For planning purposes, children’s ministers need to be thinking at least one season ahead. That means it’s not too early to start brainstorming trunk or treat ideas for the fall.
Yes, Halloween can be “tricky” for churches and children’s ministries, especially now that the holiday seems to dominate the entire month of October. Some pastors and churchgoers consider Halloween evil or dangerous, so they avoid mentioning or marking the occasion in any