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Many families are planning to opt-out of trick-or-treating this Halloween. Luckily, there are dozens of alternatives to going door-to-door—including an activity often called trunk-or-treat. Here’s how it works: Rather than stand by your front door and hand out candy, you drive to a predetermined location and deck out the trunk of your car with as many Halloween decorations as you can. Then instead of going door to door, kids will go from trunk to trunk collecting candy. 

Trunk-or-treating is not a new idea—there are currently more than 334,000 posts tagged #trunkortreat on Instagram—but we’re predicting the trend will be especially popular this year as traditional trick-or-treating has been canceled in several places. 

There are a few reasons trunk-or-treating makes more sense than trick-or-treating this year, especially since the CDC is officially discouraging Halloween parties and traditional trick-or-treating. For starters, the entire event is held outdoors and you can park vehicles with plenty of spacing between. Since you won’t be opening and closing your front door for each set of costumed children, the potential risk of exposure is lower. Plus, you can set a big bowl of candy in your trunk, so you don’t have to physically hand out the candy bars, which also cuts down on person-to-person contact. It's also a good idea to place stickers or chalk markers to the ground to encourage participants to maintain at least six feet of distance. A fun set of removable Halloween decals ($29, Etsy) does the trick and doubles as festive decor. You'll also want to make sure everyone participating wears a mask (like one of these reusable Halloween-theme face masks), even though the event is outdoors. 

And since there will likely be a lot of dark houses in each neighborhood this Halloween, establishing a trunk-or-treat event puts all participating families in one well-lit location. Rather than ring a few doorbells per street, you can collect all your Snickers and Kit Kats in one place. Send out an invite ahead of time to help gauge the number of families participating. 

Of course, the safest thing to do this Halloween is to stay home and do Halloween-theme family activities indoors. But if you do plan to go out and collect candy, trunk-or-treating can be a safer alternative to trick-or-treating. To help inspire your own trunk-or-treat celebration, we’ve rounded up some of the best DIY trunk-decorating kits on the market. So make your kids’ costumes and add the family-size bag of Snickers to your next grocery pick-up order, because this Halloween tradition isn’t going anywhere. 

charlie brown theme car trunk
Credit: Courtesy of Oriental Trading

It's The Great Pumpkin

It's not Halloween until we've gone trick-or-treating and watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. And this year, you can combine these two iconic traditions with this 22-piece decorating set—complete with a 50-inch cutout of Linus and Sally.

Buy It: Peanuts Decorating Kit ($83, Oriental Trading)

frozen theme car trunk
Credit: Courtesy of Party City

Let it Go

If your kids have spent quarantine singing along with Anna and Elsa, deck out your ride with this festive Frozen-theme decorating kit. It includes 15 festive balloons, purple and white streamers, and even an on-theme candy bowl you can set in the trunk of the car. Set it all up and wait for a mini Olaf to come say 'trick-or-treat.'

Buy It: Frozen Decorating Kit ($40, Party City)

car trunk decorated for Halloween
Credit: Courtesy of Oriental Trading Co.

Ghoul Gang

This festive orange and black decorating kit comes with 34 pieces you can use however you like to totally deck out your ride. Hang mummies, monsters, and pumpkins from the top of your trunk and top off the background of streamers and paper fans with an oversized gold banner that reads 'Happy Halloween.'

Buy It: Ghoul Gang Decorating Kit ($50, Oriental Trading Co.)

car trunk decorated in balloons
Credit: Courtesy of Party City

Pumpkin Patch

This year, swap your front porch pumpkins for holographic oversize jack-o'-lantern balloons. Of course, you can still carve a pumpkin or two for your front porch, but these trunk-or-treat decorations don't require scooping any pumpkin guts! This set comes with 55 pieces, so it's great for larger car—or you can split the cost with a friend and use the pieces to decorate both of your trunks.

Buy It: Pumpkin Fun Decorating Kit ($75, Party City)


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