Quarantine-o-ween: Trick-or-Treat Ideas and Alternatives

It dawned on me just a few weeks ago that we most likely won’t be trick-or-treating this year. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize it, but when I did, woah. It hit me like a punch in the belly. I LOVE Halloween. Even before I had kids, I loved dressing up for Halloween, seeing all the cute little trick-or-treaters in their costumes, and handing out candy to them. I’ll admit, we’ve had some pretty fabulous costumes in the past!

Our family loves Halloween, especially dressing up in costumes!
Wonder Woman, Eleven, Rey, BB-8 / Zombie & Haunted Mansion Bride / Anne Wheeler & Phillip Carlyle (x2)

So what will Halloween look like this year? Well, I’m sure everyone will approach it a little differently, but if you’re at all like me and already lamenting the loss of a “regular” Halloween, I’ve rounded up LOTS of fun ways to celebrate “Quarantine-o-ween” this year, from 2020 takes on trick-or-treating, to at-home activities, fun themed treats, and more. In fact, there are so many ideas that I had to split it into two posts: this one (Trick-or-Treat Alternatives), and Beyond Trick-or-Treating!

There’s something for everyone, whether you’ve got roommates, little kids, big kids, or live solo, regardless of your comfort level being around other people (from “not at all,” “a little bit,” or “totally fine with it”). Check the ideas out below, and let us what else we should add to the list! And if you want even more inspiration, be sure to take a look at our Quarantine-o-ween Pinterest board!

Trick-or-treat inside or around your home

This is probably what our family will decide to do this year: Set up different candy or a fun themed treat in each room or area of your home! You could even give each spot a different theme by putting similar decorations together: witches, skeletons, bats, ghosts, potions, graveyard, pumpkins, spiders, monsters… just use whatever you have to make a fun journey through your home!

Set up treat stops throughout your home for your kids to trick-or-treat safely inside.
(We did not have any candy in the house so I grabbed some fruit strips for this photo, haha!)

Visit friends through video-chat

This would be especially fun for kids, but you could do something similar with your grown-up friends. Set up a simple mini-schedule to “visit” several friends with a video call, as if you are trick-or-treating at their home! When they answer the call, say “Trick or Treat!” You can have different candies on hand to give your kids when they “visit” each friend. This is also a great way for kids to have a chance to show off their awesome costumes and get to say hello to friends and family throughout the evening.

Here’s a grown-up take on this idea: Plan ahead with your friends for each of you to make a (surprise) fun Halloween-themed treat, beverage, or craft. As you pop in on one another via video chat, you can show each other what you made and toast to one another’s creativity, skill, or total “fails”!

Go for a walk

Dress up in your Halloween costumes and go for a long walk around your neighborhood to burn off some calories and check out the festive decor, then go back home and snack on some candy! This way, you get a “light” trick-or-treat experience–you get to see your neighborhood’s Halloween decorations and anyone who’s out and about in their costumes–without coming into contact with people outside your quarantine crew.

Get your neighborhood together

Are you a social super-planner? Or someone who knows everybody in your neighborhood? Or on your neighborhood’s HOA board? I’ve got two ideas for you.

Drive-through trick-or-treating: Take a cue from our (fabulous) neighborhood and organize a neighborhood-wide trick-or-treat drive-through event!

I don’t have a lot of details on this, but here’s what our neighborhood has shared: “Join the contactless trick-or-treating adventure in search of the Great Pumpkin! Special character appearances at each station!” Residents have to stay in their vehicles, and event staff will be placing treats in a “complimentary tote on passenger side mirror and pumpkins placed in trunk of vehicle.” (I’m not positive, but I think that last part means they’re giving us pumpkins and putting them in our trunks.) There are two different start times, a set starting location, and several treat stations along a planned route. No walk ups, registration is required and limited to residents only.

We are very fortunate, our neighborhood HOA does such a fabulous job with events all-year round. I am sure this will be super fun. We can’t wait!

Candy toss from your car: One fun idea Indy with Kids shared was to organize a reverse trick-or-treating with your neighborhood, where people drive by houses–like a birthday car parade–and gently toss candy out their window to kiddos in costumes standing in front of their homes. Think of it almost like your car is a parade float!

“This reverse trick-or-treating is a win-win. It keeps the more vulnerable generation and high risk people from getting too close while still allowing them to enjoy seeing everyone in their costumes, and the kids can still collect ALL THE CANDY!” 

