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From parties at home to scary movie nights, here are some creative ways to celebrate Halloween this year.

“Trick or treat!” When you think of Halloween, you probably think of kids in Halloween costumes going house-to-house and filling their bags with sweet treats. 

But this year, with CDC guidelines advising against traditional trick or treating, your usual Halloween plans have likely changed. The good news is you can still have fun this Halloween without going door-to-door — and it’s easier than you think.

Finding inspiration

“At Halloween, most kids just want to wear their costumes and get candy,” says Dr. Dana Smith, a pediatrician at Geisinger's Lock Haven clinic. “There are plenty of ways for them to do that this year without feeling like they’re missing out.”

Being home with your family can be a source of inspiration this Halloween. Ask children for suggestions on decoration themes and ways to celebrate. Browse the web for inexpensive décor. Then turn to local farm stands for things like pumpkins and corn stalks to set the perfect scene.

Here are 6 alternative ways to celebrate Halloween this year: 

1. Pack pre-made goodie bags

Treat bags are a great way to pass out holiday indulgences from a distance. Put together Halloween goodie bags for your friends and neighbors and drop them off on doorsteps. They’ll delight at the sight of sacks filled with their favorite treats like:

  • Baked goods
  • Candy
  • Photos

Bonus tip: Besides seasonal sundries, add some hand sanitizer or a favorite fall-scented soap for mom and dad.

For an even bigger surprise, personalize bags with notes and drop them off when your friends, family and neighbors aren’t home. The whole family can get in on the fun.

2. Throw a party at home

Due to social distancing restrictions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, most of us will be staying away from large get-togethers. But you can still have a small gathering with your immediate loved ones. “Hosting a small Halloween party at home is a great way to enjoy the season together safely,” says Dr. Smith. 

Set the mood by putting on costumes, hanging decorations and playing spooky tunes. Play games together and munch on your favorite seasonal delights. And if you’re feeling bold, encourage everyone to show off their moves with a spooky dance party.

3. Host a Halloween candy hunt

Instead of trick-or-treating, have your kids spend time trying to find hidden “eggs.” Start by filling plastic eggs with goodies and stash them around the house or yard. Then the search is on! For even more fun, have a nighttime hunt using glow-in-the-dark eggs. 

4. Have a virtual costume contest

Technology can bring people together for a socially distanced costume contest. Invite participants to log in to a video chat and show off their costumes. Guests can vote for their favorites or categories like funniest or scariest. After the votes are tallied, the winner gets bragging rights. Award prizes like emailed certificates or e-gift cards for an added bonus.

5. Fill a piñata

A piñata offers a creative alternative to traditional trick-or-treating. Whether you’re looking for a piñata to smack with a stick or a pull-string option, you can find one at your local party store. Fill it with trinkets and watch as participants take turns in hopes of making treats rain down.

Don’t want to fill it with candy? No problem. “For a healthier alternative, opt for crayons and coloring pages, gift cards or individually wrapped bags of pretzels,” suggests Dr. Smith.

6. Stay in for scary movie night

From silly to spooky, there’s a wide range of Halloween-themed films to appeal to every taste. Browse titles on your favorite streaming service or cable provider to find something the whole family will enjoy and have a ghoulish time. Don’t forget the popcorn!

No matter what your plans are this Halloween, there are endless ways to have fun. 

“Although this year looks different than past years, it doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy some Halloween celebrations,” reminds Dr. Smith.

 

Next steps:

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