Trunk or Treat

skeleton in car

The idea of trunk-or-treating for Halloween was embraced by many churches as a safe alternative to trick-or-treating.

Not only that, it became an important social event for families with small children in the community. Years later, trunk-or-treating is popular with clubs and schools too. It caught on and it caught on big.

So what exactly is a Trunk or Treat? It’s an organized event in a parking lot where people gather their vehicles for the purpose of handing out candy to youngsters from their trunks. It’s sort of like a tailgating party, only you dress up and hand out candy and treats instead of burgers and brats. You can bring a car, SUV, truck, or even a motorcycle! It’s very entertaining for children and adults. Read on and you'll see why.


For maximum turnout and success, serious planning needs to begin early, no later than July or August. It should be a group effort so have a planning meeting and designate duties. Here is when you decide the when and the where. Have a backup plan in case of inclement weather. Details such as an alternate party location and activities should be discussed and arrangements made.

Themes & Decorations

Whether you’re planning a Trunk or Treat or just attending, decorations are a huge part of the fun. Often, a theme is assigned for décor and costumes, and each car is responsible for their own. Church themes can be christian or bible but many are simply "non-evil" related themes such as western, cartoon, sports, and other themes that won’t scare the little ones.

You can easily decorate with pumpkins, gourds, scarecrows and other items related to the theme. It’s amazing how creative things get when all you have to decorate around is your car or truck! Some people also bring a canopy and others bring a pickup truck, complete with bales of hay to sit on. Just watch out for the spider webs and spiders!


You could have a Trunk-or-Treat for the sole purpose of handing out candy but it will be a real Halloween party if you add some fun activities and games. If your church or club is fundraising, ask local businesses if they can donate items for a raffle drawing to be held the night of the party. Tickets can be sold beforehand and during the Trunk-or-Treat. Need not be present to win but if you are, an extra prize can be awarded.

Other ideas for activities are face painting, pumpkin decorating & giveaway, bobbing for apples, or ring toss. How about good, ole traditional costume contests for kids and the adults that dare dress up? Categories can be divided by age groups and healthy treats awarded as prizes.


Set up a vehicle or small kiosk to serve as a concession stand for refreshments. You don’t have to offer anything elaborate, but something such as hot dogs or sloppy joes and chips will serve as supper for those on the go. Consider making a few things listed on our Halloween recipes page for seasonal treats. If you’re a church, school, or charity, you can set up a donation box to help cover the expenses.

Bring along blankets, lawn chairs, and a source for lighting after dark. You’ll be glad you did! Maybe even a little bit of spooky music to set the atmosphere. Also take pictures of the creative decorations and little ones in costumes. Don’t forget to have a cleanup crew because as careful as everyone is, there will still be some litter to pick up.