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Another Halloween Tradition: Trunk-Or-Treat

By Melissa Summers

I swear, I moved literally one mile north and all the activities are different. First we encountered the Halloween Boo, now we’ve discovered the Trunk Or Treat event.

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 loved this event, low stress for the parent volunteers, about an hour of treats and not a single meltdown. Trunk Or Treat events can be large, almost like a school fun fair, with lots of games and prizes, or simpler with members of your group handing out candy from the back of your car. This is the kid-friendly version of tailgating.

The New York Times covered the trend last year, saying many suburban and rural areas are using these events for safety or because of lack of close neighbors to do actual trick-or-treating. I’m a purist, so we’ll still be doing the traditional trick or treat as well, but I can see how great an event like this would be in areas where kids can’t go door to door, like in our old neighborhood where only about a quarter of neighbors were handing out candy.

Here’s an article offering tips for creating your own Trunk or Treat event, but my goodness it looks complicated.

Here are my simplified tips:
– announce your event,
– suggest people decorate their cars,
– give an estimated number of attendees
– ask that every participant bring one bag of candy as a donation
– run your event for an hour
– let the kids run around and get candy.

I decided to park my car and hand out candy at the last minute so I didn’t decorate at all. 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.

Halloween Trunk-Or-Treat

However, next year I’d like to do a little decorating. I loved this set up at Flickr, headstones and fog add some scary music and you’ve got the best set up in the lot. But I also adore what Design Mom’s family did for their Trunk or Treat. A magnetic dartboard in the back of their car. Instead of just giving out candy they had the kids shoot their darts giving out different candy prizes for different rings of the board. She includes directions in her post so next year my van is going to be the talk of the lot.

I can’t wait! Have you ever done a Trunk Or Treat event where you live?

Explore Halloween costumes, crafts, decorations and treats from our archives here.


Melissa Summers
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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  • katrina

    For the lego (sorry, ‘building block’ cake), you could bake a sheet cake like they show, and some cupcakes for the top pegs instead of marshmellows, so you don’t get any kids that are upset that they didn’t get a marshmellow, plus it’l be easier to cut (ever try to slice a marshmellow without squishing it to heck?).
    For the catepillar, you could but the silicone cups with feet like these and skip having to add the licorice feet.

  • My daughter wanted to take my grandson to a trunk-or-treat this year – she thought it would be safer than going around her neighborhood. Sadly, the event was worse than last year at the mall. Not enough cars for the number of children present resulting in long lines and waiting. Also, most did not decorate their cars so it felt kinda bizarre like you were begging from strange people in the Walmart parking lot. Not a repeat activity in my book. Glad your’s was better.