How to Celebrate Halloween During a Pandemic

Hint: It involves lots and lots of candy. And maybe some spooky cocktails too…

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It’s Spooky Season folks. And what a spooky season it is. Trick-or-Treating is out this year (at least in California) and anxieties are running high, or they ought to be, because of the Presidential Election on November 3rd (VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!). As I said earlier this week in a different blog, it’s a stressful time. As the cool earthiness of autumn sets in it can be hard to remember what normalcy, good times, or even relaxation feels like.

So that’s why, even with trick-or-treating not in the cards (Tarot cards that is), I wanted to lay out a few ways you and your friends, peers, family, whoever, can still have a spooktacular Halloweekend. Let’s get to it.

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Bake Some Halloween-Themed Treats

(Murder your sweet tooth!)

There are tons (and I mean tons) of articles out there with various Halloween baking options. My personal favorite candy overall, you know it for it’s *sing-song voice* “peanut-butter chocolate flavor,” has a wealth of recipes featuring it in banana bread, brownies, cookies, layered in cakes.

Unfortunately, there are fewer recipes for my favorite candy bar, the toffee, almond delight that is the Heath bar. Please do not try to contact me if you develop such a recipe because then I’ll make it myself and eat it all and then I shall go mad!!! (Just kidding, sorta.)

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If baking with Halloween candy itself isn’t your slice of pie, then why not just get into the Autumnal spirit and bake a Pumpkin pie instead? Or, bake Halloween cupcakes like the kind pictured above, with little ghost, vampire, and monster themed images. These will be fun to decorate…and fun to devour later.

Or, if eating a bunch of sweet treats standing in front of the kitchen counter isn’t for you, then bake a bunch anyway and give them to neighbors or friends (as long as they’re comfortable accepting food from outside the house, i.e. pandemic rules).

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Go All Out on Decorations

(And I Mean ALL OUT!)

We can dress up obviously, but why not go all out and dress your house/apartment up for Halloween. Lay out the hanging ghosts, the fake gravestones, the skeletons, the witches, etc.

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As more a fan of the macabre than the downright scary, I’m particularly partial to placing skeletons in funny or innocent environments, like the photo above of a skeleton getting mowed down (literally). If none of that tickles your funny bone or activates your amygdala, then how about setting up a mock crime scene, caution tape and all?

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Watch a Scary Movie

(Here’s JOHNNY!)

Nothing gets the juices flowing like a scary movie watch party. If you have roommates who are down then make it a whole festival, picking horror films only by certain sub-genres (like zombie for example) or by certain directors. Turn it into an all day affair and I guarantee you’ll be feeling the Halloween vibes by the end.

If you live alone and you don’t mind frightening yourself a tad, then pick a horror film you’ve never seen, one that is known to be particularly horrifying. (An article in Forbes supposedly found the 2012 Ethan Hawke-starring Sinister [dir. Scott Derrickson] to be the most ‘scientifically’ scary film.) Now, once you have your movie, turn off all the lights in your house and, here’s the kicker, unlock all the doors and windows. Now settle in, watch, and feel your heartbeat rise!

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Get Seasonally Crafty

(Autumn comes but once a year!)

So maybe decorating an entire house isn’t your idea of fun, especially not the cleanup after Halloween? What about some lower maintenance crafts for your friends and family to participate in? If you do them outside, with folded tables and ample space, you could even get socially-distanced crafty!

One possibility is painting pumpkins (as pictured), instead of carving them. This saves pumpkin-entrail clean-up as well as ensures that the pumpkins will last far longer, brightening up your porch or yard for more than just a week or so.

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Another possibility is collecting autumn leaves, a challenge in and of itself in Southern California, and making festive tableaus with them, by gluing leaves, twigs, and paper cut-out figures, to cardboard to showcase favorite scenes, images, or other seasonally inspired visuals.

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Finally, Make Some Seasonal Cocktails

(Halloween really gets going when the kids go to bed, am I right?!)

I saved this one for last because it’s only for the adults in the room. And by adults I mean anyone over the age of 21. Search the interwebs for all the best Halloween or Fall cocktail recipes you can find. If you have friends or family around, turn it into a group activity and ask everyone to prepare one cocktail of choice. Then take turns sampling them and deciding which raises the hair on your neck…in a good way that is.

If the kiddos just won’t fall asleep, or it’s still early in the day, have them help you whip up a batch of seasonal mocktails (cocktails minus the booze). No longer just fancy lemonade and Roy Rogers (not that there’s anything wrong with either), mocktails have become their own cultural phenomena. It’s an excellent way of introducing your kids to more “adult” beverages in a risk free environment, or just cutting back on the alcohol to indulge in more candy and sweets!

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Final Thoughts

Obviously, this isn’t the Halloween anyone wanted. Nor is it the Halloween any one asked for. But it is the Halloween we have. So we might as well make the best of it. There’s still a chance you can make this Halloween unforgettable fun for a reason besides the pandemic.

Why not give it all you’ve got. It may take your mind off your worries. Maybe you’ll come up with new traditions, like some of the ones I listed above, to carry into next year, where hopefully you’ll do them again, only this time by choice. Happy Halloween y’all!