Spooky, Not Scary: Staying Safe this Halloween

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Two Jack-o-lanterns set over a wood grain background. One is wearing a medical face mask. The text reads - Spooky, Not Scary: Treats & Treats to Stay Safe This Halloween - www.abilitytools.org/blog

COVID-19 restrictions have made maintaining our social lives a challenging effort over the course of the past half year, but with one of the first social holidays of autumn approaching, many are wondering how it can be enjoyed while staying safe. Where It’s AT is here to help, with a few tricks and treats of our own.

In-Person Celebrating

If giving out candy or taking little ones to trick-or-treat, please remember that a costume mask is not the same as a medical face mask; costume masks do not provide any protection against COVID-19. To make your little ghouls excited to wear their face mask, you can try decorating their mask to match their costume, using fabric markers, iron on patterns (Etsy has great creators) or premade masks to match any theme, whether it be: sugar skulls, vampires or clowns.

If you are still feeling concerned about the bag of candy that your little one has worked so hard to collect, think ahead and buy an assortment of big bars of their favorite candy, so that their collected candy bag can have time to quarantine to your degree of comfort, while they have an exciting treat to tide them over.

On that note, please only hand out candy if you and everyone in your household is feeling well. If you decide to hand out goodies, be sure to wash hands properly and frequently, while also sanitizing regularly. There are a variety of ways for you to hand out treats in a socially distant fashion. NPR is reporting that people have even gone so far as to create candy chutes out of PVC pipes in order to keep themselves and their visitors safe. You could also set up a table on your lawn with little piles of candy or disposable paper cups of treats, or hang baggies along bushes, fences or trees for little ones to take as they pass your home.

If you feel more comfortable keeping the festivities to your household, you can decorate the inside of your home like a haunted house and have household members trick-or-treat from room to room in the fun ambiance. You can also organize a candy hunt at night using flashlights and plastic eggs filled with candy. To accommodate households with participants who have a range of ability to hunt for well-hidden eggs, add glow sticks or glow bracelets to some eggs to help them stand out.

Coordinate with your neighbors through social media groups or neighborhood apps like Nextdoor and Patch to organize a drive-by reverse trick-or-treat where you can drive by all of the costumed kids on their lawns and gently toss candy to them while honking and cheering-on their awesome costumes. You could also coordinate a decoration theme for your neighborhood and/or organize a drive-by Halloween experience for others, kind of in the fashion of neighborhoods who decorate over the top with Christmas lights. You can even coordinate music with any light decorations or play a spooky ambiance to fit your neighborhood’s Halloween theme by using an FM audio transmitter, simply put a sign in your yard to let your viewers know which station to tune into.

Setting up a projector to play a movie against the side of your house or garage door creates a great opportunity to have a mini, socially distanced “drive-in” movie theater experience. People can bring snacks and blankets and stay socially distant, together, for the holiday. This is a particularly good option if you live in a cul-de-sac, as you can include the neighborhood in on the fun. If there are small kids that you worry about keeping socially distant for such a long event, it can truly be arranged like a drive-in, with people parking and watching and simply playing the audio to the movie over an FM transmitter, like the one described in the above paragraph. Remember to keep it family-friendly if it will be being broadcast against the front of your house though, as you never know whose eyes may be watching.

Have a Halloween make-up tutorial party. Figure out which tutorial you wish to try (beware, some videos are on the gory side of special effects, so search without any kiddos nearby) and buy supplies to follow along to YouTube makeup tutorials from inspiring special effects artists like Madeyewlook who has made herself into an old school tattoo, storybook Alice in Wonderland, and a Beetlejuice inspired look. dope2111 has done Elsa, Corpse Bride, and Edward Scissor Hands. While Kandee Johnson has done Betty Boop, Ash from Pokémon, and a Barbie Doll.

Virtual Celebrating

You can schedule a Zoom Halloween party. People can dress up, the participants can mail treats to each other like secret Santa, and everyone can nosh and hang out. Hold contests for participants like costume contests, pumpkin carving/painting contests and scavenger hunts. Play Pictionary with Zoom’s whiteboard feature with spooky Halloween themed topics or simply hang out and enjoy each other’s company with a Halloween themed virtual background.

Set up a virtual Halloween/Scary movie marathon on Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party). By using the Teleparty extension on a chrome browser on your desktop or laptop, you have the ability to watch programing in sync with other Netflix, Disney, Hulu and HBO subscribers. There is a chat feature so everyone can comment about the streamed program to one another.

While you’re on your streaming device, why not experience an interactive movie with your friends and family? You can watch Netflix’s Bandersnatch for a spooky feel while being able to choose your own destiny along with your loved ones. Choose the same options to experience it together, or make independent decisions for each household to see who gets a more favorable outcome.

If you are feeling a little trapped in your house and don’t mind being a bit meta, try out a virtual escape room! Companies like The Escape Game – Remote Adventures, Virtual Escape Experiences by Puzzle Break, and Mystery Escape Room Online provide all the fun and intrigue of an escape room while allowing people to participate virtually with their loved ones over video conferencing software. The fees range from per person rates to single event rates.

Host your own murder mystery dinner party. Simply choose your game: some free options include The Business of Murder from John H. Kim at Darkshire.net, Way Out West from Free Form Games or The Little Engine That Could Kill from Free Murder Mystery Games, and some paid kits include games from Dinner and a Murder, My Mystery Party, or Murder at Mardi Gras from University Games. All you need to do is mail out everyones character materials to each of your participants and people can dress up in costumes to match their characters, have food and drink appropriate to the theme of the mystery, and you can all figure out who dunnit together over a videoconferencing call.

Playing video games online is a great option to spend time with loved ones and friends, but if board games are more your speed and you are missing your weekly game night, Tabletop Simulator allows you to play online with friends or on the same computer, “hotseat” style. It comes loaded with classic games like chess, mahjong, backgammon, poker and many others. You can also download more modern games, such as Wingspan, Scythe, and Zombiecide. Additionally, if you own a VR headset, you can play virtually-in-person with your friends!

The Bottom Line

You should feel comfortable celebrating holidays in ways that make sense for the needs and safety boundaries unique to your household. Hopefully these suggestions have assisted in coming up with ways for your home to stay safe and happy this holiday season. Have a Spooky Halloween!