Most of us grew up thinking that trick-or-treating is the gold standard in Halloween celebration, but because of COVID, the holiday is required to adapt this year. Some municipalities have strongly advised against trick-or-treating, and even where it hasn’t been fully kiboshed, comfort levels will also change the landscape. But good news: That doesn’t mean fun is cancelled. “Halloween means many things to many people,” says Carolyn McPherson, an Associate Vice President at Party City. “Trick-or-treating isn’t all Halloween is, even in a regular year.” So, with that, we’ve rounded up a handful of non-trick-or-treat activities you can plan for Halloween night instead.
A not-so-spooky movie night
If your brood isn’t into the scary side of Halloween, try a family-friendly Halloween flick. “Dress up and eat way too much candy, from the comfort of your own home,” says McPherson. We love It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown for the littlest ones, but Casper is a blast-from-the-past that pretty much all school-agers can get behind. If you’ve got older kids in the family, consider a double feature with a slightly spookier second movie once the littles go to bed.
Tip: Make your popcorn a little more festive with a trip to a bulk section or store. Get some coloured candy melts, some Halloween sprinkles and some pretzels. Spread the popcorn and pretzels out on a baking sheet, drizzle with melted candy (chocolate works, too) and finish with sprinkles. Let cool and dole out into bowls for serving.
A Halloween baking session
Get your kids into the kitchen to make a batch of festive treats. For a super easy, fun idea (with no stirring required), check out our donut eyeballs. But for a next-level option, bake up some chocolate cupcakes and frost with chocolate icing. Black licorice legs, chocolate shavings or sprinkles for the effect of hairiness plus candy eyeballs, and you’ve got a dozen delish spiders on your hands.
An at-home scavenger hunt
“It has become very clear over the past seven months that parents are looking for super-creative ways to stimulate their kids. Halloween provides that outlet,” says McPherson. A scavenger hunt throughout the house is a great way to do this, to give kids a Halloween hit without leaving home. Include the backyard if you want the feeling of outdoor trick-or-treating without the exposure to others.
A festive fashion show
If your gang needs the costume aspect of the holiday, invite friends over for an outdoor Halloween fashion show or parade instead. Ask each person who comes to bring a contribution to the candy haul (because you’ll know they’re safe) and divide up for each little ghoul or goblin to take home a bag of treats. Note: This is dependent on the instructions from the public health unit in your area. If your community has been told to stick only to your household, make this a “found things” costume contest within your immediate family at home instead.
A zombie makeover station
Instead of the finished costume being the main event, make the spooky transformation the headliner. Set up a station (the bathroom is an ideal place, to contain the mess) with face paint, fake scars and blood, hair chalk, etc. and set your kids free to zombify each other (and you!).
Go all-out outside
Just because you likely won’t get trick-or-treaters to your door doesn’t mean you can’t make a splash on décor. Make it a family activity to spookify your house. “Think tombstones, graveyards, cool lighting…,” says McPherson. For a more family-friendly, easy approach, McPherson says inflatables are an easy way to festive up your front yard. On Halloween night, leave a bowl of pre-packaged treats with a set of tongs away from your house, if your municipality is allowing it.