Trunk or Treat? Truly a Treat.
When I first heard of a Trunk-or-Treat event, I’ll admit that I was a bit skeeved out by the thought of the children in our neighborhood getting their Halloween candies from the backs of people’s cars … especially knowing how dirty a car trunk can get! And that was my mindset pre-kids, so you can imagine how I felt when I’d think about my precious babies toddling up to who knows what in a dimly lit church parking lot.
Flash forward four or five years and we not only took our daughter to the local church’s Trunk or Treat, but also had our car parked in the lot and decorated to participate in the event!
We are new to the area and have found the nearby Methodist church to be a nice place to go on Sundays (I love the laid back feeling and non-intrusive nature of the members, particularly when I have tears streaming down my face during almost every service at some point). Not to mention that it provides a little educational/social time for our rambunctious 4 year old during Sunday school.
I still consider myself much more spiritual than religious, but want my kiddo to have some sort of foundation on which to build her own ideals just as I did growing up. And hey, every religion in the world practices the “Golden Rule” and believes in the same basic tenants to be decent human beings … I consider that a very good place to start indeed!
But I digress – Trunk or Treat. What is it and why am I suddenly doing a 180?
There are those who will argue the psychological benefits of walking around a neighborhood, knocking on doors, and having an exchange with another person in the traditional manner. But for someone who prefers not to hear incessant whining from my child (“my knees are tired!”) after only a short walk, I’m seriously considering doing Trunk or Treat every year as our main Halloween trick-or-treating outing … at least until she’s a bit older.
I’m a millennial on the cusp of being a Gen Xer, so, like many my age, I’ve conjured up countless scenarios in my head about my child being snatched up (thanks Facebook news feed for all of those videos and stories!) and am extra watchful and concerned about safety. But I find that Halloween is, somewhat ironically, the ONE time of year I ease up and am not as paranoid of the folks I walk by in the moonlight. (Go figure – folks wearing masks and costumes to conceal their true identities is probably when I should have the most heightened senses, but nostalgia of playing outside unsupervised and running a muck somehow wins out!)
I’ve seen countless parenting forums debating the tactfulness and/or safety concerns of the more recent trend of toting a small cooler of beer around in a wagon while the kids run house to house (the wagon doubling as a mode of transportation when they get tired), which I admit I have done and enjoyed … just as I appreciate those who offer an “adult treat” at their doors.
Back to Trunk or Treat though … Quite simply, it’s awesome. And for those with little ones, it’s the
exact opposite from my initial reaction years ago. While the church’s Facebook boasted having 500 people in attendance, it didn’t feel mobbed in the least. In fact, the “lines” for hot dogs, snacks, drinks, and samples of the chili to be judged in a competition moved effortlessly, and the activities and games for the kids were age appropriate and let them have a chance to get a few extra treats. It truly felt more like a party or barbeque in a friend’s backyard than a formal community event!
Many of the adults got into it by dressing in costume while the trunk of each car had a theme. (Ours was a teal and orange color theme, courtesy of a
gorgeous Pinterest picture I’d found a few months ago so that we could support the Teal Pumpkin Project and provide goodies for kids who have food allergies.) I was impressed by how creative folks got with their themes and wasn’t at all surprised when they judged the trunks and announced that an elaborate pirate ship had won first place. (My personal favorite was the Starbucks drive-thru with a “Bearista” at the window, which my husband said would attract a long line of adults if they were serving coffee rather than candy.)
To create my trunk-scape, I went to Party City, Dollar Tree, Five Below, the
usual craft stores, as well as a few grocery stores and picked up two teal pumpkins and as many inexpensive teal and orange things as I could find, along with allergy friendly candy (two mom friends with kiddos who have allergies approved of Dum Dums and Air Heads), tiny toys, erasers, stickers, etc.
I didn’t have a master plan of any sort – only the inspiration picture to go by. I got creative and grabbed some glitter paper at CVS and cardstock at Michael’s to make purple bats to add another pop of color and just took all of my supplies (packaging tape, scissors, marker, fishing line, hole punch, and pens) with me to the church parking lot and assembled it all on the fly with the hubby’s help. I must say, it wasn’t necessarily a “Pinterest fail,” but it certainly wasn’t as Martha Stewart as I’d hoped either … all things considered though, it was still pretty darned good in the end.
Of course, the children in attendance at a Trunk or Treat are only there for one thing … the candy! But even the flow of foot traffic going car to car was well orchestrated. Sure, I saw a handful of teenagers come through several times and greedily snag a few handfuls of lollipops from my trunk as they giggled and acted like they were getting away with something far more devious. But for the most part, it was families and very polite, well-behaved kids in a wide range of costumes. I’d gone a bit overboard with the non-candy trinkets I’d purchased and was urging kids to take several toys and lollipops when they got to our car, but most were shy and only took one item for their bucket or bag.
Let me just say that the stress of waiting for the inevitable knocking on my door (and let’s be honest, sometimes rude and noisy banging and yelling for the 12+ age group … at least, back in Bucks County) was GONE as I stood next to and/or leaned against the side of my car and ushered the steady stream of children to my trunk and onto the next vehicle.
A few parents of kids with allergies even made a point to thank me for doing what I’d done that night! I certainly wasn’t looking for praise when I decided to do this allergy friendly theme. However, as I’d planned what I would do to decorate in the weeks leading up to Trunk or Treat, I vowed that I’d have a teal pumpkin out and a batch of non-candy items handy EVERY year from here on out to include those who can’t enjoy a peanut buttery or gooey chocolate candy bar like their peers.
Now a few weeks after Halloween, I gaze into my daughter’s plastic pumpkin and think, “wow, that’s a LOT of lollipops!” (With my teeth, I avoid Dum Dums and hard candy like crazy, so this year there’s not as much temptation as in years past when she’s had oodles of chocolate goodies that I’d squirrel away when she wasn’t looking – so at least there’s a “health benefit” for me this year. Ha!)
I think of all the fun we had trying to find small trinkets (in bulk, whenever possible) on the cheap and wouldn’t trade those silly moments with my sassy little lady for the world. Being able to provide something fun that could have multiple uses was actually a joy to shop for, and I hope the kids enjoyed what they chose out of my goodie bowls all as much as I hoped they would. Heck, I even have a decent amount stockpiled for NEXT year, so it won’t cost as much to replenish. (Bonus: Unlike candy, this stuff won’t go bad in 365 days!)
My advice is this … if you’re lucky enough to have a Trunk or Treat pop up in your area, grab your children and run (don’t walk!) to it. I promise, it’s SO worth it and not in the least bit as weird as the event may sound to anyone not “in the know.” And if you choose to participate in one, let your imagination run wild – this is your moment to shine!