Illustration of house on Halloween by Baz Pugmire
Whether you're hanging out virtually or going to a small get-together, stay safe! (Illustration by Baz Pugmire, Michigan State University)
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Illustration of house on Halloween by Baz Pugmire

You can still take part in the seasonal festivities without putting your health at risk.

As Oct. 31 quickly approaches, many college students might be wondering how different Halloween will look this year amid a pandemic. While the spirit of Halloween begins to fill the air, there will undoubtedly be changes to the way individuals celebrate the holiday. Despite the mask-wearing guidelines and social distancing rules, it is still possible for students to wear costumes, deck out doorways with scary decorations and have a safe yet enjoyable Halloween. Here are five tips for having fun during the spooky season.

1. Throw a virtual Halloween party

Whether you want to have a pumpkin-carving competition or a costume contest between friends, having a Halloween party on Zoom allows students to get creative while socially distancing. Costumes can be funny, raunchy or falling apart, and it won’t matter because everyone is in their own homes. Consider sending out themed invitations via text or email a few days prior.

Because Halloween is the one night of the year where you can dress up as someone else and let loose, the idea of going out to a party might be tempting. However, with CDC guidelines in place, it is difficult (and unsanitary) to host gatherings with a large group of people inside stuffy apartments or frat houses.

Thanks to Zoom, you can have up to 100 people attend your virtual party. If you prefer to use group Facetime, 32 individuals can be added to a call at a time. A virtual party is the perfect excuse to don the costume you’ve been dying to wear, order a pizza for one and laugh at friends dressed in their silly outfits.

2. Enjoy the parts of fall that don’t require masks or social distancing

Though students might have to skip the haunted houses and pumpkin patches, there are plenty of amusing alternatives that can be done solo and (thankfully) without a mask. Lighting a cinnamon candle and enjoying a pumpkin-spiced beverage can give students their daily fix of fall.

If you’re looking for an Instagram-worthy photo op, decorating a dorm or apartment with cobwebs, skeletons and graveyard ornaments can serve as the necessary backdrop. To achieve the ambiance of fall, try dimming the lights, lowering the thermostat and wearing your favorite oversized sweater.

Another great way to get in the Halloween spirit without catching or spreading the virus is to play seasonal hits like “Monster Mash” or “Thriller” while decorating or doing chores.

3. Be safe and conscientious if attending a Halloween get-together

If you are going to a Halloween party, choosing a costume that requires a mask is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others. If you’re going for a classic, casual look, I recommend dressing up as a doctor, ninja or the killer from “Scream.”

If you’re attempting a silly or over-the-top appearance, consider renting an outfit from a local costume shop or dressing up as a Disney character or going as your school’s mascot. Dressing up and going out can still be CDC-compliant if you wear the appropriate costume and avoid large, crowded groups of people. One of the most important accessories to add to an outfit is a bottle of hand sanitizer. 

4. Binge watch scary movies

Sitting home on the Friday evening before Halloween might sound boring, but watching a scary movie will surely spice up your night. Watching an unnerving movie is undeniably better when someone else is nearby. Thanks to the Netflix plug-in that allows friends to stream a show at the same time, social distancing while watching a movie is now possible. Flicks like “Insidious,” “Paranormal Activity” and “Silence of the Lambs” are all currently available on Netflix.

Set the scene for watching a haunted film by turning off the lights, snuggling under a warm blanket and sipping your favorite Halloween concoction. If you prefer to read the book instead of watching the movie, novels like “The Shining” or “Frankenstein” are go-to classics. Though bar hopping on Halloween is fun, staying inside can be a safe and entertaining alternative.

5. Create fun, festive Halloween treats

One of the best parts of Halloween is the fall-inspired delicacies. If you’re fiending for a dessert, try creating pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies or a chocolate Halloween party mix. If you know your way around a kitchen, consider baking a pumpkin or apple pie from scratch. While living in a dorm can restrict dining options, it is still possible to bring recipes to life with a microwave and a minifridge.

Students residing in a dorm can have a little taste of fall by making a pumpkin cake in a cup or decorating candy apples. Whether you’re a beginner, a connoisseur or just short on time, there are hundreds of Halloween recipes that can easily be found with a Google search.

For the college students who are still too lazy to try even the simplest of recipes, buying a family size bag of assorted candy is a seasonally acceptable meal of choice. Spiked apple cider is another great way to get the warm feeling of fall without going to a bar or restaurant. Students might be dreading staying in during this spooky season, but these treats will make the time spent at home worthwhile.

For a typical college student, admitting that they’re too old to celebrate Halloween isn’t an option. Creating a quirky costume and decorating dorm rooms are a yearly rite of passage. Despite being in a pandemic, students don’t have to forfeit the excitement of Halloween.

Hosting virtual parties or dressing up with masks are innovative solutions to celebrate the special day. With a little guidance, students can embrace the bewitching holiday safely by starting new traditions and modifying old ones. Though going out to bars and parties might be fun, the spirit of Halloween truly starts at home.

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