2020 could be summed up in three words:
What. The. Heck?
A global pandemic, statewide shutdowns, facemasks, hybrid schools, drive-by birthday parties….the list of things we never anticipated is long. My head has been a pandemic-laden brain-soup of uncertainty since March. And now it’s September and another holiday looms large on the horizon and department store shelves: Halloween. But what will Halloween be like in 2020? No one knows for sure yet, but by now we know it’s very possible that trick or treating will be canceled in various cities and states. Even if your area gives trick or treaters the green light many of us will be hesitant to participate. Face masks under costume masks? Sanitizing hands between houses? DO WE QUARANTINE CANDY FROM STRANGERS? I’m dizzy just thinking about all the necessary protocols. Despite all the uncertainty, there is one thing I know: Halloween is NOT canceled. Costumes are not canceled. And candy is DEFINITELY NOT canceled. (We need candy more now than ever.) So, if trick or treating isn’t on your Halloween table this year get on your thinking PJs and come up with some alternative ways to fill your kids with sugar and have some spooky fun. All of the ideas on this list can be done either at home with just your own family or a small ‘pod’ of people you trust.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Halloween Movie Marathon: Let everyone pick a movie from our list of Not-too-scary movies, fire up the air-popper, and break out that good candy you usually hand out to trick or treaters. Costumes optional but strongly encouraged. Put out a Halloween themed snack board to make it feel extra special.
Chili Night: This is our family’s pre-COVID tradition. We put on our costumes and head to the grandparent’s house where Nana whips up a huge pot of Halloween chili with all the fixings. (Don’t forget the Fritos!) There is something about this that just feels so festive. You could cut slices of cheese into pumpkins and bats with cookie cutters for a little spooky flair, or add some lazy Halloween snacks for the kids.
Halloween Pizza Party: Give each family member their own pizza crust and let everyone load up on their favorite toppings. See who can make the best Halloween inspired pizza with mozzarella cheese, black olives, pepperoni, green and orange bell peppers, and whatever else you like.
Halloween fashion show: Take turns showing off your costumes on the runway…in your living room! You can even try on all those old costumes and see if they still fit. Make it a virtual fashion show if you want so friends can join in on the fun!
At-Home Haunted House: Turn part of the house into a haunted house. Use spooky sound effects and props and take turns walking through and trying to scare each other. A basement would be particularly good for this.
Halloween Egg Hunt: Use glow in the dark or pumpkin-shaped ‘eggs’ for a non-Easter egg hunt. You can even buy them pre-filled.
Have a spooky dinner: Stuffed orange peppers cut like jack-o-lanterns, baked potatoes shaped like shrunken heads, ‘witches fingers‘ with ‘blood sauce’ (ketchup)….the internet is a wealth of knowledge. What better way to use it than to make grotesque delicacies to delight the little ghouls and goblins in your life?
Ghostly Piñata: If you have enough kids a piñata seems like a clear winner in lieu of trick-or-treating. You could either buy a Halloween shaped piñata or, if you’re the crafty type, spend the days before making one with the kids with balloons and paper mache.
Historical Halloween: Spend the night learning about the origins of Halloween and similar celebrations around the world. Watching The Halloween Tree is a great place to start if you have younger kids. You could even try your hand at making some traditional crafts or recipes. (Raddish lanterns anyone?) Older kids may enjoy watching documentaries or dramatizations of historically spooky events like the Salem Witch Trials or learning about Rhode Island’s own real-life vampire Mercy Brown.
Decorate Halloween Cookies: Bake some Halloween shaped sugar cookies the day before. (Or even further in advance and freeze them.) Let the kids go to town decorating with frosting (black, white, orange, and green), candy corn, black and red licorice (spider webs and blood), candy eyeballs, sprinkles, and whatever other creepy-crawlies you like.
Trick or Treat (at home): Let the kids run laps around your own house and knocking on the door for candy. Or let them knock on each door inside the house (bedrooms, office, bathroom) and have someone else in each room waiting to dole out the goodies.
Family Game night: For families with littles this could be simple party games like pin the spider on the web, a Halloween bean bag toss, or a scavenger hunt. For families with older kids, there would be no better time for a murder mystery game or try one of these terrifying board games.
Candy Corner: This could be a build an ice cream sundae bar, a DIY caramel apple buffet, or a candy fondue station. (If there was ever a time to break out that chocolate fountain from your wedding in 2010, it’s now.)
Candy Taste Test: Cut up ten of your favorite candies into bite-sized pieces and give each family member a paper numbered 1-10. Place a different candy next to each number and taste each one together and give them scores from 1-5. See which candy wins. Spoiler alert: everyone wins.
Virtual Halloween Party: Host a virtual Halloween party over video chat! (Costumes mandatory) Do the monster mash, hold a virtual costume contest, and sync up a Netflix so everyone can watch a scary movie together.
Jack-o-lantern Contest: Save your pumpkin carving for the big night, instead of doing it beforehand. Let everyone carve their own and give out awards for scariest, silliest, and most creative.
Halloween Bonfire: Get the fire pit going, roast some marshmallows and see who can tell the scariest ghost story. While you’re at it set up a smores bar with graham crackers, marshmallows, and all of your favorite chocolate bars.
What are your Halloween plans this year? I seriously want to know!