Halloween is traditionally known as a party holiday, especially for college students. However, holidays are looking different this year thanks to the pandemic, and Halloween is no exception. With many students taking classes remotely and others following strict precautions on campus to stay safe from COVID-19, the college social scene has radically changed. Although partying is a hallmark of the college experience for many, this year, students are facing stiff consequences for breaking pandemic college guidelines regarding large gatherings—some have even been dismissed for ignoring the rules. Take this as a reminder that following the rules is critical, not only to escape the wrath of your college but also to keep yourself and others safe and healthy. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have any fun this Halloween.
What’s off the table
The first thing to consider is the obvious: Large group gatherings simply aren’t a good idea. A rule of thumb many colleges are following is a maximum of 10 people congregating at once. Similarly, indoor gatherings should be avoided, but outdoor gatherings are a great alternative. When congregating outside, make sure to wear your face mask if you can’t maintain social distance. However, it’s just a good idea to wear one throughout your gathering anyway, only removing it to eat or drink and making sure you’re maintaining social distance from those you don’t live with when you do. You can visit the CDC website to read their recommendations for holiday celebrations, and social gatherings in general, for more information.
Creative ideas for Halloween plans
Now that we have the obvious precautions out of the way, let’s take a look at some fun Halloween ideas, depending on your situation this semester.
If you’re remote learning and at home
Depending on where you live and what regulations are in place, you may be able to host a small outdoor gathering with friends who are also in the area. Consider dressing up in fun ways (including proper face masks) and gathering around a campfire to roast some s’mores—it’s a great way to naturally maintain social distance (and stay warm on a cool October night)!
If you’re with your family and aren’t able to see friends for Halloween, don’t worry! There are still a lot of fun activities you can do with your family, especially since you don’t have to worry about taking precautions with them. Think carving pumpkins, dressing up in the most outrageous costumes and taking silly pictures, playing spooky board games, and whatever else you can come up with. And if you don’t want to hang out with the fam, there’s always the option of having a scary movie watch party over Zoom with your faraway pals.
If you’re on campus and in the dorms
This situation is a little trickier because you have less space to yourself and restrictions are probably (necessarily) stricter. But no need to worry—there are still many options to have a fun Halloween! Get together with your roommates, suitemates, or whoever you don’t have to maintain social distance with and decorate your living area. You can also plan a fun gathering that evening that still keeps you somewhat distant, like making up a fun scavenger hunt or creating a fake crime scene mystery. There are lots of possibilities!
Depending on your area, your Halloween celebration can just include the people you live with in your dorm or, with proper precautions and ideally outside, it could also include a few more people—but it’s still best to keep any gathering to 10 people or fewer. Again, a lot of this comes down to where you live. In more southern regions of the US, it may be perfectly feasible to dress up and hang out outside on the night of Halloween, whereas further north, even the thought of being outdoors at this time of year makes you cringe (or maybe you’re a Northerner who laughs in the face of cold weather). Fun events could include the standard scary movie night, some sort of charade game, candy (of course), and fun competitive games like eating a doughnut off a string (let’s skip the bobbing for apples). With a lot of traditional fall activities, social distancing is very attainable with a bit of creative thinking!
Also, keep your eyes out for any events hosted by your dorm or school. Obviously, dorm events have changed quite a bit this year, but many schools are still finding ways to connect. This may be a virtual hangout on zoom, a free candy giveaway, or a socially distanced gathering. Whatever it is, consider giving it a shot (especially if it involves free food).
Even though Halloween may look a little different this year, with some thoughtful and creative planning, you can still celebrate and keep yourself and others safe. No matter what, candy, costumes, and fun can be a constant this Halloween.