Spookily safe: How to celebrate Halloween during a pandemic

Jack o’ Lantern staying safe.

Halloween is one of the most exciting and long-awaited holidays of the year, and for good reason. It is one of the few holidays of the year, and definitely the biggest one, that doesn’t usually involve a big family dinner or gathering where you are tasked with entertaining your grandparents while your parents panic because the food is burning in the kitchen. Typically, Halloween is celebrated by dressing up, trick-or-treating with friends, or having a ‘spooky’ party without all the usual holiday stress that Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter involve. 


However, if you haven’t noticed by now, this year is definitely not a normal one. COVID-19 has gotten in the way of many usual events of the year, and sadly, Halloween is no different. 


We love all of the Halloween traditions that make the holiday so special and adored, but many of them are definitely not based around socially distanced or sanitary activities. Trick-or-treating for example, probably the most popular Halloween activity, is a memorable and important part of most childhoods, but it is one of the worst offenders of COVID safety this year.


Think about it, trick-or-treating is when children (and some adults) get dressed up in the best possible costumes, walk around the neighborhood in packs, knocking on people’s doors, screaming, “Trick or Treat!!!” at the person who opens the door. To which the person responds by extending a bowl of candy towards the children, watching all of the little sugar addicts rummage through the bowl to find their favorite candy or trying to slip eight pieces into their bag even though they were told to only pick two. Once the group has repeated this process at as many houses as possible, carrying their germs to every place they stop by, they typically form up and have a candy (and germs) trading ceremony where they all trick their friends into giving them a full-size Hershey bar for a pack of raisins. 


Any other year, this would be a cute and exciting event, but this year, in light of all the new realizations about our society’s sanitization standards, it seems like an open invitation for Coronavirus to run rampant among the entire neighborhood. 


According to the CDC, some of the highest risk activities are trick-or-treating, trunk-or-treating, costume parties, and going to haunted houses. 


These activities all involve contact with people being extremely close, and even though the spirit of Halloween is to experience the spooky horrors together, this time we are all going to have to split up. In the horror movie that is 2020, it’s the best option for us all to make it out.


However, while this definitely shouldn’t, and hopefully won’t, be a traditional Halloween, there are still many options available for a fun celebration.


Some of the best ideas that are sure to minimize the risk of spreading Coronavirus as much as possible while still enjoying the holiday are things like making Halloween themed foods with your family, or on a virtual video chat with friends, carving pumpkins and then having a virtual contest with friends, having a virtual costume contest, or having a small, socially distanced gathering where you can play various Halloween games. If you haven’t noticed a theme here, basically just pick an activity that you could do with friends, and do it virtually from the comfort of your own home. 


As you can see, while these ideas aren’t necessarily the worst, they’re obviously not ideal. Let’s not lie to ourselves and act like this may be the perfect Halloween, because it’s definitely going to require some adaptability, which for most people isn’t something that is always enjoyable. But let’s try to use some creativity and not just let this holiday slide by. 


Our society, mostly due to the innovation of our generation, has been able to learn and communicate through technology and social media better than we ever have before. Distance is no longer something that stops us from staying connected and social with people, so why should distance stop us from celebrating one of our most beloved holidays? 


These ideas are all just general, easy ideas, but to really enjoy the holiday this year, we need to enable ourselves to become more creative and adaptable. The best idea is to put something together yourself. We all enjoy different things, and have different circumstances, so test yourself this year and try to make this Halloween fun and safe for yourself and your loved ones.


Although no pandemic is ideal, we have been able to adapt and learn during our “new normal”. Many communities made a lot of progress, and it hasn’t been easy, but so many people have worked very hard to keep each other safe.


Due to the nature of coronavirus, throwing caution to the wind and having parties, going trick-or-treating, and any other unsafe Halloween activity, could undermine all of the hard earned progress we have made. This virus spreads quickly and easily, so even just one night of irresponsibility could lead to another spike in cases.


According to Forbes, since the pandemic hit the US in March, cases of COVID-19 have consistently spiked after each major holiday. There was an increase in the number of cases directly after the 4th of July and Labor Day, and it is easy to identify that this uptick was caused by people ignoring the social distancing rules and regulations in the name of these holidays. Let’s not let Halloween have the same results. If we are ever going to steady ourselves, we need to stay diligent through the holidays, and not let ourselves forget that we are still in a pandemic. 


This Halloween, like every other event of 2020, is going to look different, and it definitely should. Halloween season is supposed to be scary, but not in that way. Do your part to keep everyone as safe as possible. We shouldn’t let Halloween go uncelebrated, but it still is not an excuse to let our guard down. We just need to be creative, safe, mindful, and a little bit spooky this season.