The Ultimate At-Home Halloween Guide

With the impact of COVID-19 on Halloween still up in the air, parents are already busy planning what-if scenarios in case trick-or-treating is canceled. Here are some great ways to celebrate while maintaining social distance.

Hold an Outdoor Pumpkin Carving Party.

Gather up the safety knives and patterns and head outdoors (six feet apart, of course) to carve pumpkins together. Cleanup is a breeze when pumpkins are carved outside. Younger children could paint theirs instead.

Have a Virtual Halloween Party.

Just because you won’t be inviting the entire neighborhood inside your home doesn’t mean you can’t gather online to show each other your costumes and eat treats together. If you gather on apps such as Houseparty, you can even include virtual games. Host a costume contest while you’re at it with prizes for scariest, funniest or most original.

Tell Ghost Stories or Read Scary Books.

Family members can take turns telling scary stories. Alternately, check out some Halloween-themed books from the library like The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams. Older kids might enjoy starting the Bunnicula chapter book series by James Howe or the My Undead Life series by Emma T. Graves.

Make a Socially Distanced “Haunted House.”

Setting up pretend spider webs, skeletons and even old dolls and fake blood can make your front yard into a haunted house for neighbors or friends to enjoy one at a time. Put a treat bowl at the end.

Host a Virtual Costume Contest.

Just because trick or treating may be off the table, doesn’t mean kids don’t want to share their costumes. Get together using FaceTime, Zoom, or other video calling methods. Why not have a prize for scariest, funniest or most original?

Make Caramel Apples or Halloween Themed Treats.

If your cooking skill levels are low, there are kits available at many grocery stores around Halloween to help you make traditional caramel apples. A graveyard “dirt cake” made from Oreos is a lot of fun and can be embellished with Nabisco Nutter Butter cookies for ghosts and Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies for gravestones. Or use a donut hole, a Life Saver gummy candy and a chocolate chip to make edible eyeballs.

Play “And Then the Boiler Burst.”

In this spooky game, players take turns telling a scary story, either making it up or using a familiar story. A close by object serves as “base.” At the spookiest part of the story, the storyteller shouts out, “And then the boiler burst!” The first player tagged before reaching base tells the next story.

Try Face Painting. 

Kids love to paint their own faces. Buy a set of face paints, set the kids in front of a mirror, and let their artistic talents shine!

Have a Movie Night.

Younger children might love It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown or Hotel Transylvania. Older kids might want something scarier! Whether you host a virtual watch party with friends or cozy up together as a family, a spooky movie will put you in the Halloween mood.

Bob for Apples.

You can use a wading pool, large bucket or tub filled with apples and a bandana to cover the eyes for this healthy and fun family activity.

Play With Slime.

Make your own slime or buy some. Add plastic spiders for a creepy effect!

Hand Out Candy From Afar.

This is the perfect year to sit outside in a lawn chair with candy on a table and let kids take their own.

Host a Candy Scavenger Hunt.

Hide candy around the yard or house for little ones to find.


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This article also appeared in Chicago Parent’s fall 2020 magazine

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