Our monthly blog is on occasion about our National Health Observances, with the additional bonus this year (eek!) of having to weave COVID-19 into the monthly narrative. As we continue to live the misfortune of 2020 with COVID-19 dampening a lot of our usual fun, it only seemed appropriate to start the fall season with something upbeat. Halloween 2020 will be here soon and now is the time to start preparing. Yes, we can look for creative ways to enjoy Halloween with our families during a pandemic.
The State of Michigan has released COVID-19 recommendations for a safe celebration:
The CDC has also released Halloween guidelines:
Traditional trick-or-treating is considered a high-risk activity by the CDC. Some communities may discourage or cancel it this year. There are safety tips if families choose to trick-or-treat and alternate activities that can be thought about, too. The CDC link above also categories low, moderate and high-risk activities for the season.
For trick-or-treaters and parents:
- Share with your children that this year may be different than last year but let them know some the of the new ways you plan to celebrate and still have a lot of fun
- Talk with your children about safety and social distancing guidelines. Keep a six-foot distance from others not in your group. Discuss it with them before you go out and make sure they are following the guidelines throughout the night.
- Sanitize your hands frequently while out treat-or-treating, especially before eating or after coughing and sneezing
- Make sure children are sanitizing their hands frequently throughout the night and after they are finished trick-or-treating
- Inspect your children’s candy for anything out of the ordinary before they eat it. You may want to wipe the candy down or let it sit a few days before giving it to your child.
- Participate in one-way trick-or-treating on the street and guide children to stay to the right to ensure social distancing
- Trick or treat with people you live with
- Avoid congregating in groups around houses
- Wear a face mask covering both mouth and nose
- A costume mask (such as a Halloween mask) is not a substitute for a cloth mask
- Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask if wearing both causes difficulty breathing. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
- Only go to houses with safety measures in place
- If anyone is feeling ill, stay home
- Check out https://www.halloween2020.org/ presented by Harvard Global Health Institute to find activities and ways to celebrate Halloween this year based on levels of COVID-19 risks in your area
Tips for homeowners:
- Wear a mask
- Use duct tape to mark six-foot lines in front of your home and leading to your driveway and front door
- Position a distribution table between yourself and trick-or-treaters to make sure they stay 6 feet away
- Distribute candy on a disinfected table or use some other method to eliminate direct contact. Perhaps have pre-packaged treat bags
- Consider handing out candy in an open space where distancing is possible, rather than from the front door
- Do not hand out candy if you feel ill
The Michigan.gov guidance also urges us to consider hosting virtual parties instead of in-person Halloween parties. If a gathering is hosted, it should be limited to 10 people or less per Executive Order 2020-176, social distancing should be maintained, cloth masks should be worn, and food and party favors should be set out individually to prevent cross contamination.
There are also some other fun and creative ways to celebrate:
- Reverse trick-or-treating. Have kids dress up in their costumes and set up shop in the front yard or porch. Organize neighbors to drive or walk around and hand out candy.
- Drive-up trick-or-treating. Instead of walking house to house, pick a few homes of close friends or relatives and drive there. Call or text to let them know you have arrived, go up to the front door, and back again to the car.
- Halloween Zoom party. If you can handle another Zoom meeting in your life, invite family and friends to a Halloween-themed zoom party with costumes being required.
- Go trick-or-treating in your own house. It may not sound exciting to you, but younger children may enjoy it. Instead of going door to door, just set up candy or treat stations throughout your house, put on Halloween music and lighting, and go trick-or-treating
- Have a driveway or garage candy giveaway. Driveways are usually wider than sidewalks so there is more of a chance for social distancing.
- Car parade. Organize a neighborhood trick-or-treating car parade with cars covered in Halloween decorations. Drive up and down your block and throw candy to each driveway. It keeps everyone at a safe distance.
- Make a spooky room. Make a spooky room or area in your house. Put up lights and cobwebs and use boxes that they have decorated. Laugh a lot to show them this is fun and not scary. Perhaps make a tunnel for the entry to the room that they must crawl through or a maze on the inside. Go to the dollar store for decorations, but do not wait too long. With the way things are going this year, all the decorations will be gone.
- Decorate your yard this year. Use your imagination with making ghosts and goblins at home or using lights and other things you purchase at the store. Let the kids help when they can, even if it is just putting tape on something.
- Go to the cider mill. There are plenty of safe ways to do it. Who doesn’t love donuts and cider and walking around to see the displays? You might want to rethink the hayride this year. Do not go at crowded times is my mantra and keep your distance from others. Make sure to bring your hand sanitizer.
- Pumpkin decorating. Let the little kids pick out their own pumpkin. There are plenty of small ones out there and it gives them a chance to express themselves. To make it easy for you and them, look for ways to only decorate the outside of the pumpkin. Items such as mix and match face stickers, strings, cloth, glitter glue, markers, and acrylic paint are all different ways that the little ones can individualize their pumpkin as they see fit. They will be proud at what they have accomplished.
- Movie night. Make it spooky and dress up. Do it as a family or let them watch with their friends while video chatting with everyone starting the movie at the same time. Make sure the movie is appropriate for their age group.
Yes, this year is different, and trick-or-treating may not feel right for everyone. People have health concerns and going door-to-door can be out of our comfort zone. This is also a chance to get creative and, perhaps, start some new Halloween traditions in the family. Kids seem have a magical way of having fun no matter what the situation. As adults, let’s aim for that, too.