Ghosts, skulls, and zombies had nothing on how scary the Coronavirus was during Halloween last year. The unknowns of the virus made day-to-day more terrifying than any haunted house. Combined with the weeks and months of isolation and lockdown were also driving kids – and us parents – a little nutty.
By last fall, life opened up a little more and communities around the country eager to have some kind of “normal” asked: to trick or treat, or not? Since moving to Orange County, we would visit a few houses but we mostly spent our yearly Halloween at a free church carnival…which canceled festivities because of COVID-19. The California Department of Health released guidance strongly discouraging traditional trick or treating.
That sparked an idea for our block which was full of trick-or-treating-aged kids, with whom we had created our own little “bubble” for seven months at that point. I proposed: let’s create our own little safe Halloween carnival for the neighborhood!
I asked the neighbors with kids and they immediately agreed. Even neighbors with grown kids and no kids asked to participate. The idea: we could still adhere to masks and social distancing by having “games” on our driveways. Win or lose, the kids would still get their treats.
Whether you’re going house-to-house or doing more reserved fun this year, these ideas aren’t just for global pandemics.
Here’s what we came up with for our little neighborhood’s fun and COVID safe Halloween carnival:
Outdoor Pumpkin Carving
A couple weeks before, we set up folding tables near one neighbor’s house, everyone brought the art supplies and carving instruments they had, and the kids decorated pumpkins together.
Halloween Car Parade
A couple families had big-kid big wheels. Our street is a cul de sac with a circle in the middle. The kids, dressed in costumes, raced around the circle and back. Even the adults, dressed in costumes, had a blast with this one.
Remote Control Car Race
We had a couple remote cars. In chalk, we drew a driving course on the driveway and set up little obstacles for kids to drive around and race each other.
A grandparent couple borrowed our son’s Nerf guns and plastic, stackable “cans.” Kids stood on the “x,” and tried to knock down the cans with the Nerf foam bullets.
The family of a middle-schooler and high-schooler set up a pyramid of plastic cups. Kids had three chances to throw foam balls to knock down the cups.
Another neighbor set up his cornhole game.
Photo Opp (With Alien Inflatables)
One neighbor created an alien-space theme and had large inflatables for photo opps. Or you can use whatever the best blow ups or Halloween decorations your neighbors have as a photo opp backdrop.
Decorated SUV Trunk Or Treat
Another neighbor decorated the trunk of their SUV and created individual grab bags with goodies.
Outdoor Dance Party
New neighbors who had just moved in included a soon-to-be first-time dad who is a DJ. He brought out his party lighting and played music for spontaneous dance-offs.
Outdoor Kid-Friendly Movie
As the sun went down, the neighbor with the cornhole game also projected a movie on his garage door. We brought over chairs and blankets to watch together, while the kids dug into their candy hauls.
Other ideas for a fun and COVID safe Halloween carnival that you could also add:
- Space out laundry baskets, a central place to throw, and try to toss tennis balls into them.
- Have a stack of paper and have each kid create an airplane. Launch them from a set spot and mark where each lands.
- Set up a ladder and a spot to throw from, and challenge kids to toss a frisbee through the spaces in between the steps.
NOTE: We had plenty of hand sanitizer and sanitizer wipes to clean the toys between each use.
The COVID safe Halloween carnival fun continues!
The next day, the kids all got together again to do their candy trades. Fortunately the weather was great, and they rode bikes and ran around to work off the sugar high!
For more great ideas on how to safely celebrate Halloween this year, check out our Fall Guide here.
It’s amazing how these simple items we already have came together to create a fun respite and kid-friendly COVID safe Halloween carnival. Heck, even the adults joined in! We know we’re lucky to have such a tight-knit community in our neighborhood and that made Halloween a ghoulishly good time for all.