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Trunk – or – Treating: 10 Tips to Help You Plan a Successful Event

The best part about Halloween is the candy, whether it’s helping you get through the scary movie your friend drug you to, the reward you’ll receive once you make it through that never-ending, cheesy haunted house, or the little gift you’ll give yourself after the kids are finally in bed after an evening filled with costumes, bad jokes and sugar highs.

This post was written by GuideOne Connections blog.

Many organizations are now offering members of their communities a safer alternative to the traditional trick-or-treating, an event called Trunk-or-Treating.  During this event, adult members of the organization volunteer to decorate the trunks of their vehicles in Halloween-themed décor and pass out candy or other goodies to the children in their community.  This is a safer alternative because the event is often held in a parking lot, or other well-lit, contained area, and children are at less of a risk of being hit by a vehicle on a dark road.  It also allows families a chance to chat and get to know one another, and is a great way for your organization to get their name out in the community and raise awareness for your cause.

If your organization is considering holding a trunk-or-treat event this year, consider the following:


Have your board members or event volunteer committee discuss how the activity will be organized and what guidelines will need to be followed.  Some items to consider include:

  • Participants – Discuss whether or not anyone in the community can sign up to have a vehicle on-sight, or if only organization members will be allowed to participate in handing out candy.
  • Attendees – Decide who will be invited to your event. Will you allow only organization members and their families? The entire community?  Will there be a fee to participate, or will it be a free event?
  • Date – Will your event be held during regular trick-or-treating hours, or on a different day as to not compete?  Will you hold the event early in the evening to avoid the dark and colder temperatures?
  • Protocol for decorations – Will you allow candles or any other sort of flammable objects?  Will fake blood be allowed?
  • Food safety and allergy concerns – One in 13 children has a food allergy, so this needs to be addressed when you are discussing your event.  Will you allow homemade items to be passed out, or only store-bought, pre-packaged items?  Will you sell food and/or beverages during your event?
  • Building Security – If you are on-site at your facility, decide if the building will be open or locked during the event.  Will participants have access to the restrooms, the entire building or nothing at all?  If the building is open, consider having a volunteer monitor traffic to and from the building.

Once you have determined these guidelines, make sure they are clearly communicated to all who are volunteering and participating in the event.

Safety Concerns During the Event

Once you have your event mapped out, consider safety issues that may arise during the event itself:

Falls – Falls are the number one cause of unintentional injuries on Halloween. While this is more in your control if you are at your own facility, it’s important that the parking lot is safe regardless of who owns it.   Help ensure everyone has a fun time by inspecting the grounds for fall hazards, including parking lot, sidewalks, curbs, grassy areas, potholes, or any other hazard that may be hidden due to dim lighting.  To learn more about potential slips, trips and fall hazards, and preparing your parking lot, review this fact sheet.

Inclement Weather – Have a back-up plan if the weather is not ideal for an outdoor event – snow, rain, extreme cold.  Especially for younger children, Halloween costumes can be thin and not cold or winter weather-friendly.  If possible, have a plan for moving the event indoors if necessary, or schedule a rain date.  Watch the weather, and communicate any event changes as far in advance as possible.

Traffic – The benefit of hosting the event in an enclosed area is that the risk of children running into traffic is much lower.  However, there still will be vehicles moving in and out of the parking lot, as people come and go.  Have a volunteer directing traffic to help ensure there is a flow to vehicles entering and exiting the parking lot.  Also, have a designated walking area for children moving around the parking lot to help keep traffic flow away from that area.

First Aid – Due to the large number of people that will hopefully be attending your event, consider having a volunteer on site that is trained to administer care in the event there is an accident.  Also, have a First Aid kit handy for minor emergencies.

Prevent your Halloween event from feeling more like Fright Night by properly preparing for the activity.  Trunk-or-Treating events can be fun for all ages, and can be a great way for your organization to raise awareness for your cause.  Avoid putting a damper on the evening of fun and sugar by being thoroughly prepared for any issue.