Trunk or Treat? Of course, you have heard of trick or treat or trick-or-treating for Halloween, but have you ever attended or been part of a Trunk or Treat event?
I have done both and I will tell you that it is one of the most fun Halloween Party events you will ever attend . . . in a parking lot.
The best part of hosting Trunk or Treat Events is seeing the children have a blast going from one “trunk” to another to discover how creative their community truly can be.
Not to mention, if done right can be a safe and fun alternative to going door-to-door for candy or if you are lucky some great food.
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What is a Trunk or Treat event?
A Trunk or Treat Event is where individuals decorate the trunks of their vehicles to fit a certain theme or idea.
Participants often dress up in costume to fit the theme and hand out candy.
Children walk (or run) to each vehicle trick-or-treating. It’s one of the times they can move around and interact with others more than just playing with their outdoor toys.
Many trunk or treat events also have other fall or Halloween-type activities to compliment the trunk or treat portion.
How to Organize a Trunk or Treat this Halloween
Pick a Date and Time – Trunk or Treat Planning Guide
Consider children’s bedtimes when planning an event that is geared towards children.
Sometimes Halloween falls in the middle of the week, so you want to make sure your start time and end time aren’t too late or you will have a lot of unhappy and fussy children and even more tired parents the next day.
Determine and Reserve a Location for a Certain Amount of Vehicles
Parking Lots are best, but if they are public you will need to get permission from your City through permitting.
Do your research and make sure to get written permission from anyone especially a private parking lot.
Many trunk or treat events use a parking lot at churches or recreation centers.
Nothing is worse than playing dumb when they ask you for a permit and you don’t have one.
Your event could get shut down and nobody wants that – especially the hundreds of children that will go home sad and without Halloween candy.
Finding volunteers can be challenging for any event, but most people love to help events that are community driven.
Many high school curriculums require students to serve a certain amount of community service volunteer hours.
So be sure to contact the local high school and get permission to post a notice on a job board.
Senior’s homes are a great resource too if you are looking for individuals to pass out candy.
There are several companies that are willing to donate candy if you simply ask ahead of time (not the week of).
Some businesses will ask for some type of recognition while others don’t have any expectations and love to give to the community.
If you don’t have any luck finding sponsors for the event (especially a first-time event), then ask the trunk or treat hosts to bring their own candy.
Otherwise, you will need to plan and budget for candy. In that case, always buy bulk if you can.
Recruit Trunk or Treat Hosts
This can be tricky especially for a community that has never heard of such an event.
Google other examples of trunk or treat ideas and show them to potential participants to show them what a decorated trunk can look like.
Seeing is believing and they will be hooked by the potential of what their trunk could look like.
Create a registration form for you to keep up and track how many cars will be at the event.
Ask for their email so you can send them event information that includes set up times and other important details such as Bad Weather Plans, Contact, etc.
Better yet, find a group of friends that are competitive in nature and they will come out in droves to participate with a chance to win or beat their friends in an adult version of “Dress Up” 😂
Also, ask your local Police and Fire Departments to participate.
They love to bring out their vehicles and interact with families.
Recruit Judges for Trunk or Treat Awards
If you are going to give away prizes at the event for different categories to the decorated cars, consider recruiting a few judges to take the pressure off yourself.
Ask individuals who are prominent in the community and can promote the event by word of mouth.
Consider giving away a Grand Prize for the Best Trunk and run a Costume Contest at this Halloween Party event.
Find Activities that Compliment the Trunk or Treat Portion
If you have a budget, consider bringing in these activities or trunk or treat event ideas to create a larger festival feel to attract more attendance (Note: Make sure outside vendors have insurance for their services or activities naming you as the additional insured):
- Petting Zoo
- Superpower Dog Showcases
- Cake Walk
- Bounce Houses and Slides
- Photo Booth Area
- Face Painting
- Outdoor Movies
- Coloring Tables
- Or your own Special Exhibition
Promote, Promote, Promote
Promote the event as a safe and fun alternative to trick-or-treating to the public.
If you don’t have a marketing budget you will have to get creative, but no worries with community events there are several opportunities to get the word out.
Many local newspapers will write about it anyway because it’s such an unique event.
Use social media to promote the event.
Post Trunk or Treat flyers in community bulletin boards in local businesses.
Many will let you do so if the event is FREE.
Host the Event and Have Fun
- Make sure your vendors know when to show up and how much time they have to decorate their trunk on site.
- Give a few hours to give them time to do so.
- Have fun music playing and encourage guests to visit all the trunks.
- Document that all the trunks can stamp and participants can drop off the completed card for a chance to win a prize if they visited all the trunks.
- Have your judges decide on winners for the contest and take photos on site to use for post promotion!
- Have fun and relish in your success!
Post Event Promotion and Recap
Just because the event is over doesn’t mean the promotion has to end.
Publish pictures and announce the winners on social media and other press outlets.
Be sure to announce the date of next year’s event and encourage people to start thinking of their trunk ideas soon.
Hosting a Trunk or Treat for Halloween takes a lot of hard work and dedication but in the end – it’s worth it.
And it was awesome seeing the community come together to produce and enjoy such an event is truly rewarding.
Have you ever attended a trunk or treat event?
If so, what was the funniest trunk you saw?