By being creative, everyone can safely celebrate Halloween this year. Beyond your household, consider holding a neighborhood physically distanced costume parade.
As healthcare professionals, we share with our patients the many pandemic-driven changes to our daily activities, including celebrations and other social interactions. We now wear face coverings in clinical areas and shared public spaces. Handshakes have been replaced by a hand-wave while standing six feet apart. Gatherings for weddings, graduations, birthdays, and funerals have been either postponed, held virtually, or held in-person with just a few people present. These changes, for both healthcare professionals and their patients and families, have caused disappointment, disconnection, and even depression.
During the pandemic, how do we advise our patients and families to enjoy this holiday while preventing the spread of COVID-19? By collaborating with experts from Johns Hopkins Child Life and Infections Disease experts, and referencing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidelines for holiday celebrations, we’ve come up with a list to guide you as you help your patients and their families enjoy a safe and fun trick-or-treating experience in a clinical setting or at home.
1. Physically distant (six feet apart) costume display
One of the best parts of Halloween is wearing a costume. This fun experience is still possible, but instead of going door-to-door in a costume, encourage families to organize a physically distant parade for children to walk around outside and show off their costume. Face masks can also be decorated and incorporated into costumes.
In the inpatient setting, try reverse trick-or-treating, so that hospital staff come and see patients dressed up in their rooms and remain six feet away.
2. Grab-and-go treats
While traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, and even trunk-or-treating, carries a high risk for spreading COVID-19 according to the CDC, it’s still possible to modify the tradition. If parents are preparing premade goodie bags to leave in front of their homes for children to pick up while maintaining physical distance from others, remind parents to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds prior to and after assembly. Encourage the use of recyclable or clean and reusable material to be as environmentally friendly as possible, including Halloween-themed plastic cups or brown paper bags that kids could then decorate and use again. You could also recommend having a piñata at home to fill with treats to share among members of the same household.
Though it’s often easy to think about all the activities we’re missing out on due to the pandemic, use this as an opportunity for yourself and your patients to create new holiday experiences and traditions. We can continue to carve and decorate pumpkins or arrange hay bale displays with Halloween decorations. We can also encourage activities like age-appropriate scary movie nights, telling spooky stories, scavenger hunts at home, or an eye-spy around the neighborhood.
For more comprehensive guidance on health and safety during holiday celebrations, please visit this CDC site.