Costume parade (UPDATE 9/24): I heard about this idea after posting this, but I had to come back in to add it! Kids can do a parade where they all walk through the neighborhood at the same, set time–ideally following a pre-planned path of one-way foot traffic. People can put a table with candy in front of their homes and wave to the kids from a distance. I LOVE this idea! How fun, for everyone!

Contactless classic trick-or-treating

Leave a bowl of candy out: If your neighborhood/town is permitting traditional trick-or-treating and you usually love giving out candy, but you’re not psyched about getting close to a bunch of kids throughout the night, there are several ways you can maintain social distance. You can leave a bowl of candy outside your front door or at the end of your driveway, and refill it as needed. We put a bowl out like this whenever we trick-or-treat with our friends in their neighborhood. We just make a little sign that says “Please only take TWO. Happy Halloween!” (We’ve found that kids are usually really good about not over-indulging or dumping the whole bowl into their candy pail.)

Leave your bowl of candy outside with a sign encouraging kids to limit how much they take (and hope one or two kids don’t dump the bowl into their treat pail). We’ve found kids are pretty good about it!

Visit from a distance: Are you sad at the thought of missing out on hearing kids say, “Trick or treat”? You can see and talk to them through your window (be sure you’re six feet away), or even outside at a safe distance from your treat bowl (at least six feet away). Wear a mask, put colored tape or some sort of divider down on the ground as a “don’t cross this line” marker, and enjoy your evening seeing everyone!

Candy shoot (UPDATE 9/24): Make a candy chute, like this dad and daughter did in the photo below! Just make a tube at least six feet long out of a cardboard shipping tube (or tubes plural), or PVC pipe if you happen to have that on hand, and drop candy down the chute to trick-or-treaters! Here are some options:

  • Keep it simple, or go all out, like Wicked Makers did, by adding a skeleton head to the end!
  • Use a kids’ play tunnel, like this, if you have one.
  • Get free shipping tubes from your local Post Office, or buy cylindrical ones from Office Depot, Staples, or Amazon. (The longest size I found anywhere was three feet, so you’d need to combine 2 or 3 by taping them together.)
  • Make one yourself by cutting a cardboard box and folding it. (Oh, how we love using cardboard boxes! Check out the many fun ways we’ve used cardboard boxes over the years.)
Photo and concept: Andrew Beattie

Trunk-or-Treat: Lastly, another great option for candy-givers and trick-or-treaters is to do a socially distant “trunk-or-treat”! You can get together with others in a parking lot and space your cars out from one another, or do this from your own driveways. Not familiar with the idea of “trunk or treat”? It’s where you decorate the trunk of your car in a fun theme and hand out candy from there. It’s kind of like having a mobile Halloween “set” or backdrop. Be sure to have social distant markings or reminders, wear masks, and keep six feet away from trick-or-treaters. (I suggest having a bucket more than six feet out in front of you.)

Want some decorating inspiration for your trunk? Check out some examples from our kids’ school, below, and take a look at these ideas or do a quick search on Pinterest!

Stranger Things, Jurassic Park, and The Great Pumpkin
Coco, Super Mario Brothers, and a cute trunk full of Jack-o-lanterns

Safety Tips:

  • Eating candy: Choose a few pieces of candy that you (or your kids) are going to eat. Open them one at a time, dropping the candy into a bowl as they fall out of the wrapper (so you aren’t touching the actual candy that will go into your mouth). Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, then eat and enjoy!
  • Sanitize: Have hand sanitizer next to your candy bowl for trick-or-treaters to use. If you’re going out trick-or-treating, of course you’ll want to bring hand sanitizer along with you, as well as some disinfecting wipes.
  • Separate: Use tape or chalk to mark six-foot distances on your sidewalk, driveway, or ground outside your door, to create a socially distant “waiting line” for trick-or-treaters. You can even add a sign in front of your home that reminds kids and families to keep six feet apart from others.
Use chalk, tape, stickers, circles, or signs to make six-foot separators leading to your home.

There are SO many alternatives to trick-or-treating, as well as some relatively safe ways to participate in “classic” (but contactless/Covid-safe) trick-or-treating. I hope this inspired you to not give up on Halloween this year if you were feeling down about it, like I was at first.

What do you think you’ll be doing this year for Halloween? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

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