With Halloween just around the corner, many families and children are unsure of how to enjoy the spooky season while we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Especially now that health officials have recommended against trick-or-treating in Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York Region. Halloween isn’t cancelled but like everything else in 2020, it will look a little different. With some added safety measures, a little creativity and a lot of positivity, we can still honour our Halloween traditions, have fun and stay safe.
Outside of the four COVID-19 hot spots, trick-or-treating outdoors is considered a low-risk activity as long as health guidelines are followed. Just prepare your kids for the possibility that recommendations may change as we get closer to the big night. If you feel comfortable taking your ghosts and goblins out for candy this year, here are some tips to protect your family and community:
- Stay close to home—To prevent unnecessary exposure, just go to homes in your area or touch base with neighbours in advance to find out which ones are comfortable having visitors. Consider mapping out your route ahead of time with your kids to make it feel like an adventure.
- Keep your space—Stay distant from others, avoid crowds, don’t linger, stick to quiet streets and only go out with members of your household.
- Wear a mask—While being outside limits your risk, grown-ups and children should wear a properly fitted face covering for added protection. Remember that costume masks aren’t designed to stop the spread of germs and cannot replace a cloth or surgical mask.
- Respect your neighbours—Remind your trick-or-treaters to avoid homes with the lights off as some households may not feel comfortable participating in festivities this year.
- Keep up hand-hygiene—Have your kids use hand sanitizer throughout the night, after touching shared surfaces and before eating any treats and regularly remind them not to touch their face. Individually wrapped candy keeps the chance of spreading the coronavirus very low, but as an extra precaution you can let their stash sit out for 24 hours and have some other candy on hand for your kids to enjoy.
- Follow regular Halloween safety—With all the COVID-19 precautions in place, don’t forget about the safety tips that are always important for trick-or-treaters. Wear light colours or add reflective tape and glowsticks, stay on sidewalks whenever possible, watch for costumes that are tripping hazards, avoid masks that can impair vision and leave sharp costume accessories at home.
If you’re staying in to hand out candy, wear a face covering, regularly sanitize and only offer pre-packaged treats. You should avoid having a communal bowl that everyone sticks their hands in, so people are coming up with lots of creative ways to limit contact. Some ideas include handing out candy using tongs or hockey sticks, creating a candy slide or keeping things simple by spacing out individually wrapped candies or grab-and-go goody bags on an outside table.
Find Your Festive
If you live in a high risk area, don’t feel safe hitting the streets or have a child with an underlying health condition and trick-or-treating isn’t an option for you this year, there are many other ways to celebrate. While haunted houses and indoor parties are definite no-go’s, here are some other ideas to mark the occasion:
- Host a virtual party—Video chat with friends and family to show off your costumes, carve pumpkins, play games or do a Halloween craft together. Another safe option is an outdoor costume parade, if everyone wears a face covering and stays at least six feet apart.
- Organize a scavenger hunt—Do a Halloween revamp of the Easter egg hunt and hide candy in your backyard or around the house for your kids to find. This will get them moving and is a chance to wear their costumes and collect treats. You can also give your kids a list of Halloween-themed things to find around the neighbourhood so they can enjoy the decorations without going door-to-door.
- Plan a Halloween movie night—Put on your costumes, whip up a few treats and watch a spooky movie together. Or setup an outdoor screen to project a Halloween classic in the backyard for a few socially distanced families.
- Plan a little extra— Without trick-or-treating as the highlight, this is a good year to go big with Halloween-themed activities. Put out all the decorations inside and out, make the Halloween snack board of your dreams and visit the pumpkin patch for a perfect carving pumpkin.
Kids have missed out on a lot during the pandemic and it’s important to acknowledge that not being able to trick-or-treat at all—or with lots of regulations in place—is really disappointing for many. While this year has felt a bit like a horror movie (and it’s hard to not be discouraged), this is an opportunity to model flexibility, positivity and resilience for our children. If you have fun this Halloween, your kids will too!