This post includes affiliate links or sponsored content. Read our full Disclosure here.
The internet is abuzz with how to keep kids safe while celebrating Halloween. Across the country recommendations are being issued at the state and local levels – please follow all the local guidelines for your area. Parents everywhere want to know is trick-or-treating canceled? We don’t always agree with the recommendations for our area, but it is not worth our energy getting upset about things we cannot control. We have opted instead to focus on how we can keep the spirit of Halloween alive for our family.
We are taking advantage of these pandemic times to model flexibility and resilience to our girls. Everyone faces challenges, disappointment and frustrations, but it’s how we respond those times that make us who we are. We have opted for the honest (albeit age appropriate), but upbeat approach to sharing information.
Halloween in our family is enchanting, imaginary, creepy and of course very sweet! We love concocting costumes for the whole family, decorating our house inside & out, attending local fall festivals & events and trick or treating with friends. Unfortunately many of these traditions are either altered or canceled this year, but we have found some creative solutions we are excited to share with you.
The CDC has advised families to avoid traditional trick-or-treating this year, considering it a high risk activity. When we told our girls trick-or-treating had been canceled locally we began brainstorming other ways we could celebrate. One of our girls really enjoys being able to share candy with friends and family so we have come up with some creative tricks to play on loved ones with an added treat.
Boo bats were inspired by a bat craft we did years ago. We folded the ends of a toilet paper tube that we filled with candy and painted black. The black paper wings and cute faces are what make them recognizable as bats. We load the bats in our water balloon launcher and launch them into flight towards a friend’s door. When the bat hits the door our friends come to answer it and find candy filled bats.
If you don’t have a balloon launcher or want to boo someone who lives in apartment building, the ding dong ditch is another great way to spread some trick-and-treat fun. We also made some old school lollipop ghosts, reminiscent of my elementary school days, by tying a tissue around a small lollipop. The ghosts are great for hanging on door knobs, door knockers and tree branches.
We love that we can visit friends for a little Halloween fun and maintain social distancing. Not everyone is assuming the same level of risk these days, so in an attempt to respect what friends are comfortable with we have pre-approved our boo attacks. While we would prefer more of the element of surprise, we don’t want to show up with candy if the parents are not comfortable with their kids eating it.
There is no getting around the fact that kids love to trick or treat for the candy. But, as our daughter pointed out, when you buy your own candy you can choose only the ones you like. We took an afternoon to pick out our very favorite candies online and at local stores.
Stocked with our favorite candies, we ordered some glow in the dark stickers from Amazon. The kids had a lot of fun putting stickers on the candy that we scattered in a field at dusk. We had a pre-Halloween candy hunt with some friends and it was a big hit. We are planing to hide more glow in the dark candy in our yard on Halloween.
For younger kids, you can do it in a dark room or basement during the day. Skip the glow in the dark stickers and have a daytime hunt. Easter eggs make it easier to hide treats if you aren’t buying prepackaged minis. This year it will be even easier to manage any dietary restrictions.
If you are looking for some yummy organic candy, check out YumEarth on Amazon. They even have organic candy corn without high fructose corn syrup, artificial dyes, soy, fish/shellfish, dairy, gluten or peanuts or tree nuts. We also love the chocolate treats from UnReal including peanut butter cups and coconut bars. We also always get some of our favorite candies from Lovely including juicy chews.
decorate your house
Decorating for Halloween is always a very exciting day for our family. As the kids are getting older, they are moving away from the cute decorations to the creepy ones. Every year we pick out a few new decorations and usually end up making some.
This year we are excited about some new outdoor decals our friend at Gussied Ups sent us. These waterproof decals go on the sidewalk and are a great way to play Halloween hopscotch or set social distancing guidelines. We have enjoyed hopping up and down the walk and making up games. The decals are reusable and waterproof so you can enjoy them all month long.
pumpkin carving & decorating contests
Participating in pumpkin carving or decorating contests are a great way for families to get creative. You can join or create contactless pumpkin contests for your friends, family or neighborhood. For kids who are missing all the costume events this year, dressing up your pumpkins is a great substitute.
We are excited to be participating in a pumpkin decorating contest fundraiser with a local dentist. My kids have been brainstorming how to best turn a pumpkin into an endangered species.
stay out after dark
Part of the appeal of trick-or-treating is wandering the neighborhood after dark with friends. I remember how thrilling it felt to be up so late, seeing our neighborhood in a different way. One of the first questions we got about Halloween was could they still stay up late to which we said of course!
We stayed up past dark to play a new game that is perfect for Halloween. Our friends at Starlux games sent us copy of Wizards and Werewolves, an epic game that pits two mythical forces against each other in an exciting backyard battle of speed, skill and wits. When you play as a Wizard you’re searching for glowing magic crystals. Or bare your teeth as a Werewolves and hunt down the Wizards.
A large field or yard is a great place for this game. We had fun playing with some friends after dark. The glowing magic crystals were easy to see in the dark and the glowing and flashing wrist bands made it easy to see each other. Starting at dusk helps everyone get the hang of the game before it gets too dark. There are 3 variations, but we had some younger kids playing so we stuck with ‘One Crystal Saves Them All’.
You can also teach your kids other games like flashlight tag or ghost in the graveyard. For activities with less contact, check out the stars & planets on a clear night, make a bonfire or have an outdoor movie night.
visit a local farm or fall festival
We have been so impressed by all the local business in the greater DC area. So many of our favorite farms and hosts of fall festivals have adapted to the new Covid guidelines offering outdoor socially distant fall adventures. Many places are requiring timed entry, social distancing and mask wearing. They are limiting activities to reduce crowds and contact as well as offering sanitizing stations.
This is also a great time to show your support to your local farms. Many of these farms made planting choices either before or during the beginning of the pandemic. If you have some time on a weekday, farms are a great place for kids to learn about where our food comes from, observe living things and be outside.
Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without a little fright. We were happy to hear that haunted forests were categorized as moderate risk by the CDC and one of our local haunted forests was opening following the Covid guidelines this year. Another way to get haunted is to find out more about the spooky local history. Many museums and historical sites offer spooky tours this time of year.
If you prefer to get haunted at home, creating your own haunted house is a great family project. My girls are currently in the design phase of turning our basement into a haunted house. The haunts can be age appropriate and you’ll make some amazing memories.
Start a new tradition
This is the perfect time to start new family traditions. A great place to start is asking your kids what they think would be a fun way to celebrate Halloween this year. If you are met with blank stares try suggesting watching scary movies, having a costume dance party, trying a new Halloween recipe, telling ghost stories or singing Halloween karaoke. This is also a great time to expand on any family or cultural traditions you may have.
Often times the modern Halloween celebration overshadows some of our older family traditions. We are taking advantage of more family time to celebrate and educate our girls more on these traditions. Our family celebrates Dia de los Muertos in remembrance of our loved ones who have passed on and this year we are spending more time preparing our loved ones favorite foods and making new decorations for our ofrenda. We also celebrate Samhain, the ancient Irish harvest festival, and this year we are preparing a harvest feast, telling traditional tales and making a bonfire.