We probably wouldn’t do it right now, but if do, safety MUST come first.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench in a lot of beloved events in 2020. A recent study from Apartment Guide found that 16 percent of people are going to skip trick-or-treating and other holiday festivities this year. Other people are determined not to let the holiday be yet another casualty of the pandemic that just won’t end. We just hope these people are thinking about ideas for a social distancing Halloween.
First things first, if you can’t throw a safe Halloween party during COVID-19 that follows the social gathering rules and guidance for where you live, you probably shouldn’t. No one wants to be “that guy” who winds up on the news for hosting a socially tone-deaf party that puts a whole bunch of people at risk.
However, if you MUST do something and want to safely make the effort, here are some social distancing Halloween ideas that can make your holiday spooky, but not real-life, wind-up-on-a-respirator scary.
1. Make it a mask theme
For reasons we won’t get into right now, not everyone seems to be on board with the whole mask-wearing thing to prevent COVID-19 spread, but for now, it’s what the vast majority of medical experts recommend. If there’s one holiday that lends itself nicely to masks, it’s Halloween, so design your party theme to embrace the current necessity of masks.
For example, guests can pick their favorite healthcare worker to dress up as (doctor, nurse, surgeon, dentist, etc.) Add to the emphasis by collecting funds for a local non-profit dedicated to supporting these real-life heroes.
Or, throw a Wild West party at which all guests have to have a bandanna tied around their face. Added bonus — it’s a cinch to still sip your beverage with this sort of face covering on.
If neither of these ideas speaks to you, simply tell all guests that masks are necessary, either as part of the costume or as a tasteful accessory. Be sure to have some on hand for those who “forget.”
2. Hold the party outside
This isn’t going to be feasible for some colder areas unless it’s a “Dress Like a Wookie” party, but in the warmer climates, it’s completely possible to have an outdoor event in the middle-to-end of October. There are a couple of reasons why the outside is superior to inside during a pandemic.
First, it’s generally easier to stay farther apart when outdoors, so the six-feet-apart rule will be less trouble to maintain. Also, inside spaces simply aren’t nearly as well ventilated as outdoor areas, making it easier for the virus to spread from person to person. And nobody wants that.
Any party is all about location, location, location. Many apartment communities have outdoor courtyards or other spaces that you can reserve. If yours doesn’t, look to local parks that rent out pavilions, typically for a nominal fee. Just make sure that alcohol is allowed if you plan to serve. A ticket for such an offense would be a trick that makes a bag of flaming dog poo look downright wimpy.
3. Provide sanitizing products
Whether it’s a conveniently placed table or a goody bag for each guest, be sure that everyone has access to hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes throughout the party, as well as lots of soap in the bathroom. Instead of hanging up a hand towel, provide paper towels that people can use to both dry their hands and work the doorknob safely.
To that end, place a trash can both in the bathroom and outside, so they have somewhere to dispose of the towel. It’s not the sexiest social distancing Halloween idea, but it’s still extremely important.
Also, it’s wise to set a phone timer for once an hour, so that you can wipe down the bathroom, doorknobs and other communal surfaces on the regular. This chore, although tedious, will up the safety ante of your shindig and will probably only take a few minutes, anyway.
4. Limit your invites
Probably the biggest bummer of all the social distancing Halloween ideas is that it’s necessary to limit the guest list to a reasonable, pandemic-friendly number to minimize risk for you and your guests. Try to keep the headcount at 25 or less, so don’t invite too many more than that. If possible, keep it closer to 10 to 15. This is one scenario where there’s definitely safety in (low) numbers.
Be sure to check your local regulations to ensure you don’t have more guests than what is allowed.
5. Plan for some socially distanced entertainment
Now is not the time for any games or other activities that involve physical contact. So, keep your guests entertained by providing the main event yourself! This can be as simple as a series of costume contests or even a portable karaoke machine. Or, you can hire a DJ, band or other act, just encourage people to maintain that ever-important six feet of space when they’re whipping and nae-nae-ing (are those still things?), or whatever.
If kids are involved, think typical Halloween with a pandemic twist when it comes to social distancing Halloween ideas. A socially distanced costume parade will delight onlookers, and the kiddos will be thrilled by no-contact trick-or-treating. If you have the funds, purchase tiny pumpkins and provide supplies to decorate them. Just be sure to sanitize paint brushes, markers and other communal items between uses.
If you want to be really extra, bag up supplies for each guest and send them home as a fun party favor. Another appropriate craft project would be to make or customize your own Halloween/COVID-19 prevention mask! Or, stick with the classics, like a balloon artist or magician with a Halloween act.
6. Screen guests yourself
On the day of the party, send out a reminder text or email asking that they refrain from attending if they have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19, or if they have any of the symptoms. Sure, it might just be allergies or a cold, but it’d be a serious bummer if it turns out to be COVID after all and all your guests are exposed.
If you really want to go all out, have a no-contact thermometer on hand and take people’s temps when they arrive. Some might be annoyed, but most will be used to it since this is the world we live in now.
You might also ask that all attendees take a COVID test and only come if they receive a negative result.
7. Make it virtual
Yes, you’re probably so over Zoom by now and spend all your workday hours on it, but it’s way more fun when friends, cocktails and costumes are involved. Plus, you can include anyone, anywhere, so the normal geographic limitation is null and void!
Ahead of time, work up a list of conversation starters and fun games, so that there’s no lull in the action.
Safety first when planning your social distancing Halloween party
Really weigh the pros and cons of hosting a Halloween party before you do it. How responsible are the intended guests? Will you really enforce guidelines, or will it make you uncomfortable and take all of the fun out of the experience?
A lot of businesses and communities have put up warning signage and require waivers to limit liability, but those have yet to be really tested in court. Social distancing Halloween parties have the potential to be fabulous when done right, but a complete fail if caution is thrown out the window.
Whatever you decide to do, make it a happy and safe Halloween. There’s always next year for the blowout you really want to have.
The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or medical advice. Readers are encouraged to seek professional legal or medical advice as they may deem it necessary.