COVID Halloween Take 2: Celebrating Safely During the Ongoing Pandemic

The wind whistles in the night. Fallen leaves make scratching sounds as they flutter along the sidewalk. The moon casts an eerie light on the world beneath it, and ghosts, scarecrows, and skeletons sway in the breeze.

Halloween is the best, isn’t it? … As long as visions of demons don’t dance in your head.

Michigan homeowners look forward to decorating their homes, trick-or-treating, and going to those haunted houses and hayrides all year long.

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2019 survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, total spending for Halloween was expected to reach $8.8 billion, with $2.7 billion of that for decorations. Among those celebrating the holiday, 49 percent planned to decorate their home or yard.

Despite COVID-related restrictions for Halloween 2020, homeowners found innovative ways to decorate their homes and celebrate with their friends and neighbors outdoors. In some ways, it was one of the most memorable Halloweens yet here in Michigan.

Did you have such a blast last year that you want the trend to continue? Are you looking for unique ideas to keep the spirit alive? Don’t forget about these inspirational innovations:

  • Outdoor Halloween Tents: Celebrate safely outside, and play Halloween music softly in the background to contribute to the aura of the night.

  • Candy Chutes: Last year, Michigan homeowners created 6-foot or more long chutes to slide treats down to trick-or-treaters. Ironically, the fun social distancing technique made trick-or-treating even more of a treat.

  • Goodie Tables: Up and down the block, homeowners set up outdoor tables with treat bags and loose candy, allowing passersby to pick up what they wanted and head on their way.

    But that’s not what happened. What did happen was even better. People stayed and mingled with each other, creating a greater sense of community.

    That’s an especially smart idea for apartment communities, so you can get out, get to know your neighbors, and maybe make a new friend or two. … Or you can kindly scare them away if you prefer. It doesn’t make a difference to us. You do you.

  • Masks with a Purpose: Kill two monsters with one stone. Remember to mask up, especially if you’re not vaccinated or plan to party indoors. Make your mask a part of your costume, and there are so many ways to do so. The teeth of a skeleton? The creepy smile of a jack-o-lantern? Funny faces? With a little imagination and inspiration, a simple COVID mask may be all you need this year.

  • Trunk-or-Treat: It’s nothing new, but trunk-or-treat took on a greater role last Halloween. Tailgating meets trick-or-treating? Yes, please!

Whether it’s in front of your building, in your apartment, at a local hayride, in a haunted house, or out of the trunk of your car, Halloween is what you make it. So make it creative, fun, and, most important of all, safe.

Happy Halloween, Everyone!

Living with Roommates: How to Keep the Peace

We’ve all seen the sitcoms, where the characters have one argument after another as a result of someone in the household not living up to their responsibilities. It’s funny on TV, but not so much in real life.

Dishes left unwashed, late rent payments, and loud late-night conversations are only a few of the many issues that can make your living arrangement less than harmonious.

Of course, having roommates has many benefits, including companionship and smart money management.

The key is to lay out each resident’s preferences, duties, and compromises in advance. Setting ground rules will help you establish a more positive framework.

We’re not talking anything as extensive and unbendable as Sheldon’s Roommate Agreement here, but maybe the Big Bang Theory character’s quirks can serve as inspiration — on a much smaller level.

Before you move in together or accept a new roommate, sit down and have a long discussion about the following issues, along with any other unique concerns you may have.

  1. Talk about work, sleep, and showering schedules. If Roommate Adam works the night shift, Roommate Barbara might have to be careful not to make excessive noise during the day when Adam is trying to sleep, for example. This is going to be important, as it will determine your compatibility, as well as which level your ideal apartment will be.

  2. Determine how you will divide the rent and utility bills, as well as who will be responsible for giving the payment to the apartment community manager.

    How utility bills are paid can be somewhat tricky. For example, one person might work from home and therefore use more electricity and internet. You may wish to divide the payment fairly.

    However, to make life more copacetic, it may be easier to simply divide everything up evenly regardless of how things are used. Becoming hyper-focused on the little details will definitely get complicated, but this issue is something the two of you should agree on before you move in.

  3. Discuss meal preparation, as well as grocery and toiletry shopping. Figure out how you will pay, who will ensure that products in the home have not expired, who will do the cooking, and so on. In some cases, you will both prefer to eat out on a regular basis, but what about the basics like snacks, water, hand soap, and first-aid items?

  4. Divide up the chores fairly. You may wish to alternate by day, such as by saying Adam will wash the dishes on Mondays and Barbara will wash them on Tuesdays.

    An easier method would be determining which one of you will complete certain chores. Adam may like to take out the trash, while Barbara would prefer to vacuum the carpet, for example.

    Another option may even be that one person is responsible for a majority of the chores, but the other pays more of the rent.

    It doesn’t matter how you divide up the chores, as long as you do it equitably and reasonably.

  5. Talk about each other’s personal preferences regarding privacy. Will you both come and go freely? Or will you check in with each other if you’re going to be out for the night or a week?

  6. Make sure you are compatible regarding visitors. Do you both like to have people visit regularly? Are you both OK with walking in and finding visitors in your apartment? Or will you discuss visitors beforehand? It may even be the opposite situation, where you would prefer a relaxed, quiet living arrangement. Whatever the case may be, you should both be on the same page regarding visitors.

  7. Talk about what will be off limits, such as toiletries and living space. Ideally, each of you would have a bedroom, for example, so you should avoid going into each other’s bedrooms without permission.

In addition to gathering a miniature roommate agreement, you may wish to download helpful apps on your phone, such as Venmo. Through this app, you can pay each other for rent, groceries, utility bills, and so on.

Finally, one of the best ways to maintain harmony among roommates is to be somewhat flexible. If one of you skips a chore one time in a month, go ahead and do it for them, for example. Creating a harmonious roommate relationship, or any relationship for that matter, requires some give and take.

As long as you both give as well as take, everything should be fine.