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Welcome to your complete guide on how to plan a trunk or treat event that people will remember for years.
Planning and hosting a trunk or treat event can be just as fun and rewarding as attending one. After all, you (and your team) are in control, so it can be as unique, fun, or spooky as your heart desires.
In this post, we’ll cover every step to planning and hosting a successful trunk or treat event, from picking the best location to tackling the aftermath.
Plus, we’ll share 8 bonus tips to consider.
- What is a trunk or treat?
- How to plan a trunk or treat event
- 8 Bonus tips for having a successful trunk or treat event
What is a trunk or treat?
Before we get into the good stuff, let’s start with the very basics — what even is a trunk or treat?
A trunk or treat (or ‘trick and trunk’) is a unique alternative to the traditional Halloween trick or treating which involves participants decorating the trunks of the vehicles.
During this activity, vehicles gather in a parking lot or other suitable area, pop open their nicely decorated trunks, and then offer candy and other goodies to the treaters.
How to plan a trunk or treat event
1. Select your target audience
Step number one is an absolute must. No ifs, ands, or buts.
This is because the audience you choose affects nearly every decision that you’ll make later on.
For instance, if your audience is pint-sized candy enthusiasts, a.k.a kids, you’ll want your trunk or treat to take place at reasonable hours with clear rules for costumes and music, and treats and activities that kids will enjoy.
On the other hand, a trunk or treat event for adults can go on all night, costume guidelines can become more of a suggestion, and you can serve more adult-appropriate treats.
2. Pick a date and time
Once you’re crystal clear on who you’d want to attend your trunk or treat, it’s time to pick the date and time.
Consider whether your event will be better attended on a weekend or weekday and what time would be most convenient for your guests.
For instance, starting a trunk or treat for kids during school (or work) hours on a weekday isn’t the best idea if you actually want people to show up. However, those same hours may work perfectly on the weekend.
P.S. Don’t forget to consider what the weather is likely to be on the date you choose. Heavy rain can quickly ruin trunk displays, soak through costumes and pretty much ruin your event. No one likes soggy candy!
3. Find the perfect location
Next up: finding and booking a suitable venue.
This step should follow your date and time decision since you’ll likely need to provide this information when seeking permission to use a certain venue.
Prime spots for trunk or treats include school parking lots, church grounds, library perimeters, mall expanses, community center domains, serene park settings, or even a closed-off street.
Not sure where to choose? Here are some pointers for picking an ideal spot:
- For obvious safety reasons, the location should be a well-lit, open area, that is not too busy with traffic nor too isolated
- The venue should be big enough to accommodate all the vehicles of participants
- There should be at least two bathrooms (or port-o-potties) available on-site
- You’d also want easy access to power outlets if you’re planning to bring your own lights or set up an audio system
4. Craft a registration form
Crafting an online registration form can be a sanity-saver.
It helps to keep track of the number of interested persons and their contact information. Plus it’s a great way to learn more about who’s coming so you can better cater to their needs.
For example, you can ask for the names and age ranges of each child attending, the names and contact info of accompanying parent(s)/guardian(s), any allergies or mobility issues, and an emergency contact.
Your registration form should also stop accepting responses after a certain date (or after a number of persons have registered) so you can control how many people show up to your event.
5. Spread the word
Now, we get to the fun part – letting people know about your event! Design an eye-catching flyer detailing everything a prospective participant would want to know.
- Arrival time
- Contact details
- Costume guidelines
- Trunk decor guidelines
- QR Code/ Link to your registration form
Go the extra mile by having both printed and digital copies of your flyer so you can reach the widest range of people possible. (Unless you’d like it to be a small, close-knit occasion).
6. Organize the sound system
A microphone and speakers are essential if you plan to do group activities, make announcements, or play music.
Depending on the venue, you may have access to an existing sound system, especially if you’re on the premises of a church or school.
7. Plan activities & prizes
It’s not a trunk or treat without activities. These help to keep your trunk-or-treat event fun and help attendees interact with one another. If you’d like to host a trunk or treat for kids, be sure to have some activities for the grownups too!
It’s also a great idea to have some friendly competition! Offer prizes for the best-decorated trunk, costume, and other categories to encourage attendees to go all out.
TIP: You may want to add these categories to your flyer so guests can come prepared to win.
8. Plan food
It’s also not a trunk or treat without some good food. If you’re raising funds, you may want to have food and drinks on sale. Otherwise, you can go potluck style and ask volunteers to make a contribution. Whichever you choose, just be sure everyone follows good food safety practices to keep tummy trouble at bay and the bathroom lines short.
9. Clean up
Last, but certainly not least, prepare to spend at least an hour cleaning up your location before you head home. Littering is strictly forbidden — leaving trash behind can prevent you from using the location in the future and tarnish your reputation.100% guaranteed.
Bringing along cleaning supplies like trash bags, gloves, rakes, and even a hose can help make clean-up as quick and painless as possible.
8 Bonus tips for having a successful trunk or treat event
Here are 8 helpful tips to consider if you want to plan and host a trunk or treat event.
1. Form a team
having a team can save you from the perils of event planning. With a good team (emphasis on good), you can delegate tasks and ensure that everything is done at the right time.
2. Start early
Nothing makes event planning more stressful than doing things at the last minute. Avoid this by starting your planning early, at least 2 months before October rolls around.
This doesn’t mean you can start planning later and still have a great event, but there’s a much higher chance of being overwhelmed.
3. Seek sponsors
Seeking sponsorship is a great way to have a successful event. Local businesses and organizations can provide funds, tokens, refreshments, and more in exchange for some form of recognition at your event. They’ll benefit from improved neighborhood cred while you’ll benefit from free goods. It’s a win-win!
4. Go online
If you want trunk or treat to be a grand event, don’t be shy about sharing your flyer online, especially in local Facebook groups. Ads may cost you, but they can work magic in boosting your event’s presence. Just make sure you have enough space and treats to handle the crowd.
5. Requests RSVPs
In keeping with tip number 4, we really recommend you ask persons to confirm their attendance a couple of days or weeks before the event. This will gauge attendance and prepare accordingly. And is your protective ward against running out of supplies.
6. Have rules
Rules can seem lame and restrictive, but they can prevent your trunk or treat event from dissolving into total chaos. Don’t be afraid to set and share clear rules whether they revolve around costumes, treats, interactions, littering, arrival times, or musical spells.
Not sure what to say? Complete this sentence as much as you’d like for some ideas:
‘It would totally suck if someone _________ at my trunk or treat event.’
7. Have a dedicated clean-up crew
This is so important. You see, it’s not enough to simply know you need to clean up after the event.
When the dreaded hour rolls around and everyone is tired, you’ll probably hear a bunch of excuses and may end up cleaning all on your own.
Avoid this by assembling a clean-up crew way before the event takes place. Sure, volunteers can always chime in if they’d like, but having a dedicated team ensures that the cleaning actually gets done.
8. Say Thank You
Never underestimate the power of a heartfelt “thank you.”
Don’t forget to express gratitude to those who showed up, cleaned up, and everyone else who contributed to making your event a success. This is a simple gesture that goes a long way.
It’ll help to nurture relationships and virtually guarantees a wave of goodwill that’ll set the stage for another great event next year.
And there you have it! Everything you need to know on how to plan a trunk or treat people everyone will be talking about (in a good way).
Feel free to share any tips you may have in the comments and happy trunk-or-treating!