What Is A Trunk Or Treat? Your Complete Guide To Taking Part This Year

Everything you need to know


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This post covers everything you need to know about trunk or treat.

What is a trunk or treat

If you’re puzzled about this weird term you’ve been hearing lately, you aren’t the only one.

‘Trunk or treat’ isn’t exactly new – it started way back in the mid-1900s – but it’s getting more and more popular in recent years. So, if you’re looking to try it out this year, you’re definitely not too late!

Below we share everything you need to know about trunk or treat, plus 5 cool ideas that you can use as inspiration.

What is a trunk or treat?

‘Trunk or treat’, also referred to as ‘trick and trunk’ is a unique alternative to the traditional Halloween trick or treating.

During this activity, those 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.

Instead of going door, kids go car to car, collecting treats, taking photos, and playing games.

What is the purpose of trunk or treat?

Maybe your next question is why do trunk or treating in the first place? What’s wrong with the old-fashioned trick-or-treating? 

Well, here’s why people, particularly parents, love the trunk-or-treat concept:

  • Safety: trunk-or-treat events are believed to be much safer than door-to-door trick-or-treating. This is because they take place in well-lit, supervised spaces and usually have rules and guidelines to keep things under control and family-friendly.
  • Time Efficiency: because trunk or treat events take place in one specific location, families can visit a variety of different trunks in a lot less time compared to walking around a neighborhood.
  • Accessibility: trunk or treat events are great for persons with disabilities or mobility issues since cars are usually parked in a flat open space, without the need to use stairs or uneven sidewalks.
  • Games and Activities: these events put emphasis on the ‘treat’ part of the event by having not just candy and eats, but games and activities too. This makes the event more interactive and fun for the kids and gives them the chance to build friendships with other kids from the area.
  • Community: trunk or treat events help to foster a sense of community, whether it’s with persons from your school, church, or just your good old neighbors.

What items are needed for a trunk or treat?

So, what do you need for trunk or treat? One of the nicest things about these events is that they don’t require much in order to participate. 

Here are ten things you’ll need to take part in your first trunk or treat event:

1. A Vehicle

Of course, you’ll need a vehicle if you plan to take part in the decorating and serving aspect of things (versus just treating). Most people use cars, but you can also get creative with a truck or SUV.

2. Tables

Trunks have limited space, so tables help to give you more room to work with. You can use tables to display more decor or to serve your treats and goodies. 

3. Chairs

Packing chairs is also a good idea so that you and any helpers can sit comfortably while serving.

4. Decorations

Show your festive spirit by decorating your trunk. It doesn’t have to cost much, you can get creative with affordable items like string lights, balloons, and even your home decor.

5. Containers & Boxes

These are useful for keeping your trunk display neat and organized. Use them to hold candy and other goodies. 

6. Candy/ Goodies

There’s no treating without the treats! Be sure to stock up on enough candy, homemade goods, tokens, or any other goodies you think your trunk visitors will enjoy.

7. Game Ideas

What makes trunk or treat events more fun is the fact that treaters get to play games and activities. Be sure to have a couple of fun games (or even magic tricks) up your sleeve to keep your visitors entertained.

8. Hand Sanitizer

Keep things clean and hygienic by offering your visitors hand sanitizer before they interact with your setup.

9. Serving Utensils

In keeping with the theme of hygiene, be sure to avoid handling any food items with your bare hands by using suitable serving utensils.

10. Trash bags & Gloves

Finally, prepare for the aftermath of a great event – trash. Bring along trash bags and gloves to clean up your car and to help tidy up the location as well.

Please note that this is different from what you would need to host a trunk or treat event. If you’re interested in planning and hosting your own trick-or-treat event, click here.

Related: How To Plan A Trunk Or Treat Event Everyone Will Love

Trunk or Treat Inspo

Stumped for ideas? Here’s some trunk-or-treat inspiration to get your creative juices flowing:

1. Jurassic World Themed Trunk

2. Hawain Themed Trunk

Do you dress up for trunk or treat?

Dressing up adds to the festive atmosphere. However, the rules and guidelines about dressing up would vary at each event since it totally depends on who’s hosting it and the culture of the event.

For that reason, It’s best to triple-check the event flyer or contact someone who can give you accurate information about costumes.

