumpkins outdoors, with masks on, and 6 feet apart. Please note, it is best to carve a pumpkin less than or equal to three days before Halloween so it stays firm and fresh for the holiday. Getting the timing right on your masterpiece is important to have the optimum enjoyment of your orange squash art and for others to be entertained as well.

2.) Distribute Halloween candy bags from afar. Trick or treating can be done without going door-to-door. Some parents and neighbors report they are creating little trick-or-treat bags with pieces of candy and goodies enclosed to place on a table at the end of the driveway or on their porch for kids to pick up by themselves instead of being personally handed at their door. This has also been termed “one-way” trick-or-treating because there is no relay. The CDC has explicitly stated that kids should not go door-to-door nor accept candy that is handed to them in the traditional manner by an adult placing it in their treat bag. 

3.) Mask it up! Halloween is traditionally about all kinds of pre-made plastic or paper masks of devils, mummies, and favorite superheroes. But kids should also have their COVID masks on when walking on the crowded sidewalks. The COVID mask should be worn underneath the regular Halloween mask. However, if this is uncomfortable or makes breathing difficult, there are a multitude of proper COVID cloth masks available with Halloween designs on them, such as a scary cat, a favorite superhero, or a crimson devil. It is important to be aware that traditional paper and/or plastic Halloween masks do not substitute for proper COVID masks. Friends can even have a virtual mask contest through a Zoom session, displaying each other’s costumes via the Internet with one another. 

4.) Bob for Apples. With one’s own family, feel free to set up a huge tub of water and bob for apples. Just fill the tub with water and place in the water enough apples to cover the surface. A socially distanced form of the game is to hang apples on a clothesline, each with their own string attached to the clothesline (6 feet apart), and then have people try and bite into an apple with their teeth. With this second method, people can also enjoy the outdoors and don’t get wet either!

5.) Halloween Scavenger Hunt. During the day, have kids dress up in their favorite costume and search for various decorations that have been creatively displayed around the neighborhood. A list of Halloween icons can be prepared ahead of time that kids can try to find and then have them checked off their list. This might include, but is not limited to: bats hung from trees, skeletons, sheeted ghosts, and black cats. This means neighbors can go the extra mile in decorating their houses, apartments, or living spaces. This year, people generally seem to be going more all out with decorations so neighbors can enjoy their Halloween displays when out for walks or running and enjoying the autumn leaves.