What Should You Do for Halloween This Year?

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The CDC has warned against traditional festivities this year, but that doesn’t mean Halloween is completely canceled. Even if some activities — like indoor costume parties — are off the table, there will still be an October 31, and you may still be in the mood to celebrate. If you’re looking for some safe, spooky ways to mark the day, read on for 11 very good ideas.

1. Trick-or-Treat — With Your Roommate
“I have a vision of everyone throwing candy out their windows this year. I think it’s a ticker-tape-parade-type fantasy, where I imagine everyone is really happy and celebratory and it’s kind of chaos. Just candy flying everywhere. I wish I could throw some candy to kids who are dressed up but also be on the receiving end — running down the street with my open bag just trying to catch as much as I can. Maybe I can get my roommate to indulge me on this.” —Emilia Petrarca, fashion news writer

2. Have an Outdoor Film Festival 
“I’ll be watching horror movies on a projector outdoors with a few friends and drinking hot toddies. We won’t be dressed up, which I’ll miss, but it’s the closest we can get to the spooky spirit this year.” —Kerensa Cadenas, senior editor

3. Check Out a Dog Costume Parade
“I plan to sit on a neighbor’s stoop who is ridiculously obsessed with Halloween, crack a beer, and put out a bowl of candy on the sidewalk for a distanced trick or treat. Also, on the 29th I’ll be checking out Fort Greene’s annual dog costume parade, happening virtually this year, since I can’t think of anything better for my mental health than seeing ten terriers dressed up as handmaids.” —Angelina Chapin, senior writer

4. Try a Movie
“Watch Ringu, the Japanese horror film that got remade as The Ring!” —Molly Fischer, features writer

5. Take Inspiration From Susan Sontag
“After years of people recommending Sempre Susan, by Sigrid Nunez, to me, the book materialized on my bedside table because my boyfriend planned on reading it. Not only does it live up to the hype, this moving account by an accomplished novelist — who also happened to date Sontag’s son and struck up a decades-long friendship with the legendary writer — includes the revelation that, as a child, Sontag often drank glasses of blood at her kitchen table. Apparently Sontag was anemic, and her mom thought introducing raw blood into her diet would help. The blood was from livestock her mom brought home from the butcher shop, not humans — in case you were wondering. All this is to say Sontag is my Halloween inspiration this year, a definite upgrade from Elizabeth Holmes.” —Hannah Gold, writer

6. Watch the Festivities From Afar
“I’m probably going to eat a bunch of candy on my balcony and watch while people in safety masks and costume masks walk around outside my building.” —Madeleine Aggeler, senior writer

7. Read a Creepy Novel 
“If you’d like to inject some seasonal scariness into your life without leaving the house, may I recommend reading Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic? A best-selling novel from this summer, it’s exactly what it sounds like: an old-fashioned ‘girl winds up in a haunted house’ story set in Mexico. The heroine is likable, and the setting is fun but what makes it stand out is the deranged pacing. After a slow start, there’s a huge reveal two-thirds of the way through that’s notably weirder (and more disgusting) than anything you may be expecting. I’m not a regular reader of horror novels, but I was obsessed.” —Izzy Grinspan, senior editor

8. Don’t Tell Your Kids
“Here’s a suggestion for parents: If you can, let Halloween slip by this year without your kids realizing. Since trick-or-treating is canceled, why not skip the costume and the candy and the rigmarole and eat dinner with a movie instead? I mean, if your kid isn’t asking about Halloween and doesn’t seem to care … why should you? I’m pretty sure virtual school and our neighbors ruined this for me about a month ago, but perhaps you’re in a situation where you can get away with it.” —Jen Gann, senior editor

9. Scare One Another With Poetry 
“I found the ideal staying-in Halloween costume: ‘the cat’s pajamas.’ I’ll be wearing pj’s, slippers, and cat ears all day. And as far as activities go, I’m saving jack-o’-lantern carving for the day of. I’ve been burned in the past, carving too early and having the pumpkin rot long before Halloween night. Then, that evening, my family will sit around reading creepy poems and short stories aloud, trying to scare one another. I like my chances with this Louise Glück poem or ‘October in the Chair,’ by Neil Gaiman.” —Rachel Bashein, managing editor

10. Go to a Drive-in Movie
“Since most traditional movie theaters are still shuttered, drive-ins are having a moment right now. If you’re fortunate enough to have access to a car, check the ones near you to see what programming they have planned this month. Some near me are playing Alien, The Thing, and Halloween — an embarrassment of spooky riches.” —Jordan Larson, essays editor

11. Try the Weird Candy
“My only real Halloween plan is to sample the seasonal candy options not otherwise available. I am hard pro on candy corn, but I also recently fell for marshmallow-flavored ‘Witch’s Brew’ KitKats, like any reasonable man in his 30s.” —Matthew Schneier, features writer

What Should You Do for Halloween This Year?