Halloween is quickly approaching and in a more normal year than this one, October would be a time for celebration, great costumes, trick-or-treating and hopefully, no early snowstorms (unfortunately, this may already be happening as we speak) or infamous blizzards.
Everything is weird right now, but that doesn’t mean that time stops. Halloween can still happen. It can still be fun, but to be safe it should happen differently this year.
“COVID-19 has presented immense challenges for children, parents and families everywhere,” says Madeleine Gagnon, MD, a Complex Care pediatrician and the associate medical director of Pediatrics at Gillette Children’s. “Everyone has had to make a lot of difficult choices and adjustments, so we know it may be tiring to hear about one more, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have outlined lower-risk activities that still make it possible to have a great Halloween.”
Lower-Risk Activities and General Guidelines
Here some of the suggestions for lower-risk activities and general guidelines currently provided by the CDC that offer safer alternatives to a traditional Halloween celebration.
- Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them
- Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
- Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
- Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
- Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
- Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
- Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house-to-house
The Minnesota Department of Health has resources to help you safely navigate holiday gatherings.
Additionally, the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department and other community partners are finding alternative, fun, and safe ways to celebrate the fall season! All of the events are free unless otherwise noted. Some events require registration in advance. All events will adhere to the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health guidance on COVID-19.
General Safety Guidelines:
- Wear a mask at all times when around people who don’t live in your household to reduce the risk of spreading the virus
- Avoid singing, chanting, or shouting, especially when not wearing a mask and within 6 feet of others
- Do not use a costume mask (such as for Halloween) as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face.
- Do not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
For more information on the recommendations for holiday safety from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, please visit their website.
Setting Proper Expectations
We also spoke to Natalie Kinsky, Gillette’s Child Life supervisor on our Child and Family Services team, and she emphasized that parents should do their best to set expectations and convey their plans for Halloween to their children before the day arrives.
“We’re all doing things differently and no one wants to disappoint their children. That’s always been the case, but those feelings are certainly amplified right now,” Kinsky says. “The most important thing is to be open and honest with your children about why you’re making the decisions that you’re making. They should know that this is a difficult time and that it won’t last forever, but how you frame the conversation can go a long way in determining how they feel. It’s also OK to acknowledge that all of this has been hard for you too, and to give yourself a break as a parent.
Overall, talk to your family members, talk to your neighbors, try to get creative with the day and make it your own in whatever way you can do so safely.”