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How to Celebrate Halloween During COVID-19 Pandemic: Do It Safely

7 tips for a safe, fun and spooktacular Halloween

Little girl dressed for Halloween wearing  a mask to protect against COVID-19.

7 tips for a safe, fun and spooktacular Halloween

Halloween will look different this year and you can blame it on COVID-19. The scary virus has made some traditional Halloween activities less safe to do this year due to the risk involved. You and your children can still enjoy the holiday. Just do it safely.

There are many alternative Halloween activities to choose from to bring on the fun Oct. 31. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a list of safe Halloween activities.

Plan ahead and check what health officials in your area are recommending to keep things safe this Halloween and help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

In San Diego County, officials are discouraging any close-contact Halloween activities where social distancing would be difficult to maintain. This includes:

  • No door-to-door trick or treating
  • No trunk-or-treating, where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
  • No leaving bowls of candy for children to grab


Practice safety by avoiding crowds.

“Unfortunately, there have been increases in COVID-19 cases following holidays,” says Ghazala Sharieff, MD, chief medical officer, clinical excellence and experience at Scripps Health. “However you celebrate Halloween this year, please keep safety top of mind.”

“Follow COVID-19 health and safety precautions – practice good hand hygiene, physically distance and wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose. And stay home if you feel ill,” Dr. Sharieff says.

Seven tips to safely celebrate Halloween

Yes, it’s not going to be a traditional Halloween. But you can create new traditions. Instead of going house to house, for example, you can hold a Halloween scavenger hunt trick-or-treat search at your house. Candy-makers also have figured out a way for children to trick or treat online.

Check out these ideas for a safe and fun Halloween!

1.   Virtual costume parties

Host a virtual Halloween costume contest on Zoom and invite family and friends. Create a playlist of spooky songs and turn it into a dance party. Show off your costumes and award prizes for the scariest or most original.

If you’re looking for costume ideas, Google keeps track of the 500 most-searched Halloween costumes across the nation, including by location.

In San Diego, “zombie” is the top-searched costume idea, according to Google’s annual Frightgeist study. Nationwide, the top-searched costumes are for witches, dinosaurs and comic book movie character Harley Quinn. Top trending costumes include “Cobra Kai,” “The Space cowgirl,” “The Mandalorian,” “Sanderson sisters” and “Inflatable shark.”

2. Spooky movies

Celebrate with a Halloween movie night. Do this as a family at home or consider letting your child watch with their friends while video chatting.

If you’re looking for age-appropriate titles, check out Rotten Tomatoes’ 36 Essential Kids Halloween Movies. You’ll find something for everyone, from It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and Coco, to Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands.

3. Virtual trick or treating

While door-to-door trick or treating is being discouraged this year, candy makers have found a safe way for children to continue this Halloween tradition online.

Mars Wrigley — the world’s largest candy maker — has created Treat Town, a virtual option for children to trick or treat. You earn credits toward real candy, which can be redeemed online or at participating stores.

4. Homemade Halloween recipes

If you decide to skip packaged Halloween candy, consider making Halloween-themed treats at home. Look for recipes online for “Jack-o-Lantern hummus,” “cheesy monsters” and “candy corn cupsicles (made with Greek yogurt).” Make caramel apples from scratch, but watch those portions.

5. One-way trick or treating

Participate in one-way trick-or-treating, where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go from a safe distance. Place them near the end of your driveway or at the edge of your yard.

If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.

6. Outdoor Halloween activities

Avoid indoor events, such as haunted houses. Look for outdoor events that focus on safety and fun. San Diego offers many options, including contact-less pumpkin patches and drive-thru haunted trails.

If you’re going to be out, make sure everyone is wearing protective masks and following social distancing guidelines. Bring hand sanitizer in case you are unable to wash your hands with soap and water.

7.   Pumpkin carving at home

Pumpkin carving is a safe option, but be careful and avoid injuries. Let your children draw a face with markers and the adults to do the cutting. Have fun by putting a battery-operated light inside. Roast the seeds from the pumpkin for a healthy snack.

A teaching moment

Trying to explain some of these changes to your children may seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Look at it as a chance to teach your children about infectious diseases and the importance of protecting themselves and others.