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How to Celebrate Halloween This Year

How to Celebrate Halloween This Year

It’s time for skeletons, witches, and jack-o’-lanterns, but what halloween activities are safe this year?

Halloween is quickly approaching, and it’s a dose of fun every family is in dire need of right now. But considering the pandemic, are traditional Halloween activities off the table? Is trick-or-treating allowed? Can you show off this year’s homemade costume at a spooky soirée? Is Halloween a holiday? No matter what your celebrations look like—and whether they're in person or not—here's what to do on Halloween 2020.

Trick-or-Treating: Halloween Safety Tips

Governor Andrew Cuomo said he won’t formally ban trick-or-treating this Halloween, but he doesn’t necessarily encourage parents to take their kids door-to-door either. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classified traditional trick-or-treating (where treats are handed to children going door-to-door) as a high-risk activity and instead recommends the following alternatives:

  • Individually wrap goodie bags and line them up at the end of your yard or driveway for neighbors to come collect in their costumes.
  • Create a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search in your home or backyard for family and friends.

You can determine the risk-level of trick-or-treating in your area with Hershey’s new Halloween website, It tracks the risk levels (red, orange, yellow, and green) of trick-or-treating throughout the country. Most of New York is yellow, though there are areas of red, orange, and green. Based on the color of your area, the site lists suggestions of activities that are considered safe.

If your family ultimately chooses to go door-to-door, everyone should wear a face mask covering the nose and mouth and regularly sanitize, especially if chowing down on some treats during the trip. Remember: Not every family will feel comfortable handing out treats this year, so be patient and understanding—and try not to ring the doorbell more than once! You should also be sure to follow these tried-and-true Halloween safety tips from the NYPD and Aimée Kahn, M.D., MPH. 

Is My Halloween Mask a CDC Face Covering?

A costume mask for Halloween cannot be substituted for a cloth face mask, according to the CDC, unless it’s made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that cover your mouth and nose and don’t leave any gaps around your face. Also, you and your little ones should not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask because it can make it difficult to breathe. Instead, consider buying a fun Halloween-themed cloth mask or one that goes with your costume.

Halloween Activities in Your Area

There are still plenty of fun Halloween events and activities in the New York area for you and your family to attend. Some are in-person with extra safety precautions and regulations and some are virtual!

How to Have a Safe Costume Party

As we know, outdoor activities are lower risk than indoor ones. Since Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, consider hosting an afternoon gathering with just a few guests in your backyard, as long as everyone follows social distancing and face mask guidelines. 

If staying home is more your jam right now, throw a costume party (and contest) over Zoom. You can even use spooky Zoom backgrounds to make it feel like a real graveyard smash. 

Unfortunately, many Halloween parades and organized events (like NYC’s Greenwich Village Halloween Parade), have been canceled. However, you can safely create your own smaller parade outside, socially distanced, and with everyone in a mask (and of course, a costume!). Walk down the street where you normally trick-or-treat and have a costume contest at the end.  

How to Celebrate Halloween With Your Child With Special Needs

Despite the BOO!-filled nature of Halloween, your child with an anxiety disorder, sensory issues, or other special needs can find a way to partake in the holiday. Here are some helpful tips from the experts. 

How to Find the Spookiest Decorations in NYC

Brooklyn Mamas and Papas is compiling a Google Map called Spooky Brooklyn 2020 of the coolest and spookiest decorations in Brooklyn. Use their map and see how many you can see before the 31st! If you spot one they're missing, you can submit using this Google Form

The Best Halloween Treats

What's Halloween without treats? These Halloween-themed lunch, dinner, cookie, cakes, and snack recipes are essentials for this year's celebrations. (Did someone say spooky grilled cheese?!)

Pumpkin Carving

Making jack-o’-lanterns is a timeless Halloween activity that can easily be done outside. Everyone can bring their own pumpkins, tools, and hand sanitizer—and sit 6 feet apart. You can either carve up a spooky jack-o'-lantern the old fashioned way, or decorate one with stickers, paint, googly eyes, and even hair! May the best pumpkin win! 

Once your child has decorated their pumpkin, enter a photo in the Pumpkin Carving & Design Contest sponsored by Palisades Center!

If your family would rather eat the pumpkin than use it as decor, check out these pumpkin-inspired recipes for the whole family! 

Halloween Books 

There are a ton of Halloween books (spooky and non-spooky) that we love for all ages. Cozy up by your newly created jack-o'-lantern and crack open one of these classic Halloween stories. 

(Not-So) Scary Halloween Movie Nights

Many drive-in movie theaters are throwing Halloween movie nights throughout October. Pick a night to go with friends (in separate cars, of course) and enjoy a spooky (or not-so-spooky) Halloween flick. Bonus points if you bring candy corn instead of popcorn! Alternatively, you can have a Halloween movie marathon at home (or give Netflix Party a try for an at-home movie night with friends).

Haunted Houses

Spooky venues throughout the New York area are doing their very best to keep you and your family safe (and spooked) through the Halloween season. If you’re all about being scared, pay a visit to one of the many haunted houses or spooky corn mazes in the New York area. If you’d rather something not-so-spooky, consider the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, which is being hosted in Westchester County and on Long Island this year.

RELATED: Halloween Costume, Decoration, and Accessory Stores in the NYC Area






Here at NYMetroParents, we've got everything you need to have a safefun, and festive fall and Halloween season.  Whether it is pumpkin or apple picking, getting lost in a corn maze, making Halloween crafts or finding costumes and decorations, we're here to help. 

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Melissa Wickes

Author: Melissa Wickes is a graduate of Binghamton University and the NYU Summer Publishing Institute. She's written hundreds of articles to help New York parents make better decisions for their families. When she's not writing, you can find her eating pasta, playing guitar, or watching reality TV. See More

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