8 Spooky Ideas for a Pandemic-Friendly Halloween Celebration

happy playful halloween family with jack-o-lanterns

Halloween 2020, like so many things this year, will be a little different from normal. However, living in a virtual, socially-distanced world doesn’t mean that this can’t be a perfectly spooktacular holiday.

A report from the National Retail Federation found that only 58% of adults expect to celebrate Halloween this year, down from 68% in 2019. But if you have kids at home--or if you’re a Halloween die-hard--you know that throwing in the towel isn’t an option.

Fortunately, parents across the country are getting creative and finding ways to make this Halloween special. Take a look at the safety tips and celebration ideas below, and make a pandemic-friendly holiday plan. You may even end up creating a fun new family tradition!

Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips

little girl dressed up as witch trick-or-treating with mask

Many towns aren’t hosting trick-or-treating this year, but many more still are. Viruses can live on surfaces for multiple hours to several days, which makes community-collected candy an exposure risk. If you’re headed out this Halloween, make sure you’re taking the steps to stay safe.

For trick-or-treaters:

  • Wear a mask and gloves, and consider costumes with the mask built-in
  • Stick to your household
  • Wash hands immediately after coming home
  • Put collected candy in quarantine for a few days. To make this easier for the kids, have a new bag of candy or a fun dessert ready when you get home
  • Candy hauls are likely to be lighter this year, so have treats ready at home in case the kids are disappointed

For treat givers:

  • Don’t open the sealed bag of candy until you’re ready to hand it out
  • Put on a mask and wash hands before handling candy
  • Avoid communal candy bowls and hand-to-hand candy transfer
  • Consider installing a candy-delivery chute to pass out candy from a distance
  • Consider setting up a treat table with individually portioned candy cups

Halloween Fun at Home

happy excited kids carving pumpkins together for halloween 2020

Carve your pumpkins, but don’t stop there--if you’re staying in this Halloween, there are lots of options to make the night special.

(Our) Haunted House

With the high volume of screaming people that go through haunted houses, they’re not a great option right now. However, you can still create a scary experience by setting up your own house or yard as a haunted house. 

It could also be fun to give the kids a few strobe lights and cobwebs and have them set up a haunted house for you! (It’s especially fun for them if you’re prone to jump-scares.) My kids and their cousins set one up last Christmas (wrong holiday, I know) and it was a hoot.

Backyard Halloween scavenger hunt cute little witch looking in pumpkin

Candy Hunt

Why not borrow a few ideas from other holidays? Break out the Easter eggs and orchestrate a spooky Halloween candy hunt. You could also combine the candy hunt with a haunted house idea or plan a scavenger hunt.

Halloween Movie Night

Round up the whole family and enjoy a Halloween movie together. Hocus Pocus or Hubie Halloween are both fun family-friendly options, but a bit of horror could be your flavor too. This is a great activity to close out any night of fun Halloween festivities!

at-home halloween dance party

Just-Us Halloween Party

What’s a Halloween without the Monster Mash? If you have neighbors or cousins in your bubble, now is the time to invite them over. If it’s just your household, that can be super fun too. Everyone dresses up, drinks spooky punch, and dances the night away to Halloween favorites.

Spooky Snack Decorating

Whether you’re making caramel apples, decorating sugar cookies, or creating a special spooky snack, Halloween foods are a sure way to feel connected to the holiday. These ghostly cupcakes are just one of many treat ideas that creative kids will love.

Fun with Friends

outdoor halloween costume parade in a park

The best part of Halloween is showing off your costume, but who can your little ones brag to while staying safe? Luckily, there are a few ways to get the word out.

Distanced Costume Parade

Organize a costume parade with your neighborhood or extended family. Block off a section of street or park and let the kids strut their Halloween stuff in front of their adoring fans.

Virtual Costume Contest

Many organizations that typically host costume contests are still doing so with a new, virtual format. Look for contests going on in your community, or organize your own.


I hope you are able to keep the Halloween spirit alive and strong this year! The key is to make a plan, get creative, and try not to compare to previous years. This is a whole new celebration and a great opportunity to make unique memories!

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