Bags of candy corn

With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s important to remember that we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic. And we have to act like it, says Pam Hoogerwerf, program manager for Pediatric Injury Prevention and Community Outreach at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

"There’s not one person who’s not tired of dealing with COVID-19, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” she says. “To get there, we all have to do our part. We have to think of ways to have fun but to be safe at the same time.”

To help us get there, Hoogerwerf provided some helpful tips on how you—and your kiddos—can safely have fun this Halloween.

Planning on trick-or-treating with your children this year? Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

Try incorporating face coverings into your child’s costume

While costumes are a source of major excitement for many children, it’s important to remember that a costume mask is not sufficient protection. Children over the age of 2 should wear a face mask.

Don't neglect hand hygiene

Make sure your child washes their hands before and after trick-or-treating. If possible, don’t let them eat their candy until they’ve thoroughly washed their hands.

Ensure you and your family are social distancing

Even if you’re outside, it’s still important to abide by social distancing. Try waiting in driveways while other families select their candy to avoid clustering around the doorway.

Will you be handing out candy? Here’s what you should know:

In order to properly socially distance, it’s recommended that you not directly hand candy to trick-or-treaters. Here are some other ideas:

  • Try “One-way” trick or treating. Have treats or individual goodie bags set outside at least six feet away from where you are.  Trick-or-treaters will come up and take a treat while you interact with them from a safe distance.
  • If you want to hand out treats personally, make sure that you’re wearing a face mask and using hand sanitizer often.
  • Don’t open your door unless all the people at the door are wearing masks. Politely ask children to come up one at a time, keeping distance between them.
  • Don’t let the kids touch or grab the treats and avoid touching the child’s bag/basket.  You should pick up the treat and drop it into a child’s bag or basket.
  • Consider moving the interaction away from your door to an outdoor porch, patio, or driveway.

Don’t feel comfortable trick-or-treating this year? We’ve got you covered.

Here are some alternative ideas on how you can still celebrate this Halloween:

Have an egg hunt with Halloween candy

Hide candy around your house or yard and have your children search for it. Take this activity up a notch by making it a scavenger hunt with clues to the loot (candy)!

Have a socially-distanced neighborhood parade

Give your kids a chance to show off their costumes with a socially-distanced parade in your neighborhood. This gives kids a chance to join in on the fun and display their spooky or cute costumes without the higher risks of traveling house to house.

Celebrate through cinema

Watch some spooky Halloween movies on your favorite streaming service.

FaceTime or Zoom with neighbors, friends, and family

Kids can show off their costumes with those who matter most without taking on additional risks.

Epi Explains: Celebrating Halloween safely

Watch pediatric infectious disease specialist Melanie Wellington, MD, PhD, discuss this year's Halloween safety recommendations: