My youngest son was born on October 31st, and my middle son on November 7th. Halloween is a big holiday in our house: not as big as Christmas, but just as anticipated. Halloween means candy and birthdays all wrapped into one. It’s costumes and pumpkins and trick-or-treating. My kids look forward to it all year.
But they’ve already realized a pandemic Halloween won’t look like Halloweens past (the CDC considers trick-or-treating a “high risk” activity). They’ve already cried about it. They know they can’t trick-or-treat; they can’t go to Boo at the Zoo. And those things alone have devastated them.
But my husband and I are determined to make their pandemic Halloween as awesome as possible with what we have.
Here’s what we’re doing.
Decorate, Decorate, Decorate
The pandemic hasn’t given us much to look forward to, and Halloween’s a milestone we can all be excited about: kids and adults alike. To make the most of our pandemic Halloween, we’re pulling out all the stops on decorations. I’ll drape the house in fake spiderwebs. I’ll haul out all the yard decorations. I’ll stick pumpkins in every freaking corner, inside and out. We’ll carve them at least twice: once in the beginning of October, and once near the end. The more Halloween-y it looks, the more my kids will understand that yes, the holiday is coming; no, it’s hasn’t been canceled like so much else.
Pandemic Halloween Doesn’t Mean No Costumes
I will dress my kids as whatever they want. If I have to make the damn costumes, I’ll do it. But this Halloween, they’ll wear whatever they want, and they’ll wear it as often as they want: none of the usual “wait until Halloween” admonishments. They need to remember the holiday, and so they get to wear those costumes out.
If my almost-seven-year-old wants to dress as freaking Sonic the Hedgehog, I will sew him a Sonic costume and let him be a hedgehog every day from October 1st to the Big Day.
I’ll make sure I have a costume for myself this pandemic Halloween. It’s more important now than ever. And not, like, a witch hat either.
My husband and I will go totally over-the-top. I will wear rainbow everything and be a unicorn. There will be glitter, and it will be gold.
Craft It Up Before Pandemic Halloween
I am planning Halloween crafts like a Pinterest mom. We will cut out pumpkins and color them. We will cut out pumpkins and use potato stamps to stamp triangles onto them. We will craft ghosts out of tissue paper. We will construct pipe-cleaner spiders. We will do all the crafts for pandemic Halloween, and we will sprinkle them all over the house, because the kids need to know: the holiday is still happening, and whatever shape it takes is going to be awesome.
If I were more organized and awesome, we’d stick them on our Halloween tree. I’m not brave enough to ask my husband to drag down the Christmas tree, but if I were, we’d clothespin all those crafts on the fake pine, orange-and-black decorated monstrosity dominating my living room.
Spooky Themed Meals
I might whip up Disney’s pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. Dinner might be spaghetti and “eyeballs.” Or it might be meatloaf haphazardly shaped into a mummy. We have to eat, so we may as well do it around a fun Halloween theme.
Pandemic Halloween Movie Night
Like Katie Cunningham suggests, there will be a super-special Halloween movie night with special Halloween popcorn and candy. We’ll watch things like Hocus Pocus, Charlie Brown’s Halloween special, and scary-enough movies for my littles (7, 9, and 10): Monster Squad and maybe even Goonies. Pirates are sort of Halloween-y, right? And Labyrinth has lots of monsters and David Bowie in costume, so why not? (Any excuse to show David Bowie).
Pandemic Halloween Baskets
Warning: our kids will now expect these damn things every Halloween. Another tip from Katie Cunningham is that, much like the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus, “The Great Pumpkin” can show up and leave candy and trinket-filled pumpkin buckets for the kids on Halloween morning. They’ll be wired off candy first thing in the morning, but whatever. We’ll go light on the red food dye.
My kids will have a Halloween this year. Yes, there’s a global pandemic going on, and this Halloween will be different from others, but it’ll still be Halloween— even if it’s a weird pandemic Halloween. My kids love the holiday too much to miss it, and they’ve sacrificed so much these past few months. I’m determined to give them this, even if it looks a little bit different than usual.