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What Is Trunk or Treat?

Updated on September 30, 2017
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Amanda is a huge Halloween fan! Every October she spends her time building monsters and planning family-friendly fun for the season.

Turn your trunk into a monster mouth for Trunk or Treat!
Turn your trunk into a monster mouth for Trunk or Treat! | Source

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 get creative while seeing all the cute and scary costumes.

How Trunk or Treat Works

  1. 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!
  2. As 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. 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 how many trick-or-treaters to expect.
  3. When the big night comes, you'll want to arrive an hour early -- more or less, depending on how elaborate your car's Halloween decorative display is going to be. The cars are given a specific spot to park in so that the trunks all form a line or an alley. Easy access to candy for kids!
  4. When the kids arrive, the fun begins. They'll 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. And the parents get to steal a few pieces, of course!

Another Trunk or Treat idea: set up a graveyard around and in your car.
Another Trunk or Treat idea: set up a graveyard around and in your car. | Source

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 a "ticket" will be required, which will likely cost $2-5.


When Is Trunk or Treat?

Many people assume trunk or treat is on Halloween night itself and that it replaces "real" trick or treating. Some parents and community members do feel this 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.

Personally, I'm a fan of the original, classic trick or treating in the dark, in the neighborhood, running to each house. But why make it an "instead"? Trunk or treating doesn't just work on Halloween night, of course! Often it's held a week or so before, letting kids get two times the trick or treating fun.

A Halloween blow-up haunted mansion archway placed in front of the trunk was the kids' favorite at this Trunk or Treat!
A Halloween blow-up haunted mansion archway placed in front of the trunk was the kids' favorite at this Trunk or Treat!
Create a Halloween party in your car with balloons, lights, and party hats for all the monsters!
Create a Halloween party in your car with balloons, lights, and party hats for all the monsters!

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 festive Halloween looks 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 trunk or treat ideas:

  • Try picking 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 Halloween blow-up decorations then, if the community building you are located at allows it, 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.

Supplies

Besides décor, you may wish to bring along to trunk or treat 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 trunk on your own, but between décor and handing out candy, you're liable to want some help!

Contest

Often there will be a contest at trunk or treat for best decorations. A prize is generally given, usually a gift card, for the most popular decorated car. Generally the kids get to vote after they've gone around and gotten their candy, so be sure to give them reason to pick you as #1!

This adult dressed up as Jason Voorhees for Halloween and became a prop in his Trunk or Treat display.
This adult dressed up as Jason Voorhees for Halloween and became a prop in his Trunk or Treat display.

The End

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!

Have you ever participated in a Trunk or Treat?

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    • Amanda108 profile image
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      Amanda 5 years ago from Michigan, United States

      Thanks so much for the link!

    • crissytsu profile image

      crissytsu 5 years ago from Texas

      We do this at my church every Halloween. The kids love it. I'm gonna add this as a link to one of my Halloween hubs. Voted up.