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How to Deal with the Disappointment of Canceled Halloween Events and Safe Ways to Celebrate

Nancy MacGregor MA, ATR-BC, LPC, ACS, Clinical Director

Halloween activities bring joy to children and families across the United States each year. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some Halloween traditions to look different this year. The CDC released new guidelines indicating that some Halloween activities may not be safe during the pandemic. For many adults and children, Halloween has a special place in their hearts. Halloween events being canceled can cause feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress. Parents are struggling emotionally over the losses their kids are experiencing. So how do children and families deal with the disappointment of Halloween events being canceled?

The good news is not all Halloween events have to be canceled. For many South Jersey towns, residents are finding alternative ways to celebrate their favorite Halloween activities. Some of them include:

Put up Halloween Decorations as a Family

It is not uncommon to feel depressed about your favorite Halloween traditions being canceled. A good way to lift your spirits and add in some fun is to put up Halloween decorations. Getting up and decorating can help release endorphins which help fight stress and pain and can help you feel more energetic.

Decorating and Carving Pumpkins

A common Halloween activity among families is decorating and carving pumpkins. This is a safe activity that is considered low risk by the CDC. Children can trace the face or design they want on their pumpkin and parents can do the cutting. When the carving is complete, place a candle inside the jack-o-lantern and watch it glow. Pumpkin seeds can be roasted for a healthy snack.

Virtual Costume Parties or parades

Children love to pick out their costumes and dress up for Halloween. Schools and towns host Halloween parades and costume parties each year for children to show off their costumes. This year, most parades and parties are canceled. However, parents can use phones, laptops, and computers to host video chats to show off costumes and play games. Outdoor costume parades are another option as long as they follow the 6 ft social distancing rule recommended by the CDC.

Scary Movie Night

Pick a scary movie to watch with the family as a Halloween activity. There are many child-friendly Halloween movies for the whole family to enjoy. Consider letting your kids dress up as their favorite Halloween character for the movie.

Find alternative ways to trick or treat

There are many alternative ways to trick-or-treat. If trick-or-treating is still on for your town, consider coming up with an alternative way to trick-or-treat as a neighborhood. Place bags of candy on your lawn for children to take as they walk by. Sanitize your hands before placing the bags of candy outside and make sure your kids are keeping their hands sanitized as well 

How Can I Help My Kid Cope During this Time?

If you are a parent, canceled events may be difficult for your children to cope with. Although there may be many alternative ideas to typical Halloween traditions, this year may not feel the same for them. Helping your child cope can also help your stress level. Here are some ways you can help your kids cope during this season:

Be Honest

If your children have been really looking forward to an event that has been canceled, it may seem easier to just hide the truth from them. However, your kids are dependent on someone they can trust. Even though you may not have all the answers, it is best to be honest. Let your children know that events are canceled to help keep them safe and healthy and that some activities are going to have to wait.

Validate their Feelings

Because of the abrupt social changes, the world is experiencing, children may be feeling more upset and have difficulty understanding advice given by their parents. It is important to acknowledge that many children are under stress just as much as adults. Allow your children to share their feelings and express to them that it is okay for them to feel what they are feeling.

Offer Solutions

Avoid promises about rescheduled events and focus on encouraging self-care and scheduling activities children can participate in during the pandemic. Help your child find other ways that they can engage and connect socially with friends and family members.

Anxiety and Stress Symptoms

There are several symptoms of anxiety and stress to look out for. Some symptoms include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Feelings of danger, panic, and dread
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Digestive issues
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Difficulty thinking clearly

If you are feeling overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, there are many ways you can manage your symptoms.

Allow time for self-care

It is important to take care of yourself and allow yourself time to decompress from your child. Find activities you can enjoy on your own time such as reading a book or exercising.

Ask for help

Do not be afraid to ask for help from a spouse, partner, or another family member if things become too much. Talk to them and let them know how you are feeling so they can be prepared to help you when needed.

Reach out to a therapist at Harmony Bay Wellness

At Harmony Bay Wellness in Clementon, NJ, our licensed therapists can provide an anxiety treatment plan that fits your needs. If you or a loved one is experiencing excessive anxiety or stress, reach out to Harmony Bay Wellness at [Direct]. Our licensed therapist will our happy to support you through this difficult time.



CDC. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Feb. 2020,

“CDC’s Halloween Guidelines Warn Against Typical Trick-Or-Treating.” Accessed 29 Sept. 2020.

“Halloween & COVID-19: Have Fun While Staying Safe.” Accessed 29 Sept. 2020.

Treatment with Harmony Bay

Harmony Bay is an outpatient behavioral health service that offers primary mental health treatment for a variety of mental health disorders. Our mission is to make mental health care convenient and affordable while providing an unmatched experience to our clients. contact us today by calling 855.765.6399.