Unfortunately for many regions across Ontario, Covid-19 has officially crashed the Halloween party! In a media presentation last week, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams made it official – traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating is not recommended for the regions of Toronto, York, Peel and Ottawa.

The Ontario Government website describes several safe ways to celebrate Halloween this year, including:

– Avoiding gatherings with people outside of your household
– Staying home if you are feeling ill, even if you have mild symptoms, or if you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19
– Turning off your porch light and not handing out treats if you are sick, even with mild symptoms, or self-isolating
– Staying within your public health unit region
– Avoiding door-to-door trick or treating in hot spots such as Toronto, York, Peel and Ottawa

For some, this may inspire a few eggs to be tossed at Queen’s park or maybe even a few of Premier Ford’s trees adorned in toilet paper. However, we all know how sacred toilet paper is during a pandemic, so hold that thought!

This pandemic has certainly caused a lot of frustration amongst families, but instead of letting my disappointment boil over in a cauldron of despair, I have learned to channel my negative energy into inspiration for pandemic-friendly activities that the whole family can enjoy!

For Toronto, Peel, York and Ottawa – I feel for you! Trick or treating has been a long standing tradition in my family. I have fond memories of bounding up and down my street from an early age, adorned in costume and pillow case brimming with candy.

Yes, it sucks we cannot trick or treat. Yes, it stinks we cannot dress-up and attend Halloween parties or go to themed club nights (when I was young enough to go to the club, at least!), BUT we need to take public health recommendations seriously and follow the rules. We are, after all, Canadian – eh?

If you find yourself in one of Ontario’s ‘hot spots’ this Halloween – don’t fear! There are plenty of fun, safe and spooky Halloween activities for families to participate in during the pandemic.

Here are my 10 Spooky and Safe Activities for a Halloween in Quarantine:

  1. Go for a drive – Due to COVID restrictions, a lot of traditional walk-though haunted houses have had to close their doors this Halloween. Some, however, have adapted to the times and converted to a drive-through model. We have tickets for Pumpkins After Dark, a magical Halloween attraction in Milton that includes over 150 pumpkin sculptures! Enjoy the spooktakular displays from the comfort of your own car at this COVID-safe attraction and meander through the park with an audio guide. Tickets must be purchased online in advance and time slots are selling out, so book your experience ASAP. Live in Burlington, Oakville or Hamilton? Check out Active Parents Interactive Map to Halloween Houses, a comprehensive listing of local hair-raising houses, all decked out for Halloween! With COVID-19 limiting traditional trick or treating this year, many residents are going all out on their Halloween decorations. The best part? It’s free and full of phantom family fun!
  2. Watch a scary movie – love horror flicks? Pop some popcorn and stay safe on the couch and enjoy a mortifying Halloween or horror themed film. You could even host a watch party on Zoom with friends or family to ensure social distancing guidelines are followed. Pop Sugar Parents has compiled a fangtastic list of 17 kid friendly movies for families to stream on Netflix this Halloween.
  3. Get Boo-baking – Create a spooky snack with little ones at home! How about mini spider pizzas or witch’s finger breadsticks? Delish has a terrifyingly tasty Mummy Brie recipe for cheese lovers. Good Housekeeping also has some super scary recipes including, witch cupcakesblack cat cookies, or choco-pumpkin ice-cream sandwiches to try.
  4. Make individual treat bags – if traditional trick or treating isn’t cancelled in your region, but you want to practice safe social distancing, you could make individual treat bags for friends or fellow trick or treaters. Head to the Dollar Store and grab a box of sandwich/Ziploc bags or little paper bags and create personalized, individual grab and go style treat bags! With all of the restrictions, it may be nice to do something a little special this year! Leave your treat bags spread out on a table or in a large box at the end of your driveway to ensure proper social distancing. Gals and ghouls can saunter by at their leisure and grab some treats to go! Smiles guaranteed. I have even ordered some super cute, personalized Halloween cookies to share with my daughter’s besties! Please don’t forget that many trick or treaters will have food allergies so consider teal/turquoise bags of allergen-free treats!
  5. Host a small, outdoor pumpkin carving party – Invite a few friends/family members from your social bubble over for a mini pumpkin carving party. Take advantage of the mild, fall temperatures and set up some tables in your backyard for an afternoon or evening of paranormal pumpkin fun. If you are trying to avoid the crowds, this may be a good alternative, but be sure to check with your local public health authority on their rules for family gatherings. Play some spooky songs from Good Housekeeping’s top 50 best Halloween songs round-up. Serve Halloween inspired treats or even make it a contest to promote some ghastly competition!
  6. Try ghost hunting in the dark – I found this fun, non-scary activity in an article in Creative Child Magazine. You’ll need to grab some materials and prepare this activity in advance. Head to your local Dollar Store or Party City and purchase some white or clear balloons, clear plastic cups, glow sticks, a sharpie and something to hunt with like a foam sword, fairy wand or Nerf gun. Break the glow sticks and put one inside each balloon and clear cup. Draw ghost faces on all of them, and place them around your home or yard. Turn off the lights or wait until it is dark out. Then, let your kids “hunt” the ghosts! Fun, right?!
  7. Have a Halloween Zoom party – by now, just about EVERYONE is familiar with Zoom calls, even my old school parents! Keep friends and family close and invite them to a costume party via Zoom. Give out virtual awards for wackiest, scariest, most creative, silliest, and funniest costumes. Want to host an adults-only Zoom Halloween party? Good Housekeeping has some great Halloween themed games that put traditional trick or treating to shame.
  8. Create a DIY Halloween-themed cloth mask – Channel your inner seamstress and get crafty! With so many YouTube videos and online tutorials, making a personalized cloth mask is a breeze and it will let your child’s creativity shine through! Head to your local fabric store and find some Halloween themed patterns or create your own spooky mask to celebrate the season! Not super crafty? No problem – just buy plain white cloth masks for your kids and let them decorate it for Halloween. Kids can create a one-of-a-kind Halloween design and sport them on the special day!
  9. Get outside – Enjoy the fall season with your family and friends and get some fresh air. We all know that winter is lurking around the corner! Pitch a tent and camp out in your backyard and tell scary stories. Go for a Halloween walk or bike ride and check out the best Halloween inspired houses in your neighbourhood. Daily physical activity is key for healthy hearts and healthy minds.
  10. Try an online tarot card reading – My sister turned 40 in the midst of the lockdown so I threw her a completely virtual celebration, including an online tarot card reading! It was super fun and interactive and would be a great idea for a harrowing Halloween night! Look online for local mediums, most are offering their services virtually due to the pandemic. Invite some friends online and dust off that Ouija/spirit board and start a Zoom séance! Remember to record the Zoom meeting because too much champagne can cloud one’s memory (right, Carly?).

Wherever you live, be smart and stay safe this Halloween and remember to always follow public health guidelines and wash your hands. Happy Halloween in Quarantine!


A mother and lover of all things practical, Jill is a 40-something, teacher, world traveler and self-proclaimed pragmatist trying to navigate this journey called life. She currently works as a freelance writer/photographer, part-time teacher and full-time mom to two fabulous daughters. Her blog www.pragmamamma.net features simple and family-friendly recipes, original photography and hot parenting topics. Her diverse career has taken her to London, England and to the sky scrapers of Bay Street, Toronto. Jill loves getting creative in the kitchen, reading, spending time with her family and snapping photos around her neighbourhood in Burlington, Ontario.

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