31 ways to celebrate Halloween this year

Updated 7:04 AM ET, Thu October 1, 2020

(CNN)We know door-to-door trick-or-treating may be discouraged or canceled this year, and indoor haunted houses with friends and crowded costume parties are risky. Indeed, Covid-19 looming over us is Halloween's biggest scare.

Don't despair! A global pandemic doesn't change these facts: Halloween 2020 falls on a Saturday. That evening there will be a full moon. And that night we also move the clocks back for daylight saving time. It's the perfect recipe for a late night of ghoulish fun with loved ones.
If you have energy to muster, you could build a contactless candy delivery system, like a catapult, for the children in your neighborhood. But that's not required to have fun this season. Even if you don't have a DIY degree from Home Depot, we've got loads of ways to safely keep the spirit of Halloween alive this month.

Dress up

1. Plan the outfit. Design the most 2020/pandemic-appropriate costume: health care professionals, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, "Karen," Zoom zombies, Black Panther in honor of the late Chadwick Boseman and the vaccine that might halt the spread of Covid-19 are sure to be popular.
2. Cover your face in style. Order cute or creepy Halloween-themed face coverings to wear during your socially distant activities. Keep it real: As the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds us, costume masks are not a suitable substitute for protective cloth face coverings.
3. Stay in costume. Dress up throughout the entire week leading up to Halloween, whether you are running errands, walking the dog or joining a Zoom meeting.
4. Stage a family photo shoot. Pick a family costume theme, take some porch portraits and wait for the likes to pour in on Instagram, or mail out a batch of Halloween cards instead of holiday greetings. I'm digging the party animals.

Pumpkins and decor

5. Organize a neighborhood decorating contest. My city is giving out awards for Horror House, Top Pumpkin Display and Ghouls Choice, with the winners receiving a custom sign with bragging rights for their yard or entryway. Make a map with participating homes so community members can visit.
6. Bring the decor indoors. Redecorate inside for the month. Turn an old plastic dollhouse into a haunted one, decorate a Halloween tree or hang floating candles a la Harry Potter. My husband's crafty aunt made the most adorable "Hiss" and "Hearse" orange and black throw pillows.
7. Do a pumpkin carving challenge. Invite friends to throw in a few dollars to enter and use the money to buy gift cards or candy prizes. Share the photos with friends and family and let them pick first, second and third place.
I thought I'd make this Cookie Monster pumpkin, but then again, these other carving ideas are adorable (get a load of the Swiss cheese holes and mice in #8)! There are just so many creative ways to take your carvings to the next level.
Be sure to seal your masterpiece to prevent it from rotting. Also, if you sprinkle cinnamon inside the lid, your pumpkin apparently will smell like a pie when you light a candle.
8. Paint your pumpkins. You won't have any pumpkin guts to clean up with one of these beautiful designs. And don't you love the ice cream cone?

Blood and guts

9. Haunt your house. Make some horrifying DIY Halloween props that will make your loved ones question your sanity. It's pretty easy to make your own bathroom murder scene. Only look at these examples if you're prepared to be seriously disturbed. Don't forget to put a skeleton on the toilet!
10. Host a creepy feast. You could serve feet loaf, hot dog mummies, a pumpkin puking guacamole and berry eye ball punch, finished off with a strawberry cheesecake brain.
11. Disfigure yourself (with makeup). Watch a gruesome makeup tutorial and try it yourself. Special effects makeup artist Glam and Gore has some amazing how-to videos for zombie faces, mangled princesses and more (not appropriate for children or sensitive souls).
12. Play "Doll in the Hall." Instead of "Elf in the Shelf" in December, take a creepy porcelain doll and secretly move it around the house to freak out your kids. (This is not recommended for kids who are scared of the dark.) Alternatively, I'm loving this creepy doll mobile.
13. Throw a horror movie night. "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre," "The Exorcist" and "Don't Look Now" are good thrillers to start with. For something closer to home, there is this year's Covid-19 horror movie, "Host," about friends who accidentally summon an angry demon during their weekly Zoom call.

Trick or treat