How to celebrate Halloween during COVID-19

By Carly Brake, Canadian Red Cross Digital Volunteer

In many ways, parenthood is a continuous lesson in flexibility and adapting to changes. In addition to adapting to how COVID-19 has impacted back to school routine for everyone again this year, this maman is getting ready to pivot on what it means for certain activities that are coming up.
Photo of pumpkin
Fall is a glorious season. So much beauty in the bright explosion of colours. So much fullness and bounty as we prepare to snuggle down for the cold and dark of winter. It’s the season for harvests. It is also the season for Halloween.

Now, Halloween was always fun enough for me, but I really grew to love it with our son where we get to enjoy it together. The last few years, we have done family costumes with themes like The Paperbag Princess, Star Wars, and last year, Cars 3.

Although we won’t know for sure until we get to the day, the pandemic will probably impact what Halloween will look like again this year, particularly trick or treating. How can we still enjoy a day that we know our son will be looking forward to while ensuring safety for us and others? For us, we’re going to take advantage of the fact that this year it is falling on a Sunday. Instead of it being a rushed after-work affair, we’re looking to make it more of a small celebration.

Now at age 5, we’ll keep it more upbeat and spooky light vs excessively scary (because no parent or caregiver wants to deal with nightmares), but any family can up the fun in Halloween without trick or treating. In addition to the traditional pumpkin carving, there are a lot of ways you can celebrate:
  • Up your decorating inside or outside! You can opt to buy materials in store or through curbside pickup, or use materials on hand like construction paper pumpkPhoto of halloween themed foodins and sidewalk chalk.  
  • Food is a great way to have Halloween fun! Everything from decorating pumpkin spice flavoured cookies; banana ghosts; hot dog mummies; and the classic candy apples.
  • Music can really help to set the tone. Closer to the day, radio and streaming services will have offerings.
  • Our public libraries have loads of books and most offer curbside pick up these days. Check out books on everything from crafting ideas and cute story books; to the origin of Halloween with Samhain; and the Day of the Dead.
  • Movies and shows are of course a very easy way to take in some extra Halloween spirit. There’s truly something for everyone! It is however a good idea for parents and caregivers to do some reconnaissance before taking in a family screening (and Common Sense Media can help you with that). Don’t have a streaming service? Youtube has some titles including Mickey Mouse - The Haunted House or the Skeleton Dance. Plus your public library has DVDs to borrow. Some even have their own streaming service you can use for free!
  • Do you have a child who needs an activity? Turn your house or a room into a candy hunt! You can even decorate with some cobwebs, put on some spooky music and turn off the lights. Your kid gets to trick or treat hunt with a flashlight at home.Photo of carved pumpkins
  • If the weather is nice, make a yard web outside complete with fake spiders. Kids (and parents) have to negotiate getting to across without getting caught (touching the web).
  • Halloween-style sensory bins can be really fun and use just about anything you want. You can have kids digging through dried beans for plastic spiders. Or turn up the gross factor and make it into a spooky  medical lab complete with peeled grapes for eyeballs; gooey spaghetti for intestines; steamed cauliflower for brains: and peeled tomato for a heart. Don’t forget to blindfold them! And what kid doesn’t love slime?
  • Finally, for those creative types, what’s Halloween without ghost stories? You can find some online or compilations at the local library. Better yet, have a competition in your house for who can tell the best ghost story. Break out the flashlights and tell the stories in the dark with eerie music playing in the background.
So much has changed with the pandemic and we know things are not over yet. It has been hard this last year to say no to our son so often to keep him and others safe. However, my hope is with a bit of creativity and an open mind, we can still enjoy ourselves even if the holiday looks different.
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