Ohhh, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected so many aspects of life, and Halloween will be no exception. I want all of our children to have something to look forward to this Halloween, and I think they can. Of course most pediatricians and public health experts advise children and adults avoid large gatherings, maintain a distance of six feet from others, wear cloth face coverings (think Superhero!) and wash hands frequently. So the school activities have to be different, the trick-or-treating changed or avoided, but the celebration in general does not have to be squelched. I mean, my boys have wrangled more candy out of me this year. And I’m saying that’s OKAY.
The bottom line: trick or treating in its traditional form, isn’t likely the best choice for most families. But Halloween can go on as can the celebration and silliness!
Dressing up is simply fun for lots of people. My son is walking around today — and doing zoom class — in his taco. And so…..Halloween is still ON but just in a new, 2020 form. We’re doing an outdoor scavenger hunt in our neighborhood with a few families — wearing masks and handing out candy at certain stations tied to a number of clues. This will go on even if it snows (like it did last year) in Wisconsin. Weather just isn’t an excuse for going inside on Halloween.
Smart, you-may-already-know advice: If trick-or-treating occurs in a community, families should be careful to avoid groups or clustering at doorsteps or at any other place. Residents who wish to hand out treats may consider sitting outdoors and they should wear cloth face coverings. They may also consider handing out individually pre-packed treat bags. The role of touching objects in the spread of COVID-19 is not yet clear at this point, but to be on the safe side, if your child collects treats from a few, socially distanced neighbors, you may want to wipe the packages with a sanitizing cloth or let them sit for a couple of days before the child can access them.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following additional tips to help children enjoy a healthy, safe Halloween:
- Meet with friends virtually & show off costumes. Have fun with it! In cold climates, this may be the first time your child can wear a costume that isn’t buried under a parka. With so many schools already virtual, many children are already Zoom pros.
- When planning a costume, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats. If children plan to use their cloth face coverings as part of their costume, they should not paint them, as some paints contain toxins.
- Celebrate with a movie night and dress as your favorite characters. Do this as a family at home or consider letting your child watch with their friends while video chatting, with everyone starting the movie at the same time. Common Sense Media can help you pick an awesome, age-appropriate choice. May I suggest My Octopus Teacher??? Beautiful.
- Look for community events focused on safe ways to have fun, such as programs offered by a park district, arboretum, pumpkin patch, zoo or other outdoor venues in your area. Avoid indoor events such as haunted houses. Avoid crowds and clustering and follow safe distance rules even when outdoors.
- Decorate pumpkins. Pumpkin those babies! And let children can draw a face with markers — parents can do the cutting. I sincerely think those tools at the grocery store help (the serrated knives really do make it easier).
- If children are outdoors, consider marking costumes with reflective tape. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement, or contact with flame. Remind children to be careful around cars (Halloween is risky from a car vs pedestrian sense) as drivers may not see them. Watch out for cars!
- Ummmmm, and as ever, remind everyone to wash hands really well when you return home.
Teal Pumpkin Project
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give my yearly plug to the Teal Pumpkin Project. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Teal Pumpkin Project was created by FARE to make Halloween more inclusive for food-allergic children. Halloween can be a tricky time for families managing food allergies. Many traditional Halloween treats aren’t safe for children with life-threatening food allergies. The Teal Pumpkin Project promotes safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies. This worldwide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option. It keeps Halloween a fun, positive experience for all and also provides the BEST “treats.”
Happy Halloween! I’m likely going to dress up as RBG. Just have to — missing her so much.