Thirteen Spooky Activities for a Socially-Distanced Halloween

by Jill Morgenstern

With the impact COVID-19 has on children still relatively unknown, parents have mixed feelings about whether or not Halloween traditions should change for this year. Angie Wierzbiki, mother to 5 and 6 year old girls says, “I think I would be okay trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, but not attending one of the numerous community Halloween events.” Rachael Hutchinson is another mother who will let her children trick-or-treat. “Since they’ll be wearing masks like everyone is supposed to, I don’t see the issue!”

Other parents still see it as risky. “I just don’t see how anything is going to be the same this year, so instead of staying home and being disappointed, we booked a little getaway for the weekend,” says Megan Wildgoose of her family’s plans.

Whether or not you choose to let your children trick-or-treat, here are some great ways to celebrate Halloween this year while maintaining social distance:

Host a Virtual Costume Contest

Just because trick-or-treating may be off the table, doesn’t mean kids don’t want to share their costumes. Get together using FaceTime, Zoom, or other video calling methods. Why not have a prize for scariest, funniest, or most original?

Face Painting

Kids love to paint their own faces. Buy a set of face paints, set the kids in front of a mirror, and let their artistic talents shine!

Make a Socially-Distanced “Haunted House”

Setting up pretend spider webs, skeletons, and even old dolls with fake blood can make your front yard into a haunted house for neighbors or friends to enjoy one at a time.

Play “And Then the Boiler Burst”

In this spooky game, players take turns telling a spooky story, either making it up or using a familiar story. A nearby object serves as “base.” At the spookiest part of the story, the storyteller shouts out, “And then the boiler burst!” The first player tagged before reaching base tells the next story.

Make Caramel Apples or Halloween-Themed Treats

If your cooking skill levels are low, there are kits available at many grocery stores around Halloween to help you make traditional caramel apples. A graveyard “dirt cake” made from Oreos is a lot of fun and can be embellished with Nabisco Nutter Butter cookies for ghosts and Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies for gravestones. Or use a donut hole, a LifeSaver gummy candy, and a chocolate chip to make edible eyeballs.

Hold an Outdoor Pumpkin Carving Party

Gather up the safety knives and patterns and head outdoors (six feet apart, of course) to carve pumpkins together! Clean up is a breeze when pumpkins are carved outside and of course younger children could paint theirs instead.

Movie Night

Younger children might love, “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” or “Hotel Transylvania.” Older kids might want something scarier! Whether you host a virtual watch party with friends or cozy up together as a family, a spooky movie will put you in the Halloween mood.

Play With Slime

Make your own or buy some. Add plastic spiders for a creepy effect!

Have a Virtual Halloween Party

Just because you won’t be inviting the entire neighborhood inside your home doesn’t mean you can’t gather online to show each other your costumes and eat treats together! If you gather on apps such as Houseparty, you can even include virtual games.

Tell Ghost Stories or Read Scary Library Books

Family members can take turns telling scary stories. Alternately, check out some Halloween-themed books from the library like The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams. Older kids might enjoy starting the Bunnicula chapter book series by James Howe or the My Undead Life series by Emma T. Graves.

Bob for Apples

You can use a wading pool, large bucket, or tub filled with apples and a bandanna to cover the eyes for this healthy and fun family activity.

Hand Out Candy From Afar

This is the perfect year to sit outside in a lawn chair with candy on a table and let kids take their own.

Candy Scavenger Hunt

Bring the trick-or-treating to your house! Hide candy around the yard or house for little ones to find. Make sure pets don’t have access to the hiding spots! You’ll also want to note all the hiding places so you can gather any candy that wasn’t found.

Socially-Distanced Halloween Ideas from Local Parents

“Make a Halloween Candy Slide! Use a large PVC pipe to slide candy to kids who are standing on an “X” that is at least six feet away. Have your kids help decorate the Candy Slide for a fun activity beforehand!” —Sarah S., Fresno

“Decorate your car for a Spooky Parade! Have your family decorate the car, get in costume, and parade around the neighborhood. You could even contact a few neighbors to see if they want to join in their own cars. Make sure to drive slow and watch for trick-or-treaters!”  —James K., Reedley

“Make your child’s trick-or-treat bag into a Candy Toss Game. Just include a sign on their bag that says, “Candy Toss!” so that neighbors know they should toss the candy. Make sure the sign can be clearly read from six feet away. And be prepared to help pick up any missed tosses!” —Olive R., Clovis

“Create a Halloween Advent-Style Calendar for your kid to enjoy all month. Fill the calendar with candy, toys, and Halloween riddles! Your child will look forward to their prize each day!” —Sandra W., Fresno

“Make a Halloween Piñata! There are tons of DIY Piñata tutorials online. Have fun building and decorating a pumpkin, ghost, or bat. If you are short on time, you could even just decorate a regular cardboard box with orange and black garland.” —Stephanie K., Madera

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