A few weeks ago, it suddenly hit me that as we wrap up the year in the midst of a pandemic, we’re going to have to re-think all of our holiday traditions. I didn’t love missing out on summer vacation, of course, but Halloween? The holidays? I wasn’t prepared to navigate my favorite time of year without people and parties!

For me, Halloween is starting to look different than previous years because I have a middle-schooler who is no longer interested in trick-or-treating. This year, the big idea is to go to haunted houses with friends. What will haunted houses be like? Part of what makes a haunted house so scary is the tight spaces and the actors that get as close to you as possible. Can you even do a socially distant haunted house? Would it be any fun? Even if it is doable, shouldn’t we abstain anyway?

Another Halloween tradition in my family is a visit to the pumpkin patch and corn maze. There’s nothing like a hot funnel cake and apple cider in the early fall. Something tells me that a Zoom corn maze isn’t really going to hit the mark.

As a mom, I’m realizing that I’m going to have to put in even more effort this year to make the holidays special for my kiddo. I can’t just auto-pilot all the usual activities or figure something out at the last minute. I’m bummed about that, but there’s a great opportunity here to start new traditions in my family and try things we otherwise wouldn’t have.

The haunted house and corn maze are question marks at this point. But we have a few activities that we’re looking forward to that are also responsible, pandemic-wise.

Make Funnel Cake and Cider

There’s no reason to miss out on all the seasonal goodies just because the associated event is cancelled! This is one that we do every year. Making funnel cake is easier than you think and there are tons of recipes online. Same goes for apple cider. Bonus for the adults – since you’re already home, you can add as much Butterscotch Schnapps to your cider as you want!

Zoom Pumpkin Carving Contest

This is the perfect year to really up our collective pumpkin carving game. We’ll be carving more pumpkins than usual and taking our time to make them masterpieces. On top of that, we’re going to grab some pumpkin ale and set up a contest on Zoom with friends. After carvings are completed, we’ll do a big reveal and vote on a winner. Then we can display our pumpkins outside for the neighbors to admire from 6 feet away.

Hunt A Killer Mystery Puzzle

There are a lot of mystery puzzles available out there, but my true crime obsessed household opted for the Hunt A Killer series. We get clues in the mail and we have to work together to solve a murder. This is a great alternative to a board game, and it’s collaborative, so no tears about who’s winning.

Scary Movie Marathon

Who doesn’t love a good movie marathon? This is something we usually do each year in December as a way to spend more time together cozied up in front of the fireplace. I figure, why not start in October? As the horror movie buff in the family, I’ll delight in finding the scariest movies to subject my family to (muahaha). You can modify this to Halloween movies based on your preferences and what’s age-appropriate. Hocus Pocus, anyone?

What about you? I’d love to hear how you’re handling re-working your holiday activities to adjust to the pandemic. Are there any creative socially-distant activities you’ve come up with? Are you planning on taking your kids trick or treating? If so, what will that look like? How are you finding balance during this time?


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Emily is a Colorado Springs native who is passionate about volunteering and community engagement. She currently serves on the board of Teen Court and works for the Rocky Mountain ADA Center. Her pre-teen daughter, Amelia, keeps her busy, challenged and entertained. Emily is a self-proclaimed nerd and spends time reading, going to shows, playing games and exploring Colorado. She is obsessed with otters and soft pretzels and is a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society. She hopes to inspire and inform other young, single mothers and to be a resource for any parent in a non-traditional family. Emily is a brand new aunt and you better believe she’s going by “Auntie Em.”