For example, a trunk or treat hosted by a church may request that participants avoid dressing like certain characters that do not align with their beliefs.

So be sure to do your research!

If you do decide to dress up, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Support the theme – dressing up in a costume that complements your trunk’s theme or the overall theme of the event (if there is one).
  • Set a good example – especially if you’re participating in a family-friendly event, consider wearing a costume that will set a positive example for the children. Avoid anything overly scary or inappropriate since the goal is to create a positive and fun atmosphere for children and families. This doesn’t mean your costume has to be boring though! Just be creative.
  • Get into character – create a more immersive and enjoyable experience for attendees by interacting with them in a way that aligns with your costume. 
  • Be comfortable – you’ll be in your costume for a while, so for your own comfort be sure that it’s not too tight, breathable and weather-appropriate. 

What is the etiquette for trunk or treat?

Every trunk or treat event will have its own set of guidelines to ensure that everyone has a memorable and enjoyable experience.

Here are some etiquette tips for trunk-or-treat participants and attendees:

Etiquette For Trunk or Treat Participants

1. Put in the effort

Your trunk (or costume) doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. However, nothing says ‘I don’t really care about this’ like a shabby, underwhelming trunk display.

Putting in the effort to create a neat and appealing trunk display shows that you actually want the attendees to have a good time and you respect the people who took the time to organize the event.

2. Bring Enough

Whether it’s candy, tokens, or other goodies, ensure you have enough to distribute to all the children who visit your trunk. Running out of your supply of treats too soon can be disappointing to your visitors.

At the same time, no one expects you to have a never-ending supply. If you’ve already given out all the treats you can afford to buy, be sure to have games and activities that your visitors can enjoy.

3. Be Inclusive

Be welcoming to everyone, particularly every child, regardless of their costumes or backgrounds. NEVER make any negative comments or judgments.

4. Consider Allergies

Provide some allergy-friendly candy options or non-food treats for children with allergies or dietary restrictions.

You can even write a sign letting parents know that your goodies contain nuts (or other common allergens) to avoid any issues later on.

5. Maintain Safety

Keep your trunk area safe and well-lit. Watch out for small children and ensure they don’t trip or fall around your display.

Safety also includes hygiene so be sure to be uber aware of how you handle food. Avoid issues by using utensils and offer hand sanitizer when serving visitors.

6. Have a Pleasant Attitude

Expect a high volume of children, especially at the beginning of the event. Be patient, and approachable, and maintain a friendly attitude as you distribute candy.

7. Follow Event Rules

Adhere to any rules or guidelines provided by the event organizers. This includes rules concerning arrival and departure times, themes, music preferences and volume, clean up, and costumes.

Etiquette For Trunk or Treat Attendees/Visitors

1. Be Respectful

Be respectful of the time, money, and effort every participant put into creating their trunk display. This means you should avoid:

  • comparing trunks in front of the owners, making snide comments, or criticizing their displays. 
  • touching or interfering. If you’re with your kids, ensure that they keep their hands to themselves unless the owner says it’s okay.
  • asking for more candy or tokens than you were given. Participants have a limited amount of goodies and they need to have enough for each visitor. 

2. Wait Your Turn

Form a line or queue to visit trunks. Don’t crowd or rush to a trunk that has a lot of children already there. Go have fun at another trunk until the crowd has cleared up.

3. Say “Thank You”

With all the excitement, it’s sometimes easy to forget those two little words that mean so much. Remind your kids to say “thank you” after receiving candy or treats.

It’s a simple, polite gesture that will definitely be appreciated by the participants.

4. Supervise The Kids

Keep a close eye on your children to ensure they stay safe and follow the event’s rules and etiquette.

Also keep an eye out for any other kids that may be wandering about on their own, darting between cars, or getting into mischief.

5. Clean Up

Make the organizers’ jobs easier by simply disposing of your wrappers and trash properly in the bins provided. 

What is another name for trunk and treat?

Trunk or treat events are also referred to as ‘trick or trunk’, ‘car trunk Halloween’, or ‘Halloween tailgating’.


Trunk-or-treat events are a fun and safe alternative to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating. They’re interactive and easy to participate in. In this post, we covered everything you need to know about trunk or treats, from ‘what is a trunk or treat’ to some easy trunk or treat ideas to get you started.

We hope you found it helpful.

Have fun trunk and treating!