Jill Morgenstern, contributing writer

WITH THE IMPACT COVID-19 has on children still relatively unknown, parents have mixed feelings about whether or not Halloween traditions should change for this year. Angie Wierzbiki, mother to 5- and 6-year-old girls 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 still see it as risky or want to do their part in social distancing efforts. “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,” said another mother, Megan Wildgoose, of her family’s plans.

Whether or not you choose to let your children trick-or-treat, here are some great ways to celebrate Halloween this year while maintaining social distance:

1. Host a virtual costume contest. Just because trick-or-treating may be off the table, doesn’t mean kids don’t 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. You could also consider an outdoor movie night where friends could social distance appropriately.

4. Hold an outdoor pumpkin carving party. Gather up the safety knives and patterns and head outdoors (six feet apart, of course) to carve pumpkins with friends! Cleanup is a breeze when pumpkins are carved outside, and younger children could paint theirs instead of carving.

5. Make caramel apples or Halloween-themed treats. If your cooking skill levels are low, 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 donut 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 Houseparty, 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 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 scary story, either making it up or using a familiar story. A closeby 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 can transform your front yard into a haunted house for neighbors or friends to enjoy one at a time.

10. Play with slime. Make your own or buy some. Add plastic spiders and color it green for a creepy effect!

11. 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.

12. Have a candy scavenger hunt. Hide candy around the yard or house for little ones to find.