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  • Writer's pictureConny Chavez

5 smashing ways to celebrate Halloween at home

Although the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state officials frown upon large gatherings due to the pandemic, the Cal Poly Pomona community has found innovative ways to celebrate Halloween. Despite health official strongly advising against trick-or-treating and parties, there are alternative ways to have a fun and safe Halloween.

Here are five creative ways the CPP community is spending Halloween at home.

Spooky treats

Michael Sturman, a second-year construction engineering and management student, will be crafting a haunting monster mash using his favorite candies and desserts to keep the Halloween spirit alive.

“I plan to make a pudding graveyard dessert,” Sturman said. “It will have chocolate pudding, Oreos, gram crackers, gummy worms and more. It will be as sweet as it is aesthetically pleasing, hopefully.”

Students can make spooky, holiday-themed desserts to keep the festive Halloween spirit alive. (Conny Chavez | The Poly Post)

To make similar treats, students can bake cookies or cupcakes and decorate them alongside their favorite candies. Students can build a haunting cookie house with these treats or even a graveyard dessert with delicious monsters. These desserts can include orange frosted cupcakes with colored sprinkles or ghost-shaped cookies decorated with white icing.

Creating spooky treats will not only be an interactive activity for the family to enjoy together, but it will also be a fun way to boost the Instagram feed.

Virtual party

Like many others, Laura Niedringhaus, a third-year mechanical engineering student, and her family hosted annual Halloween parties. However, they are turning to alternative methods of hosting their party this year while maintaining the festive spirit as much as possible.

“One fun thing we do every year is a Halloween party,” Niedringhaus said. “We call it Spooky Movie Night, and our family and friends come over to play games, eat food that is perfectly themed to Halloween and watch a scary movie at the end. Due to COVID, we are moving the party online.”

Niedringhaus plans to continue her family’s tradition of playing the annual Halloween bingo game by inviting family and friends to a spooky Zoom session.

To intensify the family-friendly game night, students may even consider a murder mystery-theme, inviting family and friends to a Zoom or Discord call where everyone dresses and names themselves after their favorite horror villains.

Students can also play the more interactive version of the murder mystery game, Mafia. Each player takes a role and must actively participate to unmask the criminals to win the game.

With these virtual parties, students can enjoy spending the most thrilling holiday of the year with friends and family while staying home.

Costume contest

While the traditional costume contests are not likely to occur in the same format as prior years, fifth-year psychology student Kaitlin Espinoza is keeping the holiday tradition alive with an at-home costume contest.

“This year, I plan to keep the spirit up of Halloween and dress up and stay in with my family and celebrate together in our costumes,” Espinoza said. “I’ll probably go outside and roller skate in my costume just for fun too.”

To recreate the costume contest, students can assemble their costumes at home — whether that be a superhero uniform, a real-life walking jack-o’-lantern or a cat with the classic eyeliner-drawn whiskers.

After the costume contest, students can go roller-skating around the neighborhood like Espinoza or simply have an at-home photo shoot.

Horror games

For gamers, this holiday can be another opportunity to indulge in spooky, thrilling games. While students can download traditional horror games like Outlast, Secret Neighbor and Amnesia, some plan to reanimate their own spooky experiences while playing their favorite games.

“I want to get an extra spooky game of Among Us up, with soundtracks from horror films playing in the background,” Sturman said. “This makes the game much more intense. Although the holiday will be different this year, I plan to still have a horrific day and enjoy virtual time with my friends.”

Connecting with friends through Zoom or Discord can further enhance the frightful holiday with a spine-chilling gaming experience.

Backyard Spookfest

English lecturer Katie Schorr will be spending one of her favorite holidays in her mother’s backyard with her family. “We’re all going to take our own lawn chairs and will be social distancing,” Schorr emphasized. The backyard will be decorated with pumpkins and spiderwebs and include a series of lawn games, such as corn hole.

Students can enjoy the holiday with a safe family celebration, embellishing the house with various Halloween decorations. (Conny Chavez | The Poly Post)

“I really love this kind of stuff, so two months ago, I was texting my sister and my mom, ‘What are we doing for Halloween?’ because I refuse to not do anything,” Schorr said.

Schorr described that she and her family will celebrate the holiday together with a fire pit, festive fall treats and home screening of Halloween family film classics like “Hocus Pocus.” Schorr did not want the children to miss out on the fun of trick-or-treating, so she substituted this with a safer idea, a piñata. To ensure safety while abiding by social distancing standards, a spooky piñata can be an exciting alternative for children to get their Halloween candies in 2020.

Although California is continuing to enforce major public restrictions, Halloween 2020 does not have to be canceled. With some extra creativity this season, the CPP community can celebrate Halloween with loved ones online or in-person while social distancing.

(Originally published in The Poly Post.)

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