With activities such as crowded costume parties, traditional trick-or-treating, hayrides, in-person concerts and festivals cancelled or discouraged this year due to COVID-19, for many, Halloween will look a little different. However, there are still many ways you can celebrate and enjoy the holiday!

Here are some ideas of what to do for Halloween while staying home this year.

Start A Halloween Countdown

As you eagerly anticipate the spookiest night of the year, keep the excitement high with a special Halloween countdown. This can take many forms, including everything from a candy-filled, October-themed advent calendar to a simple reminder on a chalkboard.

Advent style, Halloween countdown calendar.

“Halloween countdown Calendar” by simplykidsocala is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Up the ante with a ritual for changing the number of days remaining on your display. Perhaps you’ll play the same song or use a hokey phrase as you mark the passing of another day. You’ll love the growing sense of anticipation.

Make A Halloween Mask

It’s become the norm to wear face masks as the coronavirus continues on, and Halloween is no exception. Make the most of it by creating unique Halloween face masks at home! Use cloth materials with festive patterns or designs, break out the glitter and sequins, and find an online tutorial to guide you through the sewing process. Kids will love designing and decorating their own mask, but whether or not you have children, you’ll enjoy creating something special.

You can also make your own spooky costume masks using soft crafting foam, felt, cardstock, cardboard or paper plates, and find an online printable template or stencil if needed to get the pattern you’re after. Use stickers, markers, washi tape and any other materials to decorate. Use an elastic strap to hold your mask in place.

Scary skull Halloween mask.

“Halloween (2 be or Not 2 be)” by Erwss, peace&love is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0.

However, be aware that the CDC has clarified that costume masks are NOT substitutes for cloth face masks to prevent the spread of COVID. You should also NOT wear a cloth face mask over a costume face mask, or vice versa, which could impact your ability to breathe. They state:

“Do not use costume masks in place of cloth masks

  • Do not use a costume mask (such as for Halloween) as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face.
  • Do not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.” – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html

Another option: BigHead cutouts, which you can simply hold in front of your face. With this approach, the options are endless. You can go conventional with images of vampires, witches, and mummies, or try for characters from your favorite Halloween movies. This is a great method for greeting socially distanced trick-or-treaters from the safety of your porch, as visitors might otherwise struggle to see your costume from afar.

Throw A Halloween Party for Your Pod

If you and your neighbors, friends, or extended family members have formed a quarantine pod, consider using this opportunity to celebrate together. Here are some special touches to make your celebration memorable:

  • Dress up in outlandish costumes – The goofier your outfit, the better!
  • Enjoy treats other than trick-or-treating candy – From caramel apples to chocolate mud cake graveyards, several thematic snacks can elevate your Halloween party.
  • Stage a shadow puppet performance – Ghost stories are fun, but visuals are even better. Look up a few easy shadow puppets in advance and set up lighting with help from a lamp or flashlight. With a little practice and an engaging story, you’ll be sure to impress your kids.
  • Carve or paint pumpkins – Pumpkin carving is fun regardless of whether the final product goes on display for a large crowd of trick-or-treaters to see. If anything, this is the perfect opportunity to try challenging designs.
  • Incorporate cardboard cutouts – Whether they feature costumed versions of loved ones or they’re your favorite mythical monster, cardboard cutouts can instantly make your bash exciting. Place them throughout your home for a festive feel.

    Pumpkin carving is a fun halloween activity.

    “Jack” by Jason OX4 is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0.

Host A Virtual Halloween Bash

While in-person Halloween gatherings should be limited to your immediate family or your quarantine pod, it’s still possible to include a larger crowd. You’ll simply need to meet virtually. Zoom offers the perfect solution.

If you throw a Zoom Halloween party, all attendees should wear costumes and decorate their surroundings. This provides multiple opportunities for contests! In addition to the typical award for best costume, you can also highlight the virtual attendee with the spookiest backdrop. Cardboard cutouts can help you create the perfect ambiance.

In addition, consider incorporating these virtual party games:

  • Who’s Who – Instruct attendees to conceal their identity and create new usernames. They can wear masks or otherwise dress up to make themselves difficult to identify. From there, partygoers can play who’s who.
  • Halloween Trivia – Play Halloween trivia involving tidbits about horror films or facts about the holiday’s history. Participants can be divided into teams or play on their own. The honor system is fine if you’re not intent on keeping score. Otherwise, participants can type their answers in private chat.
  • Virtual Murder Mystery – If you’re feeling ambitious, host a virtual murder mystery. You can plan the event yourself or let an app take care of the hard work.
  • Virtual Haunted House Tour – Give a virtual haunted house tour. If you love to go all-out with spooky decorations, you might as well show them off to those who cannot visit in person. Simply take your webcam with you as you guide virtual attendees through your frightening home. Try a practice run, complete with eerie lighting and camera angles. Enlist a few household members to increase the fear factor by dressing up and delivering jump scares.

Trick-or-Treating Tips for Social Distancing

If you’re struggling to determine what to do on Halloween night, consider moving forward with a modified, socially-distanced version of trick-or-treating. As it takes place outdoors, involves small groups, and should include face mask usage, it’s a lower-risk version of the traditional door-to-door, close-contact routine.

To start, ditch the usual shared bowl, and instead, place treats on your steps or lawn at least six feet apart. Use Halloween-themed cardboard cutouts to break up the space and direct the flow of pedestrian traffic.

If you’re not comfortable with in-person trick-or-treating, consider opting for a drive-by alternative. This limited contact option can still feel special if you use a Halloween playlist, dress up in costumes, and decorate your vehicle.

Watch Your Favorite Halloween Movies

Whether you choose to venture out for trick-or-treating or remain comfy at home, the right movies will keep you entertained. With Halloween falling on a weekend this year, you can plan the ultimate movie marathon. This could include the entirety of your favorite horror franchise. If you want variety, however, feel free to add the following to your list:

  • Hocus Pocus
  • It Follows
  • Beetlejuice
  • Frankenweenie
  • The Addams Family
  • Ghostbusters
  • Donnie Darko
  • Halloweentown
  • Young Frankenstein
Opening shot from Young Frankenstein movie.

“Young Frankenstein (1974)” by twm1340 is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0.

You can also enjoy spooky or silly TV shows throughout the month — or binge-watch several episodes during Halloween weekend. Top options include Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Stranger Things, and What We Do in the Shadows.

Create a Halloween Song Playlist

Throughout the month, enjoy Halloween-themed songs from your specially curated playlist. These can also serve as the perfect background music for special occasions with your quarantine pod — or even for a Zoom dance party.

Your ultimate Halloween playlist may include soundtrack songs from several of the movies highlighted above, as well as the following essentials:

  • Monster Mash
  • Purple People Eater
  • Disturbia
  • Werewolves of London
  • I’m in Love With a Monster
  • Black Magic Woman
  • Heads Will Roll

This October might look a bit different, but there are still plenty of opportunities to celebrate Halloween in style. Embrace creating new traditions, and don’t hesitate incorporating life-sized cardboard cutouts into your festivities.