One of the most fun traditions of the fall is Trunk or Treat. The community looks forward to it every year, almost as much as churches do. This year, we have some fun ideas to make sure your Trunk or Treat goes from fun to AWESOME!
Nothing improves the atmosphere more than some good music. Trunk or Treat is no exception. Physically and spiritually, music can hugely change the dynamic. Many Trunk or Treat events are held in parking lots or public spaces. Adding some popular Christian music can help usher in an environment of meaning and unity and set the tone for the “why” your church is doing this. Trunk or Treat may be the only exposure they get to your church all year for many people. What better way to show them what they are missing than playing some family-friendly, quality music by some favorite bands with a faith message? Making a playlist beforehand can make this a simple addition that doesn’t require a lot of extra work and can be hands-off once your event begins. Check out JumpStart3, Yancy, and Go Fish for some popular options.
In most communities, Trunk or Treat is held in the evenings before or during trick-or-treat times. Because of this, it can get dark pretty quickly. Events organized by churches should always be a welcoming, safe place, so it’s a great idea to make sure the space is well lit. If convenient light isn’t available, most communities have mobile light poles available to rent for the evening. Often, companies will even donate the use of the lights and bring along their advertisement, table, and candy. If donated services aren’t available, consider asking various businesses around town to participate and contribute to a portion of the costs for the light. Chances are, if enough businesses participate, the lights will be paid for. The extra participation becomes a bonus that helps ensure the event is well attended, and families feel it is worth the time to come out for the event.
Church Sponsored Candy
If the budget allows, consider purchasing the candy yourself to hand out at the event. This way, you can ensure that the candy is safe, good quality, and something the families are actually going to want to receive. Nothing is worse than wasting two hours of the evening and winding up with a bag full of just tootsie rolls. The reputation of the church should be one of generosity in the community, and something as small as good candy can make or break that with the people that are coming to participate. Bonus: newcomers will want to come to next year’s event once they hear about the good candy their friends got, and that’s more children exposed to the Gospel.
Candy Alternative Prizes
Not all kids can eat candy due to allergies, food sensitivities, and medical issues. Beyond that, parents likely would appreciate some candy alternatives to help fill up those treat bags. But most importantly of all, Trunk or Treat may be the only chance you get to share the Gospel with some families. Why not take that role seriously by giving them something they can use that may make an eternal impact? Various online stores like Amazon, Oriental Trading, and eBay offer affordable items that can be handed out as an alternative. This option gives the children with limitations the opportunity to still participate in a way that is healthy and safe. Being considerate of families with such limitations will go far when it comes to making sure they feel valued and cared for by your church. Some ideas? A mini Bible, a pack of colored pencils or pens, bubbles, or fun coloring books are all things we think kids would like getting in their treat bags!
Invite the Helpers
An often overlooked idea for Trunk or Treat is to invite the helpers of the community. Police cars, ambulances, and firetrucks can elevate your event to the next level. Kids love to investigate these vehicles, and it can be a great way to partner with your local service providers. Establishing good relationships can be invaluable if there is ever an issue. This also initiates an opportunity for people to appreciate their community helpers, meet them personally, and establish their own relationships. Additionally, exposure to a safe and fun environment can help kids to realize that there is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to the helpers in our communities. For many, these community helpers are kids heroes, anyways! What a dream it would be for a small child to see the inside of a real-life fire truck!
Offering treats specifically for the parents is something that families love. Parents often miss out on the best candy, so doing something that makes them feel special can help them understand how much your church cares about them. A small note with a church card invites attached to some favorite candy can translate to visitors down the road. At the very least, it helps parents to know that you are there to support them when they need you. Another idea is a handout that shows all the resources in their community they may need for their child along with their corresponding phone numbers – maybe your church even has these made into a magnet to give out to parents!
A little friendly competition never hurt anyone! Setting up a table at the end of the trunk line can be a fun way to not only engage the visiting families but to encourage the volunteers. Prizes for the most creative, the most popular, the biggest, or the most interactive costumes are a great way to help those that poured into the event to feel recognized. This general feeling of appreciation will help lay the foundation for gathering volunteers for the next year’s event.
An easy and fun way to gather contact information from the families that come to Trunk or Treat can be to offer door prizes. Raffling off something like a gift certificate to the local movie theater or a favorite restaurant is a big motivating factor for families to give you their email addresses. Once you have their contact info, you can send them a thank you email and invite them to church. Periodically you can send invitations for special events or services like Christmas. The key? Don’t spam. The goal is to be helpful, not harassing. Your steady presence will form the background opinion for them. Being seen as a resource and encouragement will make them much more likely to choose your church when they decide they are ready to find one.
Food trucks can be a very nice addition to any community event. Parents are often trying to get the kids out the door after work, right at the dinner hour. Offering a convenient way for them to grab a bite to eat right at your event is a great way to increase attendance. It helps to think like a busy parent, thinking through ways you can serve them through your event. Plus, this allows your church to engage with and support some local food trucks by partnering with them!
Rachael Groll will be planning her next Trunk or Treat event in Meadville, Pa, where she serves her community. You can connect with her at her website http://shehears.org/ where she shares resources to point people to Christ.