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Under normal circumstances, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. But somehow, Halloween in 2020 feels a little like the opening day for a long season of indoor dreariness and holiday celebrations that just won’t be all that celebratory.

It doesn’t have to be like this, though. Right? In fact, I refuse to accept a year without Halloween. Okay, yes, there are a lot of things we can’t do, like crowded costume parties and bustling trick-or-treating routes. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still make it a fun and treat-filled event for everyone. Here are some ideas.

Halloween hunt. Think an Easter egg hunt, but with fewer bunnies and more skeletons. Hide candy indoors or out and let the kids loose to fill up their bags. (Here’s a clever variant: fill those plastic eggs from the Dollar Store with glow sticks and candy and do a glow-in-the-dark egg hunt.)

Mask up. The CDC reminds us that we still have to wear a protective mask, so why not make the mask part of the schtick? Here are some ideas for masks that are both protective and fun.

Spooky neighborhood scavenger walk. Make a fall-and-Halloween-themed list of things to look for around your neighborhood (skeletons, black cats, fallen leaves, etc.). Join the kids on a costumed walk around the block to admire Halloween decorations from afar and search for everything on their list. (And yes, this year, costumes for adults are a must. Everyone needs to get in on the action!)

Contactless candy delivery. This dad used an Amazon tube to create a candy chute so he can send treats down to buckets waiting below. (He notes that this is also a great solution for trick-or-treaters with mobility challenges.)

Creepy movie marathon. Staying in and watching scary movies might just be the best way to celebrate Halloween this year (or any year!). Check out Common Sense Media’s list of scary-but-not-too-scary favorites for the whole family. (Search by age to find the right fit for your family.)

Learn something new. Outschool has some scream-themed October classes for around $10, where the kids can learn everything from how to apply scary stage makeup to how to solve a murder mystery. Familiar with Halloween but not with Día de los Muertos? Learn about this Mexican tradition together, and enjoy this read-aloud for younger learners.

Games for everyone. Here are some Halloween takes on classic games like guess-the-number-in-the-jar, concentration, and pin-the-tail. They work as well at home as in the classroom, and they’re inclusive for English language learners, too.

Virtual UNICEF collections. Those classic orange UNICEF boxes don’t have to disappear entirely this Halloween. Kids can register to get a digital orange box and participate in fun activities that earn them “coins” that add up to real donations.

Whatever you have in mind, the basic COVID-19 rules apply: Wear a mask, wash your hands, avoid crowds, and keep it as much outdoors as possible. And for more help planning, the CDC has a helpful guide for understanding low, moderate, and high risk activities for both Halloween and Día de los Muertos.

“Whatever you have in mind, the basic COVID-19 rules apply: Wear a mask, wash your hands, avoid crowds, and keep it as much outdoors as possible.”

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