In years past, Harris and his husband, David Burtka, and their twins, Harper and Gideon, have dressed as "Peter Pan" characters, members of a spooky circus, classic horror villains (Dracula, Frankenstein and crew) and famous artists such as Andy Warhol and Vincent Van Gogh.
But it gets difficult to pull off ornate costumes when the coronavirus limits help from makeup artists and outside resources. Still, Harris teased this year's homegrown version won't disappoint fans, including his 8.4 million Instagram followers.
"I've got a clever idea," Harris, author of recent middle-grade novel "The Magic Misfits: The Fourth Suit," told USA TODAY in a September interview. "I promise it'll be sweet."
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Making Halloween feel alive during a time when celebrating can seem futile is challenging. But Harris reassures his fellow Halloween fans they don't need to give up on spooky season. While the Burtka-Harris crew is staying at their farmhouse on Long Island, New York, they're considering taking part in a masked, socially distanced version of trick-or-treating. Even those who plan to forgo trick-or-treating can find ways to get their spook on this year.
"I sure don't think Halloween needs to be a holiday where you have to go out in order to enjoy it," he says. "I decorate our house as if it's Christmas, but Halloween-style. So I would suggest a lot of that: interior décor. You get to use the month of October to make the curtains look ratty and play with dry ice and carve pumpkins."
Downplaying trick-or-treating this year could even have its upsides. Now, parents don't have to contrive a scheme to keep their kids from eating too much candy in one day.
"We spend the rest of the year telling the kids they need to only eat a little bit of candy when the occasion allows for it, and then on this one day, they're given just bags of candy, as much candy as they can fit into whatever basket thing they're holding," Harris says. "So what are you supposed to say? One piece per day? Is there some trick that I'm missing?"
For other stay-at-home Halloween plans, Harris suggests making fun treats together. Burtka, an actor and professional chef, recently started making a dessert Harris says is to die for: Rice Krispies treats with chopped pieces of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Just add pumpkin-shaped cookie cutters for a bewitching twist.
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And there are always Halloween movies. While Harris is partial to the classic "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," Harper has taken a liking to scary movies, though her parents are being selective about which ones the newly 10-year-old is allowed to watch. So far, she has watched and loved "Poltergeist" and "A Quiet Place."
"It's such a well-crafted movie, what John Krasinski did as actor and writer and director of it all," Harris says of the latter. "It's not just jump-out-and-scare-you spooky, but it's still spooky and scary in just the right way. So Harper really enjoyed it. She felt very mature for getting through it."
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Maybe Harris will find his way into a Halloween movie of his own soon. The self-proclaimed "Haunted Mansion" enthusiast (he collects ride memorabilia, including one of the original stretching room portraits) heard about reports that Disney is developing a new live-action movie based on the Disney parks ride, and he wants in.
"Now that's pretty much all I want to do in my life," he said. "I'll do craft services, if they need one."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Halloween: What costumes will Neil Patrick Harris and his family wear?