Many of us have become discouraged following the cancellation of many local favorite Halloween events due to COVID-19. We have been left wondering how we can still partake in a “normal” Halloween this year.

The need for normal is, guess what? Normal! So, if you are wondering how you can celebrate Halloween this year without having to sacrifice tradition – we have got you covered.

What does Halloween mean to you?

For many, it means dressing up and going door-to-door collecting candy. Or it could mean watching spooky movies while carving pumpkins. There are even those who celebrate by going to haunted houses or hosting hayrides.

How about all the above?! Psychiatrist Dr. Nancy Rappaport and psychologist Amy Smith say that children need a sense of normalcy and routine. It is important to keep traditions going during this time of distress.

Making tough decisions

The NCA, National Confectioners Association, took a poll and found that 63% of adults say they will still safely participate in the Halloween season this year.

The first step in making an informed decision on how to celebrate Halloween this year is to review the CDC’s Halloween safety recommendations. Also, note that these are recommendations and not laws that are set in stone.

Most importantly, sit down with your children and have a discussion. Get their input and see how they feel. It is important to give your child a sense of control in these situations.

Finally, see how your local community is dealing with COVID-19. You can find your local data here. Are rates going down? Do you have at-risk family members?

How do I celebrate?

If you decide to partake in trick-or-treating, here is what is suggested:

  • You and your child should wear a cloth mask that has two layers of breathable fabric. Be careful with layering costume masks over cloth masks as that can hinder breathing.
  • Try to keep social distancing rules in place as chaperones and children walk door-to-door. A “follow the leader” approach can be utilized here rather than herding a crowd.
  • Pass out candy in pre-portioned goodie bags, preferably lined up on a table to limit the “handing out” aspect that can transmit germs.

The good news is that several doctors have reported that the transmission of coronaviruses on surfaces is so low that it is not necessary to sanitize the pieces of candy.

Alternatives to trick-or-treating

If you choose to participate in a more low-risk Halloween activity – that’s okay too!

Pumpkin patches are still open in most cities. Here is a list of local Polk County favorites.

Universal Halloween Horror Nights has been canceled this year, but they are still unveiling two of their haunted houses if that is your thing.

You can even set up your own “haunted maze” in your home for your children to walk through, with candy at the end. And, if you can get other friends and family members in on it, host a virtual costume contest!

The level at which you choose to celebrate is personal to each individual. Just remember to respect other parents’ decisions, wash your hands, and stay safe and have fun!