How Trick-or-Treating Will Look Different This Year

How Trick-or-Treating Will Look Different This Year

By Rebecca Abu Sharkh | Solutions Consultant

Trick-or-treating is usually done outside and with small groups of people. Nonetheless, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has deemed it a high-risk activity due to close contact with children from other households and shared surface areas. Indeed, the idea of children from across the neighborhood grabbing from the same candy bowl while trick-or-treating has led many parents to reconsider whether or not to let their children engage in the tradition this year. 

Instead, the CDC has suggested at-home scavenger hunt-style or one-way trick-or-treating with individually wrapped treat bags as lower risk Halloween activities. Others have suggested engaging in virtual or drive-by trick-or-treating. 

Will Parents Allow Children to go Trick-or-Treating?

But what do the parents think? From October 1-5, Premise surveyed over 500 parents with children under the age of 13 throughout the U.S. about their thoughts around trick-or-treating this year. 

The data is clear. While 78% of parents went trick-or-treating with their children last year, only 52% of parents are planning to do so this year. Nearly a quarter of respondents say they will not go trick-or-treating in person this year with another 24% unsure of their plans. The top three reasons why their children are not going out this year are general safety concerns around COVID-19 (52%), local social distancing policies (18%), and no interest (13%). Only 8% and 2% said they were not going trick-or-treating due to their children being too old or local mask-wearing policies.

Of the roughly half of the parents allowing their children to go trick-or-treating, 63% will require them to wear a protective face mask–not to be confused with decorative Halloween face masks. Another 23% do not plan on their children wearing masks, while the remaining 14% are unsure. As with regular precautionary measures around COVID-19, parents mandating their children to wear masks differs between states. At one end of the spectrum are South Carolina (50%), Virginia (50%) and West Virginia (57%); Florida (64%) and California (68%) come in at the middle; at the high end are New Jersey (89%) and Pennsylvania (91%). 

Handing out Candy 

Of course, for children to be able to go trick-or-treating, households need to be willing to actually hand out candy. 

Last year, about 42% of the surveyed 1,375 respondents handed out Halloween candy. This year, only 30% plan on handing out candy in one form or another, although the percentage of people personally handing out candy will drop from 77% to 64%. Instead, about a third of respondents plan to leave a bowl of candy out, signifying a 12 percentage point jump compared to last year. 

Nearly a quarter are still unsure whether they will be handing out candy, which is to be expected given rapidly changing coronavirus rules and regulations. 

Some respondents also had other creative ideas for handing out candy. One respondent from New Jersey, remarking on how her children are going to miss trick-or-treating this year, said her family will dress up, prepare individually-packed Halloween treat bags, and drop them off to neighbors who also have children. Another respondent from Florida plans to individually bag sanitized candies and supervise their pick up from a safe distance.


With canceled summer vacations and online learning stretching into a second school year for many children, Halloween will unfortunately also not provide respite from the “new normal.” According to Premise’s research, traditional trick-or-treating will be another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. With creative ideas and ample safety precautions, however, some children may still be able to enjoy some form of trick-or-treating this year.  

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Data Source: Premise Data | Data was collected between October 1-5, 2020 from 1,375 contributors, including 526 parents with children under the age of 13. The overall survey responses allow for a 95% confidence interval with a margin of error of approximately 2.5% based on WorldPop 2020 U.S. human population data.

About Rebecca Abu Sharkh

Rebecca Abu Sharkh is a Solutions Consultant based in San Francisco, California. With a background in global operations and government, at Premise, she serves as a technical and functional subject matter expert on Premise’s operations platform and smartphone app and conducts data collection and analysis.