60% of American parents still plan to trick-or-treat this year

Will you bring your kids out on Halloween?

60% of American parents still plan to trick-or-treat this year
@nikmock/Twenty20

The days are flying by and before we know it Halloween will be here...but what will it look like this year? It depends a lot on where you live.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging families to skip trick-or-treating during the pandemic, but local governments are all over the place on this issue, and so are parents. Some states, like New Jersey, have said "Halloween is on" and issued guidelines on how to trick-or-treat safely. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, city officials backtracked on banning trick-or-treating, softening the language to say the activity is "not recommended."

A new survey of 1,500 parents in the United States finds 60% of parents plan to let their children trick-or-treat this year. Meanwhile, a poll of Canadian parents shows 52% plan to skip trick-or-treating in 2020.


In both nations, cases of COVID-19 continue to climb, but parents on either side of the border are deeply concerned about preserving some sort of normalcy for their kids in a year that has been anything but normal.

Dr. Tista Ghosh is an epidemiologist and senior medical director at Grand Rounds, a digital health care company in San Francisco. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Ghosh explained that she was not surprised by the tone of the CDC's guidelines, but says "there are ways to participate in Halloween that could minimize risks."

Ghosh wants people to "balance the risk of whatever activity they're doing with mental health risks as well, and look for ways to minimize risk rather than reduce risk to zero because that's just not possible."

"I think completely taking away Halloween could be detrimental to some of the mental health issues that kids are facing right now," Dr. Ghosh said.

As Motherly previously reported, "If your family really, really wants to trick-or-treat (and you are comfortable with more risk) the CDC recommends 'participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard).'

Some parents are choosing not to change much about their plans. That new survey of 1,500 U.S. parents (Real Estate Witch + Clever) finds that while the CDC has categorized trick-or-treating as a moderate- to high-risk activity, more than 1 in 4 U.S. parents (27%) plan to trick-or-treat as normal, without additional safety precautions.

A third of parents plan to trick-or-treat with extra precautions. More than 70% will require their kids to maintain social distancing and 68% plan to have kids sanitize their hands frequently.

But if you are feeling like trick-or-treating just isn't safe enough (like that 52% of Canadian parents) your kids can still have fun without going door-to-door.

According to the CDC, the following lower risk activities can be safe alternatives to trick-or-treating: 


  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
  • Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
  • Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
  • Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
  • Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house

No matter what you choose to do this Halloween, we hope it is as safe and as fun as possible. We all need a little fun right now. The world is scary enough.