How to Plan a Trunk or Treat

How to plan a Trunk or Treat

One of my most favorite family fun events for the elementary age set of kids is a Trunk or Treat!

The biggest reason why I love it so much is that it is so stinking easy to put on and families absolutely love it!

If you’ve never put on a Trunk or Treat, but are considering having one, this post is for you!

Pick a Date

First, pick a date that isn’t too close to Halloween.

For example, don’t pick the day before Halloween.

That’s just too much for most families to handle.

Choose to go a week or two out ahead of Halloween.

My school has run this event for about 4 years now and we’ve decided to go with a Friday a few weeks before Halloween.

For events that will be outdoors, it’s a good idea to plan in a rain/bad weather date as a safeguard against having to cancel the event entirely.

If you don’t want to bake a rain date into the plan, be sure to let families know that the event will go on as planned, rain or shine!

Pick a Place

Having enough parking is going to be one of the biggest issues for this type of event.

You’ll need space for the decorated cars as well as the families who are just coming to collect candy.

If at all possible, choose a location where there’s a lot of parking space, with a clear division between the decorated cars and everyone else.

This greatly reduces the chances of a kid accidentally getting hit.

Make sure to let families who plan to decorate their cars and pass out candy that they have to stay until the conclusion of the event..

Also plan for these!

You must, must, must have two other things: trash cans and bathroom access!

Get a team of volunteers (or the kids of the volunteers) to clean up the parking lot at the end of the event.

There will be candy wrappers and parts of the car decorations that need to be cleaned up from the area.

If you can get wheeled trash cans, that makes clean up even faster and the kids will enjoy rolling the cans around the collect everything.

Get participants

Make sure to communicate that there are two ways to participate!

One way to participate is to decorate a vehicle and pass out candy.

Need ideas for how to decorate for a Trunk or Treat? I’ve rounded up a slew of ideas on this Pinterest board.

Start recruiting families to decorate cars early on in the year so they have time to come up with their decorating theme.

If parents have enough time, this is no brainer event for them to participate in.

Another way families can participate is to collect candy.

In order to minimize confusion and maximize safety, have the decorating participants come 30 minutes to an hour before the candy collection start time.

Get candy and goodies

Ask families to bring candy to pass out.

Budget some funds to buy extra candy to refill cars and get some volunteers to walk around to pass out the extra candy.

How to ensure the candy that is passed out is safe?

Said plainly, you as in the PTO, cannot take on that responsibility.

PTOs cannot safeguard everything.

Parents really need to be the ones ensuring the candy is ok to eat for their child, from both an allergy stand point and a tampering aspect as well.

Don’t want to do candy?

Cool beans.

Simply, ask family to bring non-candy treats instead.


Even though this is an event that sells itself, you still need to let families know that it’s going on!

This editable flyer template is an easy way to invite all families!

Safety concerns

When we first did this event, there was some concern from the Principal that non-school people would come to the event with nefarious intentions.

To safeguard against that, we called and invited the local police department to let them know about the event and ask them to check in on us that night.

Not only did they send an officer, but she brought treats to hand out as well!

This put a lot of uneasiness to rest and gave the event a nice community feel!

Costume Alternatives for Moms

Get this jack-o-lantern t-shirt for an easy festive, but non-costume option.

I love that this Trunk or Treat shirt isn’t in the traditional black or orange color scheme of typical Halloween themed shirts!

I totally can’t relate to this shirt… how about you?

I love the humor of this shirt!

Over to you!

Have you put on a Trunk or Treat before?

What other tips do you have for making the event successful?

Let me hear from you in the comments!

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Regardless of whether or not I receive a commission, I only recommend products I genuinely love and either have or would purchase myself. I always have my readers’ best interests in mind when making these recommendations!

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