All Hallow’s Eve is meant to be a night of fun and fright, but 2020 has brought on fears of its own. The impact of the current pandemic has changed the way we live our day to day lives on a massive scale and holidays are no exception. As we try to move on and adapt to new safety guidelines we are faced with many challenges. Trick-or-treating might look a little different this year but we’re here to tell you ways you can still enjoy the festivities while staying safe.
New Safety Rules for Halloween
New guidelines have been published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on safety during the fall holidays. These new rules outline suggestions on conforming to social distance orders so everyone can remain safe and help reduce the spread of Coronavirus.
Enclosed spaces such as apartment buildings should be avoided when it comes to trick-or-treating. The CDC is also discouraging Halloween attractions that are enclosed or typically draw in large crowds due to the higher-level of exposure. Keep the festivities outdoors for a lower-risk activity and avoid the crowds. Wear a proper face covering over the nose and mouth to prevent the transmission of pathogens. Costume masks should not be worn in place of a face covering because they do not offer the same protection.
Further guidelines and recommendations have been released by each state that are in accordance with CDC guidelines. Some communities are opting out of trick-or-treating for added safety measures, especially areas where the spread of COVID19 is not well-controlled. Each state also has set guidelines in place on capacity limits for scheduled events. If you live in an area that is heavily impacted by Coronavirus it’s best to skip trick-or-treating this year. Be sure to check out haunted houses you’re planning on visiting beforehand to find out if they are taking proper measures and following safety guidelines to ensure your health. Here are some ideas on what you can do instead!
Halloween Themed Scavenger Hunts
Host a scavenger hunt in your backyard for the kiddos to find Halloween treats in place of going trick-or-treating. You can add obstacles, themed games, or spooky riddles for creativity and start a whole new tradition the kids will love. If you decide to invite friends over, experts advise to limit the number of children to no more than 10 considering the size of your yard. Remember to practice social distance and wear face coverings.
A Drive-By Halloween
Driving around the neighborhood to see the lights and decorations of front yards is a common tradition families enjoy as it gets closer to Christmas. Why not make it the new tradition for Halloween this year? Ask neighbors or even collaborate with city officials to go all out with decorations for drivers to ride around and enjoy. You may even be able to find a drive-thru event near your area with a little bit of searching. In some areas local zoos are hosting drive-thru adventures that are animal-themed for families to enjoy from the safety of their vehicle.
Virtual Pumpkin Contest
You may have had to skip the pumpkin patch this year but you can still enjoy the fun celebrating with this seasonal gourd. Have a virtual pumpkin decorating contest with your family asking friends to be the judge. Pick up a pumpkin for each member of the family to carve or decorate. Younger children may need help with carving so choose carving tools that are safe to use. You can get really creative by allowing additional props and accessories for decorating. Post pictures or make a video of the finished pumpkins asking friends and family to vote on their favorite. You may even want to invite them to participate by decorating or carving their own pumpkins for your family to judge. It can be a fun activity for the family to enjoy while safely engaging with family and friends on the festivities.
Hosting An Outdoor Halloween Party
If Halloween parties are a tradition for your family and friends it may still be possible with careful considerations. Host the party outdoors and keep the guest list to a minimum with careful consideration on who you invite. For the safety of your family and others stick to inviting guests you know are following safety protocols. Ask invited guests to stay home if they have been exposed to the virus within 14 days prior to the party. You will also need to check with local guidelines on the number of people that are allowed for events, even if it is a private one. Law enforcement do have authority to shut down events if not in compliance with the safety guidelines currently enforced by local government officials.
When planning the party ensure that you can safely accommodate guests to remain 6-feet apart. Arrange the tables and chairs to be spaced out. Ask in advance that guests wear protective masks when inviting them to your party. Remember to verbally greet guests and encourage practicing safe distancing. Make arrangements for bathroom access to limit the number of people in those spaces. Provide antibacterial soap and disposable paper towels instead of sharing the same hand towel. Have hand sanitizer available as well to promote good hand hygiene.
