If there’s one thing for certain about this Halloween, it’s that it’s going to be a strange one. Sure, some families are proceeding as usual. “Traditional trick-or-treating here!” HuffPost Parents reader Amanda said in a recent Facebook post that asked families to share their plans.
But for many families, in many communities, things are going to be... different. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as other groups, have put out pretty detailed guidance on trick-or-treating during the pandemic, urging families to take into account factors like what kinds of preventive measures people will take and what the current level of transmission is in your community. Even if you live in an area with a relatively low case count, this is not your typical Halloween.
With that in mind, HuffPost Parents asked our community members how they’re planning to celebrate the holiday. Here are some of their great ideas.
1. The Halloween Scavenger Hunt
Several HuffPost Parents readers said they’re going the scavenger hunt route to offer their kids a bit of spooky, festive fun. (And a lot of candy.)
“I got glow-in-the-dark stickers I’m going to put on a variety of candy and put in my backyard,” said reader Kristie. Angela said she planned to set up a “haunted trail” in the woods behind her home. “There will be decorations and Halloween candy hidden Easter egg style,” she said.
HuffPost Parents reader Kelly said she’s keeping the hunt in her house, but not scrimping on the magic. “My son has been really into Harry Potter lately so we will dress up as the characters and I got him a light-up wand,” she said. “I will hide the candy around our house and he will search for it by wand light!”
Then there are the readers who said their towns were working together. “Our neighborhood is doing a drive-through scavenger hunt,” said Megan. “The clues are based on the outdoor decorations and each participating house is putting out goody bags for zero-contact treats.”
2. The Contactless Candy Exchange
There are a few reasons the CDC considers traditional trick-or-treating to be a “higher risk” Halloween activity: the touching-candy-someone-else-bought-and-put-out factor (though surfaces aren’t the primary way COVID-19 spreads). Then there is the difficulty of maintaining distance when going door to door. Some families are doing some pretty creative DIY planning around contactless candy delivery, like the viral “candy chute” that’s getting a lot of traction. Or the Texas dad who created a “candy cannon.”
But it can be pretty low-tech, too. HuffPost Parents reader Sara said her daughter, who has aged out of trick-or-treating, will be handing out candy with tongs (while wearing her mask).
“We’ll be wearing our costumes, hanging out on the front porch,” echoed reader Jools. “We will have a table (by our driveway) set up with individually packed goodie bags for kids who will be trick-or-treating.” One note here: The CDC considers goodie bags to be a “moderate risk” activity and recommends washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after prepping them.
Several HuffPost Parents readers said they were going the trunk-or-treat route ― while being really careful to maintain social distance.
“Our street is doing a trunk-or-treat for the kids,” said reader Michelle. “We are setting up tables in front of the trunks with individually packaged candy laid out so no one is grabbing out of a big bowl and can stay socially distanced.”
The CDC puts “trunk-or-treat” in its “higher risk” activity category, though that’s when you’re talking about groups of cars lined up in parking lots where it might be really difficult to maintain any meaningful physical distance. The group is pretty clear on what will help keep kids and families safe: distance, masks, hand-washing — the usual!
4. A ‘Pod’ Party
Several HuffPost Parents readers said they are opting for more intimate gatherings. “Our pod is doing a Halloween party at my house!” said DeAnna. The idea is that the kids will only be spending time with friends they’re exposed to regularly anyway.
Others are keeping it even smaller, going with a family movie night.
“We’re not trick-or-treating and my kids were totally OK with it!” said reader Brenda. “We will have a living room picnic, order pizza, watch Halloween movies, and eat candy!”
5. The Zoom Route
Sure, your kiddos might be kind of over Zoom, Google Classroom, FaceTime or whatever they use for school. But they’ll happily get on board for some holiday celebrating.
HuffPost reader Brianne, whose daughter happens to also have a birthday around the same time, is putting together “a Zoom costume show-off session hosted by a professional Cinderella,” she said, describing her virtual birthday party and Halloween bash. “We hope it gives her classmates a fun thing to do in their costumes.”
“We may have a dance party with the cousins on FaceTime or Zoom,” echoed reader Drea (who is also planning on a scavenger hunt, putting glow sticks in bags with a few pieces of candy and scattering them around the house). Then there’s reader Caitlin, who is doing a similar combination of scavenger hunt and virtual hangout.
“We are going to have small bowls of candy and video chats with different family members set up behind each door in our house,” she said. “That way the kids still get the trick-or-treat experience without leaving the house. Plus, family gets to enjoy with them!”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.