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Instead of Trick-or-Treat, Try Trunk-or-Treat!

Instead of Trick-or-Treat, Try Trunk-or-Treat!

By Melissa Summers

Our last elementary school celebrated Halloween with a PTA-sponsored party in the evening. This party was great fun for the kids with tons of candy, cupcakes, dancing and sugar-related meltdowns. It was perhaps less fun for the parents since it was hot, loud and there were sugar-related meltdowns.

At our new school, the PTA sponsors trunk-or-treat in the parking lot. I love this event — it’s low stress for the parent volunteers, with about an hour of treats and not a single meltdown.

I swear, I moved literally one mile north and all the activities are different. First it was the Halloween Boo, now trunk-or-treat.

Did You Say Trunk-Or-Treat?

Trunk-or-treat was new to me, but it’s been around for about 15 years now. Many suburban and rural areas opt for these events for safety reasons, or because of a lack of close neighbors to do actual trick-or-treating. Trunk-or-treat events can be large, almost like a school fun fair, with lots of games and prizes, or simpler, with adults handing out candy from the back of their cars while the kids run around like crazy people. It’s really just the kid-friendly version of tailgating.

I decided at the last minute to park my car and hand out candy so I didn’t decorate at all. I hadn’t realized how elaborate some of the decorations would be, and I felt a little silly parked next to amazing cars all done up for the event. But as the chairperson for our event pointed out, “You could be giving kids candy out of a burning Pinto and they’d be thrilled.” My car was neither a Pinto nor on fire and the kids seemed pretty happy to take my candy anyway.

However, next year I’d like to do a little decorating. PopSugar has complied some amazing Instagram photos of decorated cars. Some of them don’t even look like cars. I don’t know that I’m that committed, but it’s fun to see.

If you’re interested in planning a trunk-or-treat event for your kids, here are the basic steps you’ll need to follow.

Trunk-or-Treat To Do List

1. Choose a location. You will need plenty of room for the cars that are handing out treats — space them out, so kids can maneuver around easily. You will also need parking for families who come to participate. And if possible, have an area where kids can play because once they get all that sugar in them they will need to run it off. If your event will last past sunset, a well-lighted parking lot is ideal.

2. Set a date and time. Some communities have trunk-or-treat on October 31, but you can choose a different night if that works better for your group. If Halloween falls on a school night, you might want to have your trunk-or-treat the weekend before — that way the kids can eat a million Tootsie Rolls and mini Snickers and not have to show up for school in the morning with a sugar hangover.

3. Plan your events. Trunk-or-treat can be as simple as a group of parents handing out candy from their minivans or as fancy as a street fair. Think about having some simple games and activities, like a ring toss or Simon Says. Or you can do something more elaborate — rent a dunk tank, get a volunteer to paint faces, have a craft area. If you’re expecting enough people, you can also contact a few local food trucks and see if they would be interested in coming out (some may even be willing to donate a portion of their proceeds to your group, if the event is a fundraiser).

4. Advertise! Send flyers home from school, announce the event at church, email the neighborhood association members — do whatever you need to do to reach everyone in your group. Be sure to include any extra fun things you have planned, like costume contests or a Best Decorated Car prize, and information about how people can donate or volunteer.

5. Speaking of donations and volunteers … You’ll need adults with cars to hand out candy, obviously, but you’ll also need extra helpers if you’re going to have games or activities. Recruit some teenagers who have decided that they are too old to trick-or-treat but who secretly still love Halloween. And of course you will need candy. The sponsoring group can provide it, or you can ask each family handing out candy to bring enough for 100 or so kids. If this is a school or church event, you can set up donation spots in the week before the event and ask families to drop off a bag or two (or more) each.

Ready, Set, BOO

The night of your event, you’ll need to do a few last-minute things. Ask anyone planning to hand out candy from their car to come an hour before you’re planning to start, in order to get set up. If possible, park the cars slightly away from each other, so kids actually have to walk around to score treats. Make sure bathrooms are clearly marked, because you will definitely have at least a dozen costumed preschoolers who have to pee. Assign a group of volunteers to do nothing but pick up candy wrappers — this will make clean up so much easier.

And then sit back and watch the fun unroll.

I’m a purist, so we’ll still be doing the traditional trick or treat as well, but I’m excited to add a new angle to our Halloween celebrations. Have you ever done a trunk-or-treat event where you live?

Photo source: Depositphoto/pressmaster

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About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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