If you are providing food and drinks, limit one or two people to serve and handle food ensuring they follow health and safety protocols. Another option to consider is providing single-serving options that minimize contact over a communal serving table. Opt for individually wrapped food items such as a variety of snack size-bags of chips. You could even make your own single-servings by pre-filling halloween-themed cups with little treats. Provide individual bottles or cans of beverages over a punch bowl. Have drinks and individual food servings arranged where party goers can easily grab with minimal contact.
Keep the party duration on the short-side and include an end-time on invitations. The longer individuals are in contact with others, there is a greater chance of virus shedding. This occurs when a virus replicates inside a host and gets released. To reduce the risk of virus transmission, it’s probably best for everyone to return home before the stroke of midnight. Perhaps add a polite yet firm statement to go with the theme of the party such as ‘dooming one’s fate to be cursed if they overstay their welcome’ to get the point across.
2020 Trick-or-Treating Tips / Covid19
If you are participating in taking your family trick-or-treating take precautions to keep you and your little ghouls and goblins safe. Be sure to talk about the importance of following safety rules. On top of the additional precautions it’s still vital to follow the same safety rules you would every Halloween:
- An adult chaperone should accompany children to ensure safety protocols are followed, even with older children.
- Wear clothing that is easily visible or glow sticks to be easily seen by drivers.
- Be sure your child can see and breathe well through their costume. It is not recommended to wear costume masks over face coverings as it can make it even harder to breathe.
- Refrain from trick-or-treating in large groups and keep a safe distance from others while walking out in public.
- Discourage children from eating candy while trick-or-treating. Wait until you are home when they can wash their hands thoroughly and go through candy first to check for any that are unwrapped or have been opened. Wipe down candy wrappers with sanitizing wipes or set it aside for at least 24 hours to allow germs and possible pathogens to die before letting kids open them.
Find Halloween-themed cloth masks your trick-or-treaters will enjoy wearing. A plain mask can even be customized with little touches like vampire fangs or a witch’s nose with warts. You can get creative with endless ideas to incorporate a protective mask to go with their costume.
While traditional door-to-door trick or treating is discouraged, it hasn’t stopped some communities from partaking in the tradition of giving out goodies. Several families have come up with their own creative ideas to dish out holiday treats in an unconventional yet safe approach. One family out of York County crafted a candy catapult for a fun candy-throwing feat. Another idea we’ve seen go viral on social media is a chute-system where a homeowner pieced together a candy chute to slide down treats to trick-or-treaters from their porch. We’ve even seen a clever mechanical pulley-system one man engineered to deliver a basket of treats to trick-or-treaters from his porch.
There is still time to get creative and craft a fun idea with items you may already have around your home to ensure a safe Halloween for all. If you are preparing bags of treats for trick-or-treaters take necessary steps to ensure proper hand hygiene and safety protocols are being followed. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 2 minutes before preparing the bags. Place the bags on a table or tray where they can easily be picked up individually to minimize contact. You could also use a long grabber to hand out treats without contact.
Non-Candy Treats to Give Out on Halloween
We know this is the season that’s all about candy, but opting for alternatives is a much healthier and safer approach for children and parents. It’s also much easier to accommodate for children who have food-specific allergies that may limit what they can actually have. Peanuts, for instance, is a potentially life-threatening allergy many kids suffer from. It also happens to be pretty common in Halloween-themed candy from peanut butter cups to candy bars just to name a few. Here are a few ideas to substitute the sweets with treats that are sure to please.
Halloween Themed Stationary
You can find cute holiday-themed accessories such as pencils, stickers, and stencils at many retailers. Creepy syringe-style ink pens and cooky spider erasers add a nice touch to writing notes. You could even add in a small drawing pad. Most trick-or-treaters who come to your door are going to be school-aged providing a great candy-alternative they can use at home or at school.
Festive Toys and Games
Party chain retailers will often carry novelty toys and little games that can be purchased in bulk for parties and themed events. Without a doubt there are many themed toys that kids will equally enjoy over candy. If you find these low in stock this close to Halloween you might even consider making your own. Print out or craft your own tic-tac-toe cards with cardstock paper to hand out with themed pencils. Dollar store chains will often have a variety of small kid-friendly items on the clearance shelves you can find for literal pennies if you’re a thrifty shopper.
