Affordable and Socially Distant Ways to Celebrate Halloween

Christina Cay, a mother of two, is planning for Halloween to look quite different this year.

For one thing, the popular, historic-home-lined trick-or-treating street near where she lives in Charleston, South Carolina, is staying dark this season. Halloween parties are canceled, and her children, ages 6 and 3, have been social distancing, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

So Cay, who runs the motherhood blog C’mon Mama, is planning an affordable, atypical Halloween. The most expensive purchase this year: the Halloween costumes.

Her children will dress up as Captain America and Captain Marvel and head out for trick-or-treating in their neighborhood, but they will evaluate the safety of each stop on a case-by-case basis. Cay is also setting up a candy treasure hunt throughout her home to keep her children entertained. Will they miss the usual Halloween festivities? Hopefully not, she says. “The simple things are so fun for them.”

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For many families, the usual Halloween parties, trick-or-treat outings and costume contests are canceled, due to the novel coronavirus.

But the good news is that celebrating Halloween is doable, even at a safe distance. “Relatively, Halloween is one of those holidays where there’s less exposure if you’re careful,” says Dr. Mollie Grow, pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She notes that it’s important to avoid situations where you’re touching objects others have touched, getting in close contact with people outside your household or eating in close proximity with your mask off.

Instead, creative parents can plan scavenger hunts, socially distant Halloween parades and spooky photo shoots. Here are some ideas for a socially distant, affordable Halloween this year.

— Organize a Halloween movie night.

— Plan a candy hunt.

— Schedule a spooky photo shoot.

— Put on a Halloween parade.

— Cook fall recipes together.

— “Trick” the neighbors.

Read on for more tips on how to plan each Halloween event.

Organize a Halloween Movie Night

Marisa Donnelly, who calls herself the “bonus Mom” of her boyfriend’s 11-year-old son, is planning a socially distant, outdoor movie night for her son and his friends.

The San Diego-based mom has made backyard games, organized Halloween-themed activities and will order pizza. The projector she’ll use was a gift, and she’s using a white sheet as an affordable screen. “I wanted to be purposeful, like, let’s have some fun and make it something we can look forward to,” says Donnelly, a writer, editor, teacher and founder of Miss Donnelly’s Daily Apple, a home school program.

If you have the space, consider copying Donnelly’s idea. Cozy up with some blankets and treats, with separate households spread 6 feet apart, and watch an outdoor movie. If you’re sticking with immediate family, picking a Halloween movie and cuddling up inside for a scary movie night is a classic way to enjoy the holiday.

[Read: How to Build a Fire Pit in Your Backyard: a Step-by-Step Guide]

Plan a Candy Hunt

For a candy-themed treasure hunt, hide candy around the house or in your yard. Give the kids some hints about where to start looking, then set them free to search. “It’s the hybrid of the Easter egg hunt and Halloween candy,” Grow says.

Consider hiding treats in repurposed orange, yellow and purple plastic Easter egg shells. Or, if you’re handing out bigger prizes, hide miniature pumpkins, which can be redeemed at the end of the hunt, Cay says.

Schedule a Spooky Photo Shoot

One of the best parts of Halloween is sharing your spooky costumes, so go ahead and share them virtually with friends and family members.

Get yourself and your children suited up and organize a photo shoot in a variety of poses and locations. If your older kids are somewhat tech-savvy, a spooky video montage or music video is another option.

Share the results with friends and family via social media or private email.

[Read: How to Save Money for Your Kids.]

Put on a Halloween Parade

Collaborate with your neighbors to schedule a Halloween parade during which the local kids walk down the street and show off their costumes. “Let them get a costume and let them wear it in front of people, even if they parade at a distance,” Cay says.

Cook Fall Recipes Together

Work on decorating Halloween-themed cookies, baking a pie or making another fall recipe with your children. If grandparents are missing out on the Halloween festivities, patch them in via a videoconferencing program, so they can participate in the cooking activity.

Cooking isn’t just a bonding activity. It’s a great way to teach skills, such as measuring and following instructions, Grow says. Kids may add complexity by following recipes in a new language, such as Spanish, or learning a traditional family recipe. “There are so many wins about it,” she says.

“Trick” the Neighbors

Keep the “trick” in trick-or-treat by dropping off a small Halloween-themed gift at friends’ and neighbors’ homes, with or without a note, and running away. This good-natured prank will surprise your friends, give your kids something to plan for and allow for social distancing.

If sharing food seems risky, Grow suggests dropping off a little gift or spooky Halloween figurine.

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