We’re more than halfway through October, and if you are a parent, nanny, or anyone else who spends a significant amount of time caring for children, you may be feeling conflicted about how to celebrate Halloween this year. Let’s face it: holidays in the time of COVID are challenging any way you spin them, but Halloween, a holiday dedicated to going outside and making contact with many people you may not typically make contact with is especially tricky while observing stay-at-home orders and social distancing. 

It doesn’t have to be a wash, though! With some patience and preparation, Halloween can still be a blast, even without trick-or-treating or pumpkin patches. 

Get creative with costumes! What a better opportunity than during a pandemic to put some big energy into a craft project? Skip the store-bought costumes this year and let your child’s imagination soar with craft materials and objects found around home. For easier cleanup glitter glue, glitter crayons, and confetti are great alternatives to craft glitter!

Consider a socially-distanced neighborhood costume parade! Do you live in a close-knit neighborhood, or do you want an opportunity to have some fun with the neighbors? Collaborate with your block or complex (through phone, text, email, or social media of course!) to choose a time of the evening when everyone who wants to participate comes outside in their costumes to wave to each other. Bring music, and you can even have a dance party! Want to keep it down? Consider encouraging everyone to wear headphones and play their own favorite tunes to dance to and have a neighborhood silent disco!

Have a Halloween treasure hunt! Treasure hunts don’t just have to be for Easter eggs! For younger and older kids, simply hide pumpkins, candy or homemade treats, stickers, toys, or any other Halloween-themed item you can come up with around the house or the yard and let your kids find them. For older kids, you could even consider setting them up with a series of clues (pictures, riddles, etc.) that lead them to a prize at the end.

Be a Giving Ghost! Work with your children to set up small goodie bags for the neighborhood, and make some super secret contactless deliveries to friends’ and neighbors’ porches. Better yet, let the kids dress up so they can get the full door-to-door experience without ever increasing their COVID risk!

Don’t forget the ambiance! Decorate (or let the kids decorate!) and get your Halloween playlist ready. Spooky tunes, glowing lights, and a construction paper pumpkin or two are more than enough to really set the tone for the evening.

And finally: don’t want to skip the trick-or-treating? Do it at home! Kids are going to remember the overall experience, not whether they actually went door-to-door, so keep it safe and simple. Do you have multiple vehicles at home or have a friend, family member, or childcare provider with a vehicle and some extra time on their hands? Set up a mini driveway trunk-or-treat. Many nannies and family assistants will be happy to participate with the proper resources available to them!

Do you have alternative, COVID-conscious Halloween plans this year? Share your ideas in the comments!