Halloween is one of America’s favorite holidays, but it will likely look a bit different this year due to the COVID-19 situation. According to the CDC website, activities like traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, trunk-or-treating, parties, and even hayrides are high-risk. So how can you celebrate safely? By being open to adaptation and willing to think creatively, you and your family can have a safe and fun Halloween. Here’s how:

Celebrate with Smaller Groups

Hayrides are only high risk if you are packed in with a bunch of people from outside of your household. This goes for many other Halloween activities as well. Consider attending hayrides, corn mazes, and other events with only the people you live with and maintaining at least a six feet distance from others. Mask wearing and good hand washing can also help make these events safer for everyone but are not substitutes for social distance.

You can adapt your party plans by holding the party outside and maintaining social distance or having a zoom party with friends. Indoor gatherings are always riskier, but by inviting a few people instead of many, opening windows, and maintaining social distance, you can mitigate some of the risks. The CDC recommends that decisions about indoor events should be made with community spread in mind. If you live in a town where community spread is low, then indoor events are less risky than in places with more cases.

The bottom line is that you can party and attend fall activities this year, just not with a huge crowd. That’s not all bad. Sometimes smaller parties can be less overwhelming and more fun. You get to spend more time with each guest and less time on prep and clean up. Outdoor events and parties are also a great way to enjoy the fall weather and feel like you are getting “out”– something we all need right now.

Trick or Treat Creatively

Humans are infinitely adaptable, and the internet is already full of ideas about safe trick-or-treating options for Halloween this year.  Andrew Beattie, a Cincinnati Dad, earned internet fame for his ingenious candy shoot. He made it out of a cardboard tube leftover from Amazon packaging. He said it took about 20 minutes to put together. Now Beattie has a cute and practical way to give out candy from a safe distance by sliding it down the shoot from the top of the stairs to the ghoul or goblin below. It sounds like something that just about any homeowner could do.

Another fun idea is an outdoor scavenger hunt for candy. This will work best if a few neighbors offer their front yards so that kids can spread out. First, decorate the yard with Halloween decor (gravestones and blow-up characters work great), then put individually wrapped candy in bags or inside plastic eggs and hide them around the yard. You can get Halloween themed glow-in-the-dark eggs or put glow sticks in with the candy to help kids find things after dark. Have small groups of children (with their parents) form a socially distanced line and send one child (or family of kids) in at a time to hunt around. Set a time limit and blow a whistle or set off a timer when it ends. Kids will have fun running around the yard, collecting as much as they can before time’s up. Keep in mind that the social distance between families is the key to keeping this activity safe.

Embrace the Outdoors

A light jacket is all that’s needed in many places during October, so set up outdoors and enjoy the sights and scents of fall. There are tons of fun and safe outdoor activities you can do at any time during the month to get in the Halloween spirit. Take the people you live with and go to a pumpkin patch or apple orchard. As long as you remain socially distant, you can enjoy the fall harvest safely.

Hosting a socially distanced pumpkin carving party in your yard is another fun way to get together with a few friends and celebrate the season safely. If Halloween tends to be cold or stormy where you live, you could consider celebrating early so you can hold events outside.

You may have noticed your neighbors going all out with their outdoor decorating this year. Co-opt the Christmas tradition of driving by decorated yards and take a drive-through tour of Halloween decor.

As an alternative to a block party, your neighborhood could host a drive-by parade with decorated cars and people tossing candy. Or consider a socially distanced costume parade with dressed up families walking by at a safe distance from each other and other neighbors applauding from their porches.

Get Comfortable with Low-Key

The holiday season is usually a busy time for people. Parties to throw, meals to prepare, people to visit, shopping to get done, whew! It’s fun, but it can also be stressful. This year might be a good opportunity to commit to a lower stress version of the holidays. Many people have noticed that spending more time at home with their immediate family has been a bright side of the pandemic.

Think about the things you usually wish you could spend more time on during this season. Do you want to do more crafts with your kids or take a pumpkin spice scented bubble bath? Make this the year you do it. Do you usually spend more money than you should this time of year? Make this the year you cut back.

Sometimes we have to be forced to try new things, but they become new favorites once we do. Sit down with your family and watch some Halloween movies you’ve never seen before. Make a fancy Halloween treat or try a Zoom based costume contest with out-of-state family. You never know what you might want to make a tradition.