8 Ways to Save Halloween This Year (All Vetted By Actual Children)

Trick or treating + communal bowls of candy = Not this year, people. But let’s not throw in the towel on Halloween 2020 just yet. After all, according to one seven-year-old we talked to, “Halloween is a feeling—it’s fall and really pretty and I love the decorations. Even if we can’t go trick-or-treating, we still have that.” (We’re not crying, you’re crying.)

Like she said, Halloween isn’t cancelled. We just have to get more creative. Below, a list of spook-tacular, COVID-safe Halloween activities that will take you from meh to muahaha. Just be sure you check local and state guidelines before venturing out.

24 Halloween Costumes Everyone in the Family Can Get In On

1. Set Up a Candy Slide

Fishing around for your favorite type of treat is one of the best parts of Halloween. (“I avoid anything with coconut,” the aforementioned seven-year-old adds.) But this year, the most COVID-safe work-around might be this candy slide invented by the DIY experts behind The Wicked Makers. It works like this: You can use PVC piping as shown in the demo video above, but really any type of slide is fine as long as it’s six feet in length. Decorate your setup with Halloween props like spiderwebs or black paint to make it feel extra spooky. Then, one person stands at the top end of the slide and passes goodies down to trick or treaters who are waiting at the bottom end. Halloween genius, right? Plus, one tip from an eight-year-old: “Once you collect all your candy, wash your hands before you eat it”

2. ‘Ghost’ Your Friends by Leaving Sweets at Their Door

Instead of trick or treating, you “ghost” your friends by dropping off a Halloween-themed goody bag at their doorstep, then dashing off. You can of course include a note to explain who it’s from—no need to freak anyone out too much during COVID—but a simple message is all that’s required. (We’re partial to: “You’ve been ghosted. Happy COVID-Halloween! Love, Riley and Beckett”)

little girl zooming on halloween
Justin Paget/Getty Images

3. Do a Zoom Costume Party

Zoom fatigue, blah blah blah. As long as your video chat has a purpose—i.e. a virtual costume parade with all your closest friends—you can’t go wrong. Just assign someone to host/emcee so that you can shout-out every kid. Bonus points if you set up a playlist of spooky tunes for the kids to twirl and bop along to.

4. Turn Your House Into a Mini-Neighborhood

OK, this idea—from a nine- and seven-year-old brother/sister duo—blew our minds: “We’re going to decorate for Halloween anyway, so maybe this year we pretend that the house and the hallways inside are the streets and we can knock on the different doors (say, the bathroom or the bedroom) and have different family members be on the other side handing out candy. It’s silly, but still really fun!”

movie screening with kids halloween
Anchiy/Getty Images

5. Invite Friends for a Socially Distanced Outdoor Movie Screening

Why not turn your backyard into an outdoor movie theater (we love the Nebula Capsule projector from Anker) and invite a few of your kid’s closest pals—or the members of their pod—over to stream a Halloween movie while everyone is all dressed up? This is how an eleven-year-old and nine-year-old we chatted with plan to celebrate the big day. Their movie rec: “Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest is my top pick right now,” the eleven-year-old said. (To keep things COVID-safe, package up individual bags of popcorn or pre-sealed candy, then space seating options six feet apart.)

6. Choose a Costume That’s Mask-Friendly

“Making your mask part of your costume is so easy,” said one eight-year-old. “Plus, then you can still go out trick or treating with your friends as long as you are staying six feet apart.” And according to a recent interview with Julie Roehm, the chief marketing and experience officer at Party City on NPR, she’s seeing increased demand for nurses, doctors and firefighters—all mask-friendly costume options. “With costumes, we usually get to lean on blockbuster films, but since we didn’t really have any this year, I think people are turning to the people who helped during the pandemic every day,” she said.

mom and son with masks trick or treating
Juan Monino/Getty Images

7. Set Up a Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt

Remember the rainbows? You posted one in your window as a beacon of hope in early spring and an impromptu scavenger hunt for kids was born—not to mention, an excuse to get the whole stir-crazy fam outside. Instead of rainbows, have your kids illustrate a pumpkin picture or two, then post them in your window so they’re visible to anyone passing by on the street. Come Halloween, set a goal with your kids: “We’re going to dress up in our costumes then go out and about to scout 10 pumpkins.” The reward? A bag of candy when they get home.

8. Go Park-er-treating

If you’re worried about congestion and close contact in your neighborhood, move the operation to a big outdoor space (say, a school field or a park). Invite a handful of trusted families—all masked, of course—and have each grownup set up in a socially distanced fashion with a different type of individually wrapped candy. The kids can then walk around and trick-or-treat until their buckets are full. After all, as one five-year-old we know put it, “All I really care about is getting a lot of candy.”

Rachel Bowie Headshot

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...