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Halloween Trunk-or-Treat: A Safe Way to Celebrate
Organize a Trunk-or-Treat for Your Church or Neighborhood
Tailgate Party for Halloween
It's not to early to start planning a fun Halloween event. Every parent worries about child safety during Halloween; it can be dangerous to knock on the doors of strangers.
In recent years, many churches and communities organize Halloween "Trunk or Treat" events to offer a safe way for kids to enjoy the fun, and a good time for adults, too.
It's easy to hold a Trunk-or-Treat event; all you need are some interested friends and neighbors (who bring their own candy and give-away treats), a bunch of kids dressed in their favorite costumes, and an empty parking lot (which is why it's a favorite of church groups, or at apartment buildings).
In many communities, Trunk-or-Treat events have grown to include hundreds of participants, all of whom spend an entire year waiting for the next Halloween to roll around.
Read on for tips on how you can do this in your own neighborhood.
Why People Love Trunk-or-Treat
What do you think?
Have you ever attended a Trunk-or-Treat event?
How to Hold a Trunk-or-Treat
Here are step-by-step tips for planning a Trunk-or-Treat evening:
- Location: First, locate a good place to hold the event. Church parking lots are great spots (plenty of parking, and generally not used for drive-through short-cuts). Other ideas are neighborhood-friendly shopping centers (they will often block off a space for you, and they'll likely welcome those who might shop before or after the candy is passed out), parking lots at neighborhood recreation spots, apartment complexes and businesses that are closed after 5 p.m.
- Pick a Date: Ideally, you can hold the event on Halloween, but this isn't always possible. Many churches schedule it for a weekend evening just prior to Halloween, when there's no school the next day. Start working on the date well in advance, so you can schedule the parking lot and also to spread the word to the little goblins and their parents.
- Plan What You'll Need: If you're going to include food (see below), make certain you get plenty of paper goods to go around. If there will be an indoor area that needs decorations, recruit some help to string lights or set out Jack-o-Lanterns.
- Spread the Word: Use your neighborhood newsletter, church bulletin, homeowners' website or other vehicles to let people know you'll be holding the event. People will need to know in advance so they can plan to attend on that date, and so they can prepare for any 'extra' attractions you might plan.
- Set the Ground Rules: There aren't really too many rules, but it's a good idea to share a few instructions with those who might come. You'll need to tell them where to park, and how to park. All cars should face away from the area where kids will go from trunk to trunk, to avoid the risk of stepping in front of a car that's moving. Tell families when to arrive, and let them know they can decorate their trunks or the cargo area of their vans and SUVs.
- Decorations: Adults have a great time decorating the back of their vehicles for these events. It's certainly not required (and everyone is welcome, with or without decorations!), but it adds to the fun. If you drop by a parking lot of 'experienced' Trunk-or-Treat goers, you'll see battery-operated lights strung across open hatches, lighted pumpkins, moving gizmos and you'll even hear sound effects!
- Food: Fall weather is perfect for chili cook-offs and other culinary contests, and many church groups combine Trunk-or-Treat with a competition or two. This allows adults who don't have small children to join in the fun. And there's plenty to eat for everyone after the kids go from car to car. If you're at a church or recreation building, you should be able to reserve a place inside for the cook-off entries. In addition to chili, you can have pies, and ice-cream social, cookies or other treats.
- Costume Parade: The kids will enjoy having a costume parade. Have an adult plan a safe path through the outdoor area (or the parade can be indoors, after the candy is distributed). You can have prizes or not; the main idea is to have fun.
- Other Contests: Some groups like to offer prizes for the best decorated car, scariest car, best special effects, etc. Again, this isn't required, and it's all voluntary.
- Music: Depending on where you hold the event, you may want to pipe outdoor music while the kids are gathering their treats, or include music (or haunted house noises) indoors afterward. Maybe you know a live band in your neighborhood that will show up for a set or two?
- Haunted House: If you have the funds, volunteers and enough time (as well as access to the building), you may want to add a haunted house as an indoor attraction. This can make the event more elaborate and time-consuming than your group might wish, but it's something to consider.
- Clean-up: Generally, a group of people that already knows each other will pitch in to help clean up after this type of event. But just to be sure, ask a few people to help gather trash and take it out to the dumpster, and to tour the parking lot looking for candy wrappers after the fun ends. This is especially important if you're the guests of a business or recreation facility for the evening.
- Bring a Camera! You'll be sorry if you don't - especially if your group gets into the spirit of things!
Get the Whole Family Involved for Halloween
Tips for a Successful Trunk-or-Treat
Be sure to have a few responsible adults to watch over the grounds where the cars are parked. This will help avoid the risk of someone driving through the area where children are collecting candy.
If there are cars not participating in the candy giveaway, have them park in another area. If possible, ask them to use separate entrances and exits to avoid traffic problems.
Assign volunteers to work in shifts rather than to be 'on duty' all night. Nobody likes to be the only one working while everyone else is having fun. And eating chili!
Have an "MC" selected to help announce the time of the parade, to remind people it's time to go inside, and to tell everyone the evening is over.
Use the theater trick of dimming the house lights to get people's attention when it's time to leave!
Have fun! These events become longtime traditions, and you'll think of new ideas every year!