All Ages

9 Fun Ideas for a Safe and Happy Halloween

by Jennifer Clare

socially distant halloween
Image credit: Peter Muller/Getty Images

My childhood home resides at the end of a very long driveway set back in the woods. It gives off a “Haunted House” vibe on its own, so Halloween decorations were never really necessary. The rustle of animals scurrying through fallen leaves mixed with the mass of trees that surround the house was creepy enough without adding fake cobwebs (ours were real) and ghost-shaped cardboard cutouts. Throw in a moonless night and no one was knocking on our door for fear of a possible “trick” with their treats.

Needless to say, we were usually left with a lot of left-over candy. Coming home after a night of collecting more candy than we could ever eat, my sister and I were delighted to add the leftovers to our already ridiculous stash (with a few pieces taken by our chocolate-loving mom).

Flash forward to the present: I am now the chocolate-loving mom (one does not survive quarantine with a new baby without becoming addicted to sweets). I’ve been looking forward to taking my little pumpkin trick-or-treating and claiming the candy for myself, but for my family’s safety, we won’t be going door-to-door this year. Now, that doesn’t mean my daughter’s first Halloween won’t still be a fun and memorable experience! Here are some fresh and festive ways to celebrate Halloween while staying safe and healthy. 

Books for Treats

Gather up your little ghosts and ghouls for 13 nights of Halloween storytime, complete with snacks, cozy blankets, and a new book every day. From fright-free stories for little readers to twisted tales for tweens to suspenseful stories for teens, books can be just as sweet a treat as candy!

Have a Ghostly Candy Hunt

Fill glow-in-the-dark plastic eggs with candy and hide them around the house. Turn out the lights and set your kids loose for a spooky Halloween candy hunt. You can also use flashlights and candy if you don’t have plastic eggs at home.  

halloween scavenger hunt
Image credit: svetikd/Getty Images

Decorate Your Own Haunted House

Skulls, bats, and spiders — oh my! Decorating this sweet and tasty Haunted Manor Cookie Kit will have your family screaming with fright, er… I mean delight.

Host a Family Pumpkin Carving Party

Gather up the carving tools, ready your pumpkin, turn up the Halloween tunes, and carve away! Instead of the traditional triangle eyes and toothy grin, find inspiration from your family’s bookshelves with these stencils featuring beloved children’s book characters. Painting pumpkins is a fun alternative for kids too young to handle sharp tools. And don’t forget to roast those pumpkin seeds for a delicious seasonal snack.

Halloween Scavenger Hunt

Print out this fun outdoor activity, and have fun taking a walk around the neighborhood searching for things on the list. Add in flashlights and play at night for an extra dose of spooky. 

BOO Your Neighbors

Secretly leave a goodie bag filled with treats on your neighbor’s doorstep. Be sure to include a cute poem and instructions on how to keep the fun going. Kids love the treats and the mystery of it all, but being the one who gets to “BOO” is so fun!

Visit a Drive-Thru Haunted House

For older kids who love a good scare, drive-thru, contact-free haunted houses are a novel approach to spooky hayrides. Encounter frightening creatures, menacing characters, and terrifying special effects — all from the comfort of your family car.

Host a Whodunit Mystery Game Night

Purchase and print out one of these kid-friendly whodunnit games, have your kids get into character (bonus points if they dress the part), and prepare for a night of mystery and intrigue. Your family will love this immersive experience that fosters creativity and imagination. If your kids want their friends to get in on the fun, host the mystery game night through Zoom or another video-calling platform! 

Trunk or Treat

For families still hoping to trick-or-treat this year, trunk-or-treating might be a safe option. During trunk or treat events, families decorate the back of their cars for Halloween and gather in a parking lot for kids to trick-or-treat from car to car. These are often RSVP events to control crowds, but also be sure to follow the CDC guidelines by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. Check out your local school websites and town newspaper to see if there will be any in your area.