6 Spooky Halloween Activities for when Trick or Treat is Canceled

The scariest thing about Halloween this year might just be 2020 itself, but that doesn't mean you can't have some safe, spooky fun with your kids. Here are 6 spooktacular ideas.

Cheryl Butler
4-minute read
Episode #600

It's late October—spooky season is officially in full gear! Normally, this is a time to plan costumes (from funny to frightening), decorate our windows and porches, and ready ourselves to walk the neighborhood in search of goodies as we call out "Trick or treat!"

But who knew that the scariest thing about Halloween this year would be 2020 itself? Many cities and towns have canceled trick-or-treat festivities. And even if they haven't, you may have decided to keep your child safely at home and socially distanced. 

The CDC stresses that although we all love Halloween activities, in some cases they can increase the risk of getting (or spreading) coronavirus or the flu. See the CDC's trick or treat safety guide for more helpful advice.

But no matter what 2020 throws at us, Halloween itself sure isn't canceled! There are plenty of ways for parents and families to stay safe and make their own fun, not to mention some great memories, this year.

1. Have a virtual Halloween party

Okay, I know … you've probably had enough of Zoom and other meeting platforms, already. Not only are many of us on Zoom multiple times each week as we work remotely, but our kids are also in endless online gatherings for school. 

But hosting a virtual Halloween event is a way to use meeting platforms for fun instead of duty or drudgery. So, pick a date and time, and then invite your child's friends to join an online event that will feature things like hangout time, spooky stories, and, of course, fun party games.

Here's a video with some awesome ideas to help you get started.

2. Create a virtual escape room

Escape rooms have been a cool entertainment trend in recent years—they're rooms filled with hidden clues and puzzles to challenge your family's problem-solving and reasoning skills, not to mention encouraging cooperation.

If 2020 has one thing going for it, it's that we've all discovered just how creative and ingenious we can be.

If 2020 has one thing going for it, it's that we've all discovered just how creative and ingenious we can be. Although going to an actual escape room is probably not on this year's family-fun menu, there's a new trend to fill that void—virtual escape rooms! 

Check out this list of six virtual escape rooms from Martha Stewart.

3. Go all out with Halloween decorating

This year, my neighborhood hosted a Halloween decorating contest. Count me in! My daughter and I have decided to throw our creative energies into covering our house with giant, spooky spiders. But if you're arachnophobic (like my editor!), here are some other hauntingly good Halloween decorating ideas to try.

Make sure you involve your kids in the decorating so they have something fun and engaging to do. Older kids who've experienced past Halloween celebrations will definitely be feeling their absence this year. If your kids are too young to offer much hands-on help, then involve them in the decision-making process—"Should we hang a scarecrow on the front door or a skeleton?"

4. Have a Halloween candy hunt

In the springtime, kids love a good Easter egg hunt. Why not borrow from that time-honored tradition and host a spooktacular candy hunt, instead?

Fill small treat bags (reusable bags are a great eco-conscious choice!) with goodies and hide them throughout the yard or house. To raise the stakes, you can hide something extra special like a craft kit, LEGOs, or another small toy. Let your kids know that one of the treasures is something really exciting!

Make sure any extra-special treat you hide is something your kids can share, like art or craft supplies or even a plate of Halloween brownies or marshmallow squares. Let them know in advance that the special surprise is for everyone, but someone will still get the honor of having found it.

5. Start a new trick-or-treat tradition—spooky painted rocks!

Have you ever found a painted rock in your neighborhood? It may have been left there as part of a viral trend called The Kindness Rocks Project. This trend, which started in 2015, encourages people (mainly children) to paint images and words on rocks and leave them around their neighborhood for others to find. How fun!

Gather your kids and go on a rock hunting expedition. Their mission is to find rocks that are about the size of a lemon—not too big, and not too small. 

If you can't find rocks in the wild, your local craft- or garden-supply store is likely to have them.

When you've collected your rocks, have some family fun by first washing and drying them, and then gathering at the table to paint them. Here's a great video that shows you what supplies you'll need and how to create spooky fun characters on your rocks. 

When your rocks are painted and dried, you can take a refreshing fall walk and stealthily scatter them around the neighborhood for others to find. You and your kids will make your neighbors smile as they discover these unexpected bits of Halloween whimsy!

As an Amazon Associate, QDT earns from qualifying purchases.

Recommended by Project Parenthood

Mighty Mommy recommends these acrylic paint pens for rock painting! The pens come in fun primary colors, and they're much easier for little hands to control than paint and brushes. That means they're also less messy. The paint is water-based, so it's safe, washable, and dries quickly. It's not waterproof, though, so be sure to finish up with acrylic sealer.

6. Go on a drive and rate Halloween decorations

Do some of the neighborhoods in your community pull out all the stops in October to dress their homes and yards up in their frightening or fantastical best? Pack up the car and take the kids for a drive through the community to check out all the Halloween Decorations. 

If you have a bigger family, like mine, hold a mock Halloween decoration contest and have your kids act as judges. Tell them that they are now a judging panel (just like on America's Got Talent), and it's their job to rate each Halloween display on a scale of 1 to 10. Give them each a notepad to record their scores. When you pass a house, they'll have a moment to give it a rating. Put someone in charge of tabulating votes for each round while the others hold up their scores. When the drive is over, check the votes to see who your family has crowned Best Halloween Decorator of 2020.

Want to give the winner an award? Leave one of your family's painted Halloween rocks near their mailbox or porch!

The fun you have this Halloween may not be as traditional as in years past, but there's still plenty of fun to be had. If you have some ideas, tweet them @MightyMommy—I'll retweet some of my favorites!

All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.