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To Trick-or-Treat or not Trick-or-Treat: That is the Question!

October 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Nina Washington, MD, MPH

Ahhh, the coronavirus pandemic. One virus single handedly changed everything about the way we live. Zoom weddings, quarantine birthday parties, and socially distanced picnics are just a few of the ways we have adapted to this new lifestyle.

Yet, time and the calendar wait for no man, woman, or mommy! Fall is now upon us, and, as the weather grows cooler, daylight hours shorten and the remaining days of 2020 become less and less, surely our next challenge in adapting to the pandemic is how we will shift our traditional fall holidays and celebrations. First up, Halloween!

To trick-or-treat or not trick-or-treat? In a pandemic? That is the question!

Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve, celebrated in the United States annually on October 31st, is a favorite holiday of children and adults alike. Costumes and masks (coincidentally, not the ones we’ve now grown accustomed to wearing), haunted houses, carving Jack-o-lanterns, and oodles of candy are just a few of the many reasons this holiday is relished by many. However, that was before we were slapped in the face with the most ghoulish of ghouls – the coronavirus.

How is one to navigate this terrain? Should Halloween be cancelled? Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer. Every mom will have to consider the pros, cons, and level of comfort with participating in traditional Halloween activities, modifying this year’s festivities, or foregoing the celebration all together. More than anything, moms should be assured that there is no right or wrong solution. The only requirement is to be safe, be responsible, and do what is best for your family!1

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide specific guidelines and helpful tips to assist with this year’s celebration. According to the CDC, the first step in planning a holiday celebration is to assess the COVID-19 infection levels and risk for infection in your community.2 If either of these levels are elevated or worrisome, it is in the best interest of your family and community to postpone or cancel any in person celebrations. Alternatively, the celebration could be held among your primary family unit. In general, celebrations should aim to be small (i.e., avoid large gatherings), maintain social distancing of 6 feet, and wear masks. Events held outdoors are also preferred over those held indoors.2

If that initial assessment provides comfort in that your community has low levels of the virus, is actively practicing mask wearing, handwashing, and social distancing, then consider celebrating Halloween based on one of the following three tiers as described by the CDC.3

Low risk activities:

  • Hosting a virtual Halloween contest with family and friends.
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household. This activity can also be done outside with friends while practicing social distancing.
  • Gather the members of your household and have a Halloween movie marathon. Make it extra exciting by dressing up as the characters from the movie! You can even invite friends to virtually share in the movie and costume experience.

Moderate risk activities:

  • One-way trick-or-treating. Place prepared goodie bags at the end of the driveway for trick-or-treaters to pick up at their leisure. Use duct tape to mark 6-foot distances so crowds do not form at your “treats table”.
  • Celebrate by visiting apple orchards or pumpkin patches where social distancing is easier to maintain. Be sure to wear your mask, wash your hands, and use hand sanitizer before and after picking apples and pumpkins.
  • Have an outdoor Halloween movie viewing party or an outdoor Halloween costume party. Members of the same household should stay together and maintain social distancing.

The CDC recommends AVOIDING these higher risk activities such as:

  • Traditional trick-or-treating that includes going from house to house and receiving candy.
  • Trunk-or-treats where multiple people gather to pass out candy from the back of their cars or trucks.
  • Attending crowded indoor Halloween costume parties or celebrations.
  • Visiting haunted houses where multiple people may all be in the same room and screaming occurs.

*Only a sampling of the activities provided from the CDC website were listed in this article. For the full list please see CDC reference below.

A special note about masks:

Those wearing costumes this Halloween should consider wearing a Halloween themed cloth mask instead of traditional Halloween masks. It is strongly recommended that children and adults NOT wear a traditional Halloween mask over a cloth mask. Wearing both masks may cause significant difficulty breathing.

Like much that has transpired since the pandemic was declared in March, Halloween gives us another opportunity to adjust and adapt. It is still very possible for mommies along with their little ghosts and goblins to have a fun and safe Halloween. Following these tips and suggestions will keep the coronavirus “monster” from spoiling your festivities.


  • https://services.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/health–safety-tips/american-academy-of-pediatrics-offers-tips-for-a-safe-halloween-during-pandemic/
  • Newsweek. CDC Issues COVID-19 Halloween Guide. https://www.newsweek.com/cdc-issues-covid-19-halloween-guide-if-screaming-will-occur-greater-social-distancing-advised-1536488
  • Centers for Disease Control. Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Holiday Celebrations.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html

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The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.