COVID is Spooky – Halloween doesn’t need to be.

The first time my son, Gus, was old enough to “get” the concept of trick-or-treating was memorable. He donned his firefighting costume, strapped on his oxygen tank, fastened his helmet, and headed out with two very eager parents. What we failed to notice was that before we left the house, Gus had filled his trick-or-treating basket with candy …from our house.

The unveiling of his understanding happened at the first door. Gus rang the bell, said “trick-or-treat,” reached into his basket, and handed the neighbor a piece of candy. It was such a sweet gesture and no matter how many ways we tried to explain, (“Gus, that’s not now it works.”) he kept it up. House to house he went, passing out candy along the way. The evening ended up being **hands down** my favorite Halloween – ever!

Halloween, for many parents, is beloved. It opens the door to creating traditions, making memories, and allowing children the freedom to “try on” other identities. For children, the lead up to October 31st is a BIG part of the fun. For approximately 350+ days, Boulder Country Day School teachers have listened to the children chatter about who/what they are going to “BE.” Spider Man, unicorns, ninjas, Elsa, witches, tigers… And, yet with fewer than 10 days to go, many of us fear that COVID may kibosh the children’s planning and scare the fun right out of treasured holiday traditions.

Below are some tips and tricks to help ensure that your family does not say BOO! to celebrating Halloween:

Don’t Skip… Flip (Traditional Trick or Treating)!

•            Consider rethinking the model. Before heading out with your children, fill up a basket of candy to carry with you. As you walk through your neighborhood, decide what you and your child will look for and put a piece of candy in your child’s basket each time you see a decorated house, a witch, skeletons, a front yard cemetery… Approach the idea with a scavenger hunt mindset. Get creative!

•            If you feel that you cannot skip traditional trick-or-treating, look for houses that have candy spread out “grab-and-go” style so that children can take a piece as they pass. Avoid spaces that look crowded or where people are not wearing masks and be sure to sanitize hands often.

•            If you decide to forgo trick-or-treating altogether, consider hiding individually wrapped candy throughout your house or yard, and let the kids go find it. For older kids, make it a challenge! Write clues that lead them from one spot to another – with the end game being a basket full of Halloween candy.

Mask Up!

•            Darth Vader’s helmet is strong, but it won’t stop the force of COVID. Build your child’s costume around a cloth mask. Follow Colorado’s Department of Public Health tips and tricks guidelines for Halloween and remember that a costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.

•            Be sure to test the mask first to ensure that it does not make it difficult for your child to breathe. A costume mask over top of a protective cloth mask can be dangerous.

Stay Close to Home, and Far From Others!

•            If you go out, stay in your neighborhood and avoid large groups. Stay with your household members and avoid mingling with people from other households. If you find yourself with people that are not from your immediate household, practice social distancing.

•            If you really want/need to be with others, try to stick with people who are already part of your family’s quaranTEAM.

Find a Silver Lining!

COVID is spooky, but it does not need to scare away Halloween traditions. Use it as a catalyst for starting a new tradition. Now that Gus is older, I have to say that about two days after Halloween, I am HATING all that candy. Why not use COVID as an opportunity to say bye-bye to sugar-overload? Family pumpkin carving contest? Porch decorating? Spooky movie night? Candlelight ghost stories? Halloween baking/cookie decorating? Homemade glow in the dark slime? Virtual costume contest (that can, in the future shift to in-person)? Mailing candy to our military troops? 

COVID has certainly changed the way we do almost everything in our lives, but not all of it has been negative. Many of the lifestyle changes we’ve adopted this year may end of becoming permanent changes even after the pandemic has ended because we’ve realized what is truly important and valuable in our lives. This Halloween will look different, but that does not mean worse. Be together, create memories, and be safe.

Happy Halloween!