These are a lot of fun for any occasion and a night-themed holiday goes perfectly with glowing accessories you can wear. Hand out glow-sticks on Halloween and they’ll enjoy them far longer than a piece of candy would last for.
COVID19’s Effect on Holidays
Due to the status of the current pandemic and social distancing many of the time-honored traditions we love have been put off this year. Large Halloween parties are banned in many communities due to the current status of the pandemic along with cancellations of other popular October events.
Many companies have suffered a great hit from the pandemic as well due to quarantines and a drop in sales. Those that thrive on Holidays for their peak sales have had to adjust their marketing and even product selections. Many candy manufacturers, for instance, have opted in branding fewer Halloween-themed packaging and extending the season to push sales beyond trick-or-treating.
Popular holiday chains such as Spirit Halloween have also had to make accommodations to make their profits. More retailers are offering curbside pickup to meet their state regulations for in-store capacity of shoppers with hopes to boost or maintain sales.
How Much Longer Will the Pandemic Last?
Everyone is more than ready for the pandemic of 2020 to come to an end, but will it be over by 2021? According to researchers at the CDC, an end to the pandemic won’t be met until over 60% -70% of the population reach immunity to the virus. This could take predictably up to 2 years to achieve. The protocols in place to help ‘flatten the curve’ by reducing exposure will have a great impact based on how the general public follows them. With companies researching and working hard to develop a safe and effective vaccine this may offer a positive outlook.
There are currently over 100 vaccines in the process of development for fighting Coronavirus; however, there are only 8 to 10 vaccine options that might prove an effective resolution at this time. This comes from a publication by the Microsoft co-founder billionaire Bill Gates, stating that it could take as little as 9 months to establish. Could we see a possible vaccine ready before next Halloween? Only time will tell.
What does this mean for the upcoming holidays??? Well, for the remainder of 2020 we can expect current regulations to remain in place. This will have a significant impact on how consumer’s traditionally celebrate holidays. With quarantines putting restrictions on travel and social distance protocols this means putting those favorite holiday destinations on hold.
Another impact Coronavirus will have with the upcoming holidays is shopping and spending habits altogether. The pandemic has brought on a great deal of uncertainty among consumers and employees alike. For many families the financial hardships have left many unemployed and unable to make payments on their bills. Retailers are anticipating lower-than-average demand on goods and products and are likely going to have less inventory in response.
How to Cope through the Holidays During a Pandemic
We are currently living in a time of globalized anxiety with mental health issues skyrocketing as we all wrestle with the long-term repercussions of this pandemic. The holidays are taxing during the best of times. How will you cope in 2020? Do you have a plan for Thanksgiving? Now more than ever we need to plan ahead to ensure the safety of our family.
We know the holidays are a time we all come together with family and close friends but COVID19 has made that a real challenge. Despite the frustrations and many emotions brought on by this pandemic, it’s imperative to remember why we must follow the protocols. We want to have more holidays with the ones we love. The best way to ensure their health and safety is through social distancing, limiting contact and exposure around others, proper hygiene and personal protection. While the holidays may be spent a little differently this year, there are still ways to enjoy the season with those dear to us.
If you are having family come over to visit keep these safety protocols in mind. For family gatherings, minimize the number of family members you have over. Consider who you are inviting as well bearing in mind those who are at the highest risk. Senior citizens and people with compromised immune systems are the most vulnerable to the coronavirus. For family members and close friends that live far away consider hosting family dinner virtually or over zoom. Many health experts are discouraging people from traveling to help minimize the spread. In some states traveling has been banned from visitors of areas with higher rates of COVID19 outbreaks.
Focus on activities and things you can do amid the pandemic to embrace the holiday season this year. Even though we may not be able to physically be with those we wish there are many ways we can still spend the holidays together. We have great tools and resources with smart devices and social media that allow us to still be able to communicate and interact with others. In light of the restrictions and limits in place, many have been inspired to put their creativity at work with inventive ways to adapt. Time-honored traditions like carving pumpkins or decorating gingerbread houses can still be enjoyed. Maybe even new traditions will become more popular in the holidays to come!