If you’re a parent of young kids, waiting on tenterhooks to find out whether or not trick-or-treating will be cancelled this year is likely one of approximately two hundred billion stressors running through your mind right now. As most provinces are waiting to see what COVID-19 caseloads look like closer to Oct. 31 before making a decision one way or the other, many parents are starting to think of alternatives, in case trick-or-treating is deemed too risky.
The good news is that even if it does end up getting cancelled, there are a lot of fun and easy ways to celebrate Halloween at home. Here are a few of the best options.
Have a Halloween candy hunt
If you treat Halloween like Easter and hide candy throughout your home, your kid gets both a fun activity that will keep them occupied (hunting!) and the best part of trick-or-treating (the candy haul).
Plus, added bonus: you can buy just the good candy, and leave out the Rockets your kid will never actually eat. And, if you’re so inclined, pick up the treats you and your kid both like.
Turn your space into a haunted house
If you have the space to decorate, making your living room a haunted house is a great way to make the day different and special. Leading up to Halloween, stores are full of stuff like fake cobwebs, pumpkins, spiders and ghosts. Add one of those Halloween sounds playlists, which you can of course find for free online these days, and voila!
Watch spooky movies
There are a ton of Halloween movies for kids of all ages and scaredy-cat levels. There’s something special about seeing a movie you only get to watch at one point in the year. “Hocus Pocus,” “ParaNoman,” “Frankenweenie,” “Casper,” and “The Addams Family” are all good options — plus, there are a lot of new Halloween movies coming out this month on Netflix.
Tell scary stories
If screen time isn’t your thing, turn out the lights and light some candles or get a flashlight and tell scary stories. Here are a few different options, some for younger kids and others for kids who can handle a scare.
Halloween-ify your meal
The possibilities for Halloween-themed foods are endless. Maybe a breakfast of cinnamon buns that look like bloody guts? A healthy snack that looks like rotten, maggot-y apples? For dinner, a skeleton-shaped veggie platter and some spooky pizzas, or squid ink pasta with pumpkin? Witch finger cookies, with almond nails and a little jam or edible decorating gel for blood are great for dessert.
There’s the classic thing of telling a blindfolded child that the peeled grapes they’re touching are actually eyeballs, of course. But there are a ton more options, for kids of all ages: playing checkers with mini pumpkins, maybe, or spooky charades, or “pin the web on the spider” (which can be adapted to “pin the stem on the pumpkin” for the spider-averse).
Make a piñata
Another fun alternative candy distribution method: the piñata. You can make your own if you’re looking for a pre-Halloween craft, or pick one up at a party store. A pumpkin is a classic and easy-to-make shape — or, if you want a slight challenge, a ghost.
Have a pumpkin scavenger hunt
Walk around your neighbourhood looking for different kinds of jack-o’-lanterns. You can download and print scavenger hunt cards on Pinterest, or make your own.
Look into drive-throughs
Lots of areas are hosting Halloween-themed drive throughs of various types. There’s a trick-or-treating drive-through in Vancouver, for instance, and a drive-through light festival in Toronto. Doing a Google search for “Halloween drive-through for kids” and your area will let you know what’s going on where you live.
Don’t forget about dressing up and carving pumpkins
Remember that in typical years, trick-or-treating only lasts and hour or two. A lot of the fun of Halloween comes from what happens before kids even leave the house.