2020 Alternative Halloween Fun


This year Halloween falls at the perfect time: it is on a Saturday, and there will also be a full moon that rarely happens on Halloween to make the night extra spooky. Of course, while we are still in the middle of a pandemic, many people are very disappointed that they cannot safely have the huge Halloween bash that they were planning. Since our youngest was born, my family always does a family Halloween costume and this year will be no exception. However, my family has also been limiting our exposure outside of our house to keep our family safe and healthy, so we feel that a few Halloween experiences will not be happening this year for us: no haunted houses, no parties, and no traditional trick-or-treat. But that’s not to say that Halloween is canceled! Of course, there are fall activities that can be done safely, and there are still lots of ideas for alternative Halloween fun to make the day and night exciting for the kiddos in a year where there have been a lot of disappointments. So if you’re still not quite sure how you want to handle Halloween this year, here are 31 ways to celebrate this October 31st safely. 

Alternate Trick-or-Treat

Generally, I do feel that trick-or-treat can be done in a socially distanced manner and most of the area is still allowing trick-or-treat. We personally won’t be walking door to door in the traditional manner, which the CDC warns is higher risk, but I’ve seen lots of ideas on social media which got me thinking of other ways that would allow people to still walk their neighborhood and keep their distance while collecting treats along the way. I’m hopeful that my neighborhood will consider these things. Because we are usually out trick-or-treating ourselves, we usually leave our light off, but this year, I’ll do one of these things so kids will get something safely. Those who like to see the kids all dressed up can still sit out on their porch and wave and say, “Happy Halloween” from a safe distance. Just be sure to wash those hands before you prepare for any social distanced trick-or-treat, and remember that wrapped items can also be wiped down, or parents can unwrap and bag candy in a new bag, or candy can be quarantined a few days at home for extra precautions. 

  1. Create a chute or slide from a cardboard shipping container, PVC pipe, or a gutter to send candy from the door down the railing to the sidewalk. 
  2. Set up a table at the end of the driveway and lay candy out, distanced from each other for kids to grab a piece or two of candy. Add a bottle of sanitizer to the table.
  3. Create treat grab bags or cups and set them on the table and include a cute sign that says to please only take one.
  4. If you’re more Pinterest-y than me and want to do something other than candy, decorate microwave popcorn bags like this
  5. Glue or tape candy to wooden skewers and stick them throughout your yard. 
  6. Create a punch-a-pumpkin game for the treats. Check out this video. You can have some extra tissue paper and treats ready to replace the ones already punched. 
  7. Instead of candy, consider setting out glowsticks, spider rings, Halloween pencils, mini Playdough, or other fun items. This is not only good to keep potential germs away from kids’ mouths, but also safe for kiddos with food allergies.
  8. Hang some rope or twine between two trees and use clothespins to attach treats for kids to grab (hang it low enough for kids to reach). 
  9. If you like to decorate your yard for Halloween, make the treats part of it–attach candy to skeletons, make a graveyard of candy, or paint some pegboard like a pumpkin or a ghost and stick suckers in to grab, carnival game style.
  10. Fill a bucket or cooler with some ice and some kid-friendly drinks, like Capri Suns or juice boxes. (Maybe do an adult-friendly cooler too!)
    Halloween at-home If any kind of trick-or-treat feels too risky for your family, there are certainly ways to make it still feel like a fun day for your kiddos while staying safer at home. Or if you’re cutting out some of your other traditional parties or haunted houses, add in some new things so they don’t miss their usual fun activities too much.
  11. Start Halloween celebrations right when they wake up with a Halloween-themed breakfast-make pumpkin or ghost-shaped pancakes or make syrup look like a spider web. (My kids watch some guys on YouTube that do pancake art; I don’t think I can manage all that, but if you can, I need pictures!)
  12. Think of Easter this Halloween–fill their Halloween buckets with their favorite things for them to wake up to on Halloween morning. 
  13. Similarly, create a Halloween egg hunt. Repurpose those plastic eggs and hide them in the yard. If you’re feeling really creative, you could always paint or draw on the eggs to make them more Halloween-y (yes, I’m making that a word).
  14. Throw your own party just for your house. Decorate the inside of the house and have a dance party with glowsticks. 
  15. Kids can’t decide on a costume? Let them get more than one and have a Halloween fashion show. Check thrift stores and swap sites for cheaper, used costumes. (I buy costumes on clearance at the end of the season to save for dress-up.)
  16. Make dinner Halloween-themed. Make Hallo-weenies (hotdogs wrapped in crescent rolls) or pumpkin-shaped quesadillas. 
  17. Bake some pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies and decorate them with the kiddos. 
  18. Have a pumpkin carving or painting contest, depending on the age of your children. 
  19. Make it a movie night and let the kids stay up to watch scary movies in their costumes and create a popcorn bar. Okay, maybe not so scary movies for the little ones so they aren’t waking up scared in the middle of the night–just stick to the family-friendly Halloween-themed movies. 
  20. Call up your family and friends and have a virtual Halloween party so everyone can still show off their costumes and everyone can ooh and ah about how cute everyone is. Or gasp at how scary they are. 
  21. Create a game night. Of course, you could just use your standard board games and just have fun, but if you want to go all out on Halloween, Amazon has a bunch of carnival type games, like ring toss onto witches hats or pin the spider on the web. 
  22. Make Halloween bingo. There are plenty of free printables online, and obviously, you must use candy or snacks as the markers for the card and let them eat some as they go. 
  23. Buy all the ingredients for a caramel apple making bar and get creative with all the toppings. 
  24. Let the kids dress you up and do your makeup and your hair. Then post all the pictures.
  25. Dress up and create a photo booth with silly props. You can still keep all the cuteness of the kids in their costumes and post the pics to social media. I love seeing the creative costumes from my family and friends. 
     Safe Halloween in the Community Maybe you do just really want to get out of your house and do something, but trick-or-treat is just a bit too much for you. There are lots of safer Halloween events popping up that you can find with a little searching on Facebook. Plus, you can create your own fun in the community while staying safe. 
  26. Create a scavenger hunt. Drive around town like you might for Christmas lights, but do it in daylight and create a list of things for the kiddos to search for as you drive around town. The driver won’t be able to play, however! 
  27. Drive-thru trunk-or-treats. Instead of walking from car to car, some organizations are doing a drive-thru so people can still see cool decorated trunks, and some have masked participants to hand out candy and goodies to the cars that come through in a lower contact situation than a traditional trunk-or-treat. 
  28. The Niabi Zoo and the Quad City Botanical Gardens are having Halloween-themed events with Covid-19 precautions in place, so reservations are required.
  29. Check out the Blue-Grass Drive-in. They will be open through the end of the month and have been playing some Halloween-themed movies and you can stay safe in your own car!
  30. Drive through the Not-So-Haunted Fejuvary on October 24.


Just for adults

Let’s be honest. The last seven months or so have been really challenging for us parents. So this last one is just for you and your significant other. 

31. Do some of the fun stuff above for the kiddos. Then put the kids to bed early. Create         some Halloween-themed cocktails or mocktails and have a date night at home. Watch a       movie, play games, sit by the fire. Just do something to focus on you. 

2020 has been brutal, but if nothing else, 2020 has shown us that we can be creative with our celebrations of everything from graduations to weddings to holidays. We don’t need to cancel everything to have fun in safe, healthy, alternative ways. 


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Maggie Hensler is a wife, mother and high school teacher living in Iowa. Besides keeping busy with her two boys, teaching and coaching the speech and debate team, Maggie enjoys couponing as a hobby and as a way to stretch dollars to allow her family to still enjoy the finer things in life on a teacher's salary!



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