The past few years, I’ve been going to Salem, Massachusetts, to celebrate Halloween weekend with my boyfriend. Although I’m too much of a wimp to try the haunted houses, I love spending the day browsing craft stalls with a warm apple cider donut in hand. My favorite part is having lunch in a cozy tavern, gazing out the windows, and admiring everyone’s costumes.
I’m so disappointed that we won’t be able to continue our tradition this year due to COVID-19.
I can’t imagine how disappointed many children are due to restrictions on Halloween this year. Unfortunately, many kids with juvenile arthritis use medicines that suppress the immune system, and they can’t take any risks. Even if your community hasn’t canceled Halloween, you may have already decided to keep your child home to protect them.
Or, alternatively, maybe your child hasn’t been feeling well and isn’t up to trick-or-treating this year. JA can really be a spoilsport sometimes.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have any Halloween fun! You should still celebrate in ways that make you feel safe. Trick-or-treating, haunted houses, and parties aren’t the only ways to have fun on Oct. 31.
Mail Halloween cards
A week or so before Halloween, have cousins, neighbors, or schoolmates mail cards to one another! You can always find packs of greeting cards at the dollar store, or you can be creative and make them yourself. Add stickers, trading cards, a coloring sheet, a word search, or other fun and flat items.
Not only will your child be so happy to open so many letters, but they also will be excited to display their cards! I made sure to send some fun cards with stickers to my little cousins this year.
If your neighbors have decorated their houses, consider going on a walk or a drive through the neighborhood to admire the spooky decorations. This is typically a Christmas tradition for my family, but we may make a Halloween tradition of it, too, considering how more people are putting up lights and cobwebs this year. Bring along a Halloween-decorated wagon or mobility aid for your child if it’s a long walk.
I’ve been hearing about so many parents choosing to do Halloween egg hunts this year instead of trick-or-treating. It’s the same concept as an Easter egg, except using orange and black eggs instead of pastel colors. Hide a bunch of eggs filled with candy and other treats around the house or the yard, and let the kiddos go find them!
If your child has issues opening plastic eggs due to arthritis in their hands, you can tie each piece of candy with an orange and black ribbon, put them in small paper bags, or wrap them in orange tissue.
What more can I say? Scary movie marathons on Halloween go together better than peanut butter and jelly, and are perfect if your child is flaring.
If your child is too young to sit through an entire movie, make a playlist of Halloween-themed episodes of their favorite cartoons. Add in some new favorites, too. Every little one needs to see “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” at least once.
Virtual celebrations and haunted houses
No one celebrates Halloween better than Walt Disney World. Watch a recording of their seasonal fireworks in front of the castle. If you can’t get enough Disney, you can find YouTube videos of their special “Boo to You” parade.
If your kids are missing out on haunted houses and hayrides, you can find YouTube videos of haunted houses and live stage shows hosted by Universal Studios. Though I must warn you: Those haunted houses are intense!
If your child is artsy, they may enjoy spending Halloween evening doing spooky crafts. Painting pumpkins — an arthritis-friendly alternative to carving — and making glittery spiderwebs on black construction paper are fun ways to spend the evening.
Stories by the fire
If it’s an option for you, having a bonfire in the backyard is an excellent way to spend Halloween evening. This one is especially useful if trick-or-treating is allowed in your community but your child won’t be participating. Tell stories, make s’mores, and enjoy some family time. Plus, the warmth from the fire may be soothing for your child’s joints.
If you feel comfortable and it’s allowed in your community, you could invite trusted guests and social distance. But for safety reasons, be sure no one wears a long, flowing costume.
My Halloween plans
While our trip to Salem has been postponed this year, we’ll still manage to have fun. I will be pretending to be at the Disney World Halloween party while drinking some butterbeer. And I’ll be planning all the fun we’ll get to have during our first Halloween with a COVID-19 vaccine.
Note: Juvenile Arthritis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Juvenile Arthritis News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to juvenile arthritis.
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