4 Brilliant Little Pandemic Halloween Ideas We’re Keeping Around

updated Oct 7, 2021
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Last October, our family was feeling the pain of missing many of our typical autumn activities, and we were all extra sad to think about how different Halloween would look. But thanks to a little creativity from friends and neighbors, we ended up celebrating in new ways that were (dare I say?) almost more fun. We asked the kids for ideas and let their imaginations take over. We implemented almost every brainstorm they had, from pranks to pumpkins.

And when the conversation turned to Halloween this summer (since it’s never too early to start planning) we realized that the memories from last year were so unforgettable, we wanted to recreate them again. Since we’re not out of the woods yet in regards to COVID, these ideas also lend themselves to a season of fun that allows for safe distancing. 

Fill a piñata with candy and let loose!

For kids, Halloween means candy — lots of candy. So when trick-or-treating went out the door, there was a lot of concern over how the candy would be passed out. Sure, we could have just purchased a bag at the store and sat around eating it as a family, but where’s the fun in that?

We were all in the mood to smash something by that point, so decided that a piñata would be the perfect vessel for the much-desired sugar fix. If you haven’t made one in a few decades, it turns out that the satisfaction of squeezing excess paste off of newspaper strips actually never gets old. We took a vote and opted to create a replica of our fiercest enemy. Even the adults got a few hits in before the germ exploded and rained down treats.

No worries if you aren’t in the mood to take on a messy, somewhat labor-intensive craft. Premade piñatas are easy to find both in-store and online, and work just as well. 

Create a walk-by pumpkin display on your block

We’re fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood of mixed ages, and Halloween is a holiday everyone enjoys. Since we couldn’t socialize the same way as the kids ran from door to door, we instead opted for a pumpkin stroll. We distributed flyers inviting neighbors to display a pumpkin or two on their porch. The gourds could be carved, painted, decorated, or just put out with some flickering candles in the days leading up to the 31st.

We relished evening walks to scope out new additions around the block, and were endlessly entertained by the few that were changed into different costumes every day. 

This was such a simple yet joyful way to involve everyone in the season, and encourage a much-needed sense of community. You could even host a contest and send out a survey voting for best pumpkins in each category: spookiest, most creative, funniest! If you have a Facebook neighborhood group, this can all be virtual, making it extremely easy to coordinate.

Host a family campfire + s’mores night

It’s truly a gift to have friends who share their hospitality, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Some extra-kind ones we know thoughtfully organized a socially distanced Halloween-themed gathering in their backyard. Each family was invited to wear costumes and bring chairs, blankets, and s’mores supplies.

They arranged several fire pits, so that everyone could roast marshmallows while chatting with others. We played yard games, like cornhole and giant Jenga, which allowed for six foot spacing. The evening wrapped up with an outdoor screening of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” as we munched popcorn in our small groups.

Prank ‘em with a feel-good Ding-Dong-Witch

We brought back this old prank with a new twist. The kids had a blast creating baskets of Halloween goodies with inexpensive supplies like stickers, glow sticks, lollipops, and pencils. After mapping out which houses to hit, they’d go up to a friend’s porch, drop the basket, ring the doorbell, and run away. Cue peals of laughter from all as they dove into bushes or behind trees in order to prevent being caught. 

A final note about new traditions

Over the past 18 months, our family has truly developed an appreciation for each and every type of celebration, no matter how small. We were so accustomed to the normally hectic bustle of Halloween prep that, looking back, the chance to slow down in 2020 was a gift. We relished the little wins, like digging through old boxes of costumes to invent new ones and baking tons of pumpkin desserts. 

And while this Halloween looks like it may be a bit more normal, we are forever altered and don’t plan to forget our new attitude (and our new traditions) anytime soon.