What Is Trunk or Treat?
What is Trunk or Treating (or Trick or Trunking, if you prefer)?
For kids' enjoyment, adults decorate the back of their cars for Halloween, load up on candy, and come sit in a parking lot for kids to "trick or treat" from car to car. It's more fun than it sounds, trust me! Kids come in hundreds, fully dressed in Halloween costumes and holding out bags or plastic pumpkins for treats. The adults get to socialize and be creative while seeing all the cute and scary costumes.
How Trunk or Treat Works
- About a month beforehand, the host of the trunk or treat event will start collecting volunteers. Sometimes the parking spaces are limited, so be sure to get in on the fun as quickly as possible!
- While the volunteers are buying candy and planning decorations in preparation for this Halloween fun, the host will possibly be sending around a sign-up sheet at the location (such as a church or school) where it's being held or online so anyone in the area can join. Trunk or treat is often an RSVP event for the kids -- that way there's no risk of running out of candy as the volunteers will know approximately how many trick-or-treaters to expect.
- When the big night comes the cars are given specific spots to line up in, separate from the attendee parking lot. They will form an area through which the kids can safely run around and beg for candy. Some of the car decorations and displays can be quite elaborate, requiring hours of setup time in advance.
- When the kids arrive, the real fun begins. They'll usually be told to go in a certain order and they'll say "trick or treat!" and collect their candy, just like at houses on Halloween night. Most cars give out more than one piece so the children end up with a pretty good haul of Halloween candy, though of course the amount and style of candy will vary from event to event. And the parents get to steal a few pieces, of course!
Where to Find a Trunk or Treat Event
Check out your local school websites and your town's newspaper, for starters. Trunk or treat is a popular activity for elementary schools to host for their own students. A lot of churches get in on the fun too and their trunk or treat is generally open to the public. And of course community centers are a likely place to find this new form of trick-or-treating, sometimes offered as a safer alternative to the traditional free-for-all in the streets.
While trunk or treat events are normally no cost to attend, be sure to check ahead of time. If it functions as a fundraiser or is hosted by a non-profit cause then there may be a donation item or small ticket purchase required.
Does Trunk or Treating Replace "Real" Trick or Treating?
Many people assume trunk or treating takes place on Halloween night; that it only exists as a bit of a buzzkill to kids racing through the neighborhood, trying to scoop up as much candy as possible in one glorious evening. This isn't necessarily true! You can still be a fan of the original way to trick or treat while participating in a trunk or treat event.
Some parents and community members do feel that trunk or treating is safer than going house to house and collecting candy from strangers. If you live where traditional trick or treating just isn't safe or where it's impractical (such as in a town of far-spread homes), this really works great as a trick or treating alternative.
But otherwise why make it an "instead"? There's always plenty of room in the world for Halloween celebrations! Trunk or treating is no exception and can occur any night leading up to Halloween - or even during the daytime. In fact it's often held a week or so before the 31st, letting kids get two times the fun.
Trunk or Treat Decorating Ideas
This is the fun for the adults! If you have no yard, a small yard, or have already filled your yard to the street with Halloween decorations then this is a brand new opportunity to add more festivity to the world. You have to get creative, since it's such a small space to work with, but the results can be adorable or spooky. Here are a few quick trunk or treat ideas:
- Pick a theme! Spiders? Mummies? Monsters?
- Bring in balloons for a creepy clown circus or a monster bash!
- Take advantage of your car's CD player and play scary sounds or Halloween songs like "Monster Mash" at this year's trunk or treat event.
- If you have inflatable Halloween decorations, check to see if the property can accommodate you plugging in to an outlet. You may be able to power them up and place them in front of your car's trunk for an instant effect.
- String cobwebs down from the trunk! You can create or buy a giant spider decoration and place it on top of your car.
- Stick a skeleton in the driver's seat and have it waving to people walking by, or press a scary mask up against the window to look out on the kids.
- Don't forget the ground around your car! Presumably you'll have a little extra space to move around your car as well as a spot near your trunk to sit while passing out candy. There may be space to stand a creepy creature of some sort or stage a spooky scene.
Besides décor (and of course, candy!), you may wish to bring along the following:
- Water to drink. It can be a long night!
- A fog machine to add atmosphere.
- Balloons to draw attention to your car.
- A costume for yourself!
- A blanket or sweater. It can get pretty chilly just sitting still in late October.
- A friend, spouse, or family member. You're welcome to try to set up a trunk or treat scene on your own, but between décor and handing out candy, you're liable to want some help!
Check ahead of time as there may be a prize (or at least honor and glory) for the best trunk or treat decorations! It may be a gift card to a local restaurant, a small cash amount, or even something specific to the location - as an example, an elementary school in Michigan awarded a reserved parking space at future events to the best decorated trunk. There may be judges or it may be voting done by the kids after they've visited each car and gotten their candy. Of course children may be more influenced by high quality sweets than the decorations themselves! So keep in mind that even if you're in a competition, trunk or treat is ultimately about Halloween fun for all involved.
Packing up from trunk or treat is easy to do, much more so than setting up. You just pick up and pile up in your trunk or truck bed, saving the organizing and storage for home. Consider giving leftover candy or balloons to straggling 'trunk-or-treaters'. It's less for you to carry home!
Most trunk or treat events will have refreshments such as water bottles handed out to volunteers, or cider and donuts available - best not to wait for the end to get your hands on these treats though or risk them all being eaten up by child hands and mouths!