Ten months into 2020, and COVID-19 has cancelled many events – large and small – for most of the year.

Friends and family celebrate drive-by birthdays and graduations over Zoom. And now that Halloween is approaching, children wonder if they will be able to go around their neighborhood to show off their Batman and Superwoman costumes – and get as much candy as they can.

Thankfully, Halloween is not totally cancelled.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put out guidelines for safe celebrating, so you can still put out your pumpkins. The CDC recommends that you keep numbers to a minimum or restrict guests to those who live in your household for low-risk Halloween activities like outside pumpkin carving or an outdoor family barbeque. Or you can go online for a virtual costume contest.

Although some fall activities are high-risk and should be avoided this year, there are ways to stay entertained. Just make sure you all wear masks -- and not the kind included with your costume -- if you choose to go trick-or-treating.

Tips and (Halloween) Tricks

Looking for ways to make trick-or-treating safer? Wash your hands before and after handling candy or goodie bags. If you’re handing out candy, leave it outside in a bowl where trick-or-treaters can help themselves, eliminating contact risk. And while you can’t have a big decorating party, you can display pumpkins and hang up ghosts and spider webs.

Still have your heart set on a party or gathering? If you decide to hold one at your home, there are important things to take into consideration, says the CDC.

It is essential to tell your guests that, as much as you would like to see them, they must stay home if they are sick or were exposed to the coronavirus in the past 14 days.

Hold the gathering outdoors, if possible. If you must be indoors, keep the numbers low, and open doors or windows for better ventilation. Ask your guests to maintain a 6-foot distance and to wear masks. Provide a place with soap and water, or hand sanitizer, so guests can wash their hands when they arrive and before and after eating – and any time in between. Encourage families to bring their own food and drinks, to limit sharing. If you are providing food, wash your hands before and after preparing. Individually prepared snacks or meals can avoid the risk of spreading germs.

Jessica F., an Abington, Pa., mom, told Medical Daily how the pandemic has disrupted her family’s typical, fall holiday activities.

“In the pre-pandemic world, my family [usually] goes on hayrides, pumpkin picking, going to fall festivals, decorate, and corn mazes,” Jessica said. She has two children, who are 14 and 12. Since the pandemic started, her family has only been seeing other family members and going out minimally, while wearing masks. Jessica described how she has engaged her family in fall festivities this year, while still being cautious of the pandemic.

“We decorated the house as always and bought pumpkins. I rented a private hayride for our ‘circle.’ We bake. We definitely miss the larger festivals and hayrides,” she said.

When asked about trick-or-treating, she said her kids are older and are careful about COVID-19. She doesn’t think they will participate. She does think about her kids’ mental health and said trick-or-treating is safer than a Halloween party.

Jessica said her township has recommended that people stay home and avoid indoor parties but has not mandated any specific rules. She hopes to still pass out candy from a distance.

“If we are home, we will leave candy out and maybe yell ‘Happy Halloween’ from the window or driveway, and tell them to take one.”

The Take Home

The most important takeaway is to follow precautions, no matter how you celebrate. And above all, if you or anyone else in your family has been exposed to the coronavirus, it is essential that you stay home during fall festivities.

Sammy Lucero is a nursing co-op student at Drexel University. Outside of school and work, you can find her cheering on the Green Bay Packers.