How To Celebrate Halloween Safely This Year

September 30, 2020

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Cristina Cicogna, M.D. contributes to topics such as Infectious Disease.

Updated: 10/28/2020

Because so many birthday parties, family vacations and other childhood milestones have been canceled this year, you may be determined to give your child a Halloween to remember. The safest ways to celebrate the holiday during a pandemic are different than what you’ve done in years past, though, so plan to adapt your usual activities.

We asked Cristina Cicogna, M.D., chief of infectious diseases at Hackensack University Medical Center to weigh in on some tips and tricks for a safe Halloween. Here’s what Dr. Cicogna had to say:

Trick-or-treating guidelines during the pandemic

You may assume that trick-or-treating is safe because it’s an outdoor activity, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers this timeless tradition to be a high-risk activity during the pandemic. Consider that everyone usually reaches their hands into the same communal bowls of candy. Throngs of kids often crowd shoulder-to-shoulder to knock on the same neighbor’s door. Children usually sample the sweets they’ve collected; today, that means that they’d be maskless while munching. Some people may neglect to wear face coverings altogether.

If you plan to trick-or-treat, there are ways to make it safer:

  • wear a cloth mask over your nose and mouth
  • incorporate cloth masks into costume designs, if possible
  • don’t wear Halloween masks instead of, or on top of, cloth masks
  • go in small groups, only with people from your household or bubble
  • stay 6 feet apart from other people and groups
  • when others are getting candy at each house, wait your turn 6 feet away
  • consider only visiting homes that are distributing candy outdoors
  • if neighbors wrap individual bags of candy and space them out on a table, kids can grab them
  • if neighbors place candy directly into trick-or-treat bags, kids will touch fewer things
  • only eat candy outside if you’re socially distanced from others and have used hand sanitizer first
  • use hand sanitizer often, then wash your hands when you return home

If you plan to give candy to trick-or-treaters:

  • wear a cloth mask over your nose and mouth
  • don’t offer candy in a bowl, because many people will put their hands into it
  • put wrapped candy into small individual bags, so children won’t all touch the same items
  • set up a table outside, so people don’t have to touch your doorbell or front door handle
  • place individually wrapped bags of candy on the table, spaced apart, for kids to take themselves
  • have kids open their trick-or-treat bags, so you can drop in candy
  • to add more distance between you and kids, consider using kitchen tongs to place candy in bags

Ways to celebrate Halloween at home

If you don’t feel comfortable trekking around the neighborhood, especially if someone in your household is at higher risk of complications from COVID-19, consider skipping trick-or-treating this year. You can still have fun at home. Try some of these activities:

  • decorate the interior of your home
  • wear Halloween costumes
  • video chat with friends or relatives to show off your costumes
  • watch age-appropriate spooky movies
  • throw a Halloween-themed dance party, with “Thriller,” “Monster Mash” and more
  • carve jack o’lanterns and roast pumpkin seeds
  • serve treats, including your child’s favorite candy, so they don’t feel that they’re missing out
  • hide mini candy bars around the house for your child to find

Halloween activities to avoid this year

Because there’s a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 when you’re in enclosed spaces, steer clear of any indoor activities this Halloween, such as:

  • kids’ Halloween parties that are held indoors
  • adult Halloween parties that are held indoors, especially if there’s alcohol and dancing
  • outdoor Halloween parties that are moved indoors due to rain or cold weather
  • indoor haunted houses, especially if the “haunts” scream
  • outdoor haunted houses in which you can’t maintain 6 feet of distance from others at all times

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care