More Trick, Less Treat: Halloween 2020 set to deliver spook-tacularly, despite restrictions

26 October 2020

Coronavirus restrictions may be putting a halt to normal Halloween traditions this year, but that won’t stop Scots having fun.

The days are getting shorter and the leaves are turning copper – which can only mean one thing. Yes, it’s late October and Halloween is on the horizon. But with social distancing and restrictions on social gatherings still in place, what exactly will Halloween 2020 look like?

Halloween raked in a whopping £431 million for retailers last year. Although it’s difficult to predict, experts anticipate a spooky outlook for retailers this year. According to a report by The Grocer, retailers can expect the usual demand for sweet treats to fall, as the idea of passing sweets from person to person loses its appeal! The closest comparison is Easter 2020. During the height of COVID-19 restrictions, normal Easter sales slumped significantly, by 16.7%.

Last year, sales of chocolate, sweets and baked goods brought in £72.2 million in sales. So bad news for retailers may, in fact, signal good news for health campaigners.

Earlier this week, the Scottish Government urged families and children to avoid traditional activities such as guising – which would require children to go from house to house - and with the existing rules on household gatherings, it is unlikely that normal Halloween parties will take place.

“I don't want to be the person standing here telling children they can't go guising, but if it is necessary because of where we are then it's better than allowing children to be at risk,” said Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Since the First Ministers remarks in September, coronavirus case numbers in Scotland have risen substantially, and further restrictions have been put in place across the Central Belt.

But fear not – for it is not all doom and gloom! Experts predict that, whilst demand for confectionery may fall, retailers will likely see an uplift in sales of Halloween costumes and decorations as families think up alternative activities and move to more ‘in-house’ fun.

How are families in Scotland celebrating the spooky festival?

We spoke to some families in Scotland to find out how their plans had changed this year.

Lynsey from Monifieth tells us, “This year we are taking the kids around a local country park to complete a Pumpkin Trail they are putting on. They will be wearing their Halloween costumes for it!” Lynsey and her partner had been hoping to take them to a Halloween party this year, but realised that they wouldn’t be able to due to restrictions. But has the change in plans put a dampener on things? “No way. The kids are really excited – as long as they get to dress up, they would be happy to even just sit in the house!”



Like Lynsey, Suzanne says her daughter, Isla, is still excited, despite the changes that coronavirus measures have made to their normal plans. Isla would usually be dressing up for a night of guising, or partying with her cousins who would normally be visiting from England during their half-term break. Now that household mixing is restricted, Suzanne tells us that things will be moving a bit more ‘in-house’ this year. She has booked herself and Isla in to pick pumpkins at a nearby farm, and Isla has already got her Halloween costume sorted.

“We’re treating it like a mini-Christmas.” “We’ll be decorating the house, and I’ve put together a Halloween goodie bag, filled with activities and a reading book!”



Alternative ideas for a #HealthyHalloween

It’s great to hear that coronavirus restrictions haven’t put a dampener on Halloween plans – and have even brought about some creative, alternative ideas.

If you are looking for something different, but just as fun, to do this Halloween, why not try one of the options below?

  • Visit a pumpkin trail or patch and pick your own pumpkin. Kids will get fresh air and some exercise, and will see how pumpkins are grown. Why not do it in fancy dress for some more excitement?
  • Cook something together using pumpkin ‘innards’. If you are carving pumpkins this year, remember – the insides are edible. You can clean and dry the seeds, sprinkle with a little oil, add your favourite spices and roast in the oven. You could also try a creamy pumpkin and coconut soup, or add some roasted pumpkin to your favourite dish.
  • Halloween crafts. Do you always have spare jars lying around? Why not decorate them and make some spooky Halloween lanterns to help decorate the house or garden?
  • Outdoor autumn nature art. Autumn is the best time of year to do this, with colourful leaves falling from the trees. We have seen some brilliant examples this year – created using anything that nature provides: leaves, sticks, fallen fruits, stones, arranged in interesting patterns on the ground outdoors. Let your imaginations run wild!
  • Check out local activities. Many towns and villages are putting together a programme of alternative Halloween activities this year, so it is worth checking your local Facebook page to see what’s on. Jenn, whose parents live in Blackford in Perthshire, shared with us some local events taking place, including a pumpkin/turnip carving competition, best decorated door/house, a Halloween parade, and even some ghost story telling via Facebook Live!

Check out this blog from the Scottish Cancer Prevention Network for even more #HealthyHalloween ideas

Why not try out some of these spook-tacular recipes from Early Start Nutrition – perfect for little chefs