Creativity is a must to keep Halloween fun (and safe) for kids this year

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Will COVID be the scariest thing this Halloween? While kids are focused on the costumes, candy, and pumpkin carving, parents have the worry and threat of coronavirus to contend with, especially with the rise of cases in the state. As with birthdays and the Fourth of July, our creativity will be put to the test again this year to make Halloween 2020 a fun and safe celebration.

This does not mean canceling Halloween. As parents, we can set the tone and example for our children by focusing on the fun but new ways we can celebrate the holiday this year. The good news is that we are all in this together. There are many ideas already circulating online to get your creative juices flowing! One great resource is this Harvard Global Health Institute website, dedicated to Halloween ideas based on your local COVID risk level (sadly, we are in the “red” here in Minnesota).

Rather than striking down specific activities, the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health emphasizes different levels of risk for traditional Halloween activities. There are certain principles that have remained consistent since the pandemic began:

  • Outdoors is safer than indoors.
  • Wear masks – costume masks are not sufficient. Put on your usual face mask underneath, if needed.
  • Avoid large groups of people (under 25 if outside, under 10 if inside)
  • Maintain social distancing
  • Stay home if you are sick or have recently been exposed to someone with COVID

So what does this all mean for the beloved Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating?

  • Even with all the precautions in place, remember that the more contact we have with others outside of our own household, the higher the likelihood of spreading COVID.
  • The safest way to trick-or-treat is to limit our contact with others.
  • Treats should be left out for kids rather than the usual door-knocking. Individually bagged items are safer than a communal “grab bowl.”
  • Keep distance from other groups of trick-or-treaters. Travel in a small group of people from your own household or those with whom you have more regular contact.
  • And of course, use hand sanitizer during trick-or-treating as well as before and after eating all those yummy treats.

If you forgo the cold (or even snow) this year, other fun ideas include:

  • Set up a fun scavenger hunt
  • Try a Halloween piñata
  • Trick-or-treat from room to room within your house
  • In place of the usual in-person Halloween costume parties, launch a Zoom party and compete across states or even countries for the best costume! If you do have others over to your house for a party, keep the invite list small, try outdoor fun or keep windows and doors open to encourage air circulation.

With a bit of extra planning and creativity, Halloween 2020 can still be as spooky, zany, and fun as ever!

About the author

Dr Leslie King-SchultzLeslie King-Schultz is a primary care pediatrician at Hennepin Healthcare’s Brooklyn Park Clinic and supervising physician for pediatric residents at the downtown Clinic & Specialty Center. She received her master’s in public health at the University of Minnesota, focusing on community health and health disparities in 2004. She then moved “south” to receive her medical degree and complete her pediatric residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She has been in practice at Hennepin Healthcare since 2014. As a parent of three young children, she understands the unique challenges and tradeoffs that the pandemic poses for parents, especially with the holiday season upon us.

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