Ideas for Safer Celebrations

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Virtual Winter Holidays

Gathering virtually or with the people you live with is the safest choice, especially if you have family or friends who are not vaccinated or who are vulnerable to severe COVID-19 illness. Here’s some ideas for keeping the fun alive even when you’re apart:

On-screen get togethers | Sure, it won’t be quite the same, but scheduling a few virtual holiday gatherings can take the sting out of being separated. Getting together online to cook, open gifts, decorate desserts, do a craft project, listen to a playlist, or read stories can create a bit of the togetherness we crave. Consider time zones when scheduling, and make sure that any people who are not teach-savvy get help beforehand so they can be included.

Secret gift exchange | Assign each family or friend a name and ask them to mail or do a no-contact delivery of a small gift they make or buy to their assigned person. Open gifts on a group video chat and try to guess who gave what to whom.

Remote potluck | Rather than getting together, you can assign dishes to friends and family and deliver them to one another’s homes. Or deliver just the ingredients for a dish or meal. Then, log in to your favorite video chat app to cook or dig in.

Learn a recipe together | Pick a favorite family recipe, share an ingredient list ahead of time with friends or family, and then get together virtually to try cooking or baking. Good times are guaranteed, whether you end up with delicious dumplings or poorly decorated cookies.

Game night | If you thrive on competition, make your virtual gatherings about more than just conversation. Trivia games, Pictionary, Scattergories, and Bingo can all work great online. Or try out a virtual bake-off, talent show or a scavenger hunt where teams race to find common and not-so-common items around their house. This is also a fun one to set up for kids so they can connect virtually with friends.

If you choose to celebrate with friends or family in person, especially with those who are unvaccinated, you are increasing the risk of COVID-19 infection. Help to lessen the risk by keeping groups small, gathering outside if possible, and wearing masks when not eating or drinking. Make sure you have room for guests to spread out. Follow our safer gatherings checklist.

A Safer Halloween


We know many people want nothing more than to return to how Halloween was pre-pandemic, but it’s important to think about your family’s level of risk and adjust plans as needed to keep everyone safe.

Trick or treating safely

Looking forward to a return to trick or treating this year? Here’s some ways to help make the experience safer for everyone.

  • Keep your group small. Avoid mixing with many different households. Don’t be afraid to ask about people’s vaccination status before deciding who to spend Halloween night with.
  • Wear a mask. Whether handing out treats or going door to door, keep a mask on. Even if your child’s costume covers their face, it won’t protect them and others unless it fully covers their nose and mouth. And remember, children under 2 should not wear masks. If 2 or older, incorporate a protective mask into your child’s costume.  
  • Hand out candy individually. Avoid offering a communal candy bowl and teach your children to ask for candy to be put in their container/bag, rather than grabbing from a common container.  Some alternative ideas:
    • Put candy on a small table outside that kids can easily grab.
    • Try fun ways to give out treats while keeping physically distant, such as sliding the candy down a wrapping paper tube or pipe into trick-or-treat bags.
    • Use tape to mark spots six feet apart on the way up to your door where people can wait.
  • Spread out. Make sure you and your children stay six feet away from others as much as possible.
  • Keep hands clean. Wash hands before you head out and when you get home. And bring hand sanitizer with you so kids can clean their hands between house visits.

Ideas for safer (but still spooky) good time

If you or others in your household are not vaccinated, or you’re not feeling ready to gather, the following are safer options for Halloween festivities. Remember the basics: wear a face covering, limit close contact with others outside your household, limit common touch points, and wash or sanitize hands.

  • Hold a candy hunt (think Easter egg hunt, but more costumes) at home with your immediate family, or in a park or outside with friends and neighbors. Household teams can take turns if you’re including friends and neighbors.
  • Carve or decorate pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with friends.
  • If you’re feeling crafty, decorate different doors at home and have your kids knock on each one to trick-or-treat.
  • Love to dress up and decorate? Hold a virtual costume party so everyone can show off their creations and carved pumpkins. Consider making it a challenge to create a costume from items you already have at home.
  • Exchange candy with families you know. Do a drop-off delivery at their doorstep for a Halloween surprise for the kids.
  • Organize a neighborhood costume parade with physical distancing. Use jack-o-lanterns to light the way.
  • Keep any gatherings small, outdoors when possible or in larger well-ventilated spaces where you can stay 6 feet apart.

If you do choose to get together with others for Halloween, you may be putting yourself at risk for COVID-19 infection. Help lessen the risk by keeping the group small, wearing masks when not eating or drinking and making sure you have room for guests to spread out. See our safer gatherings checklist to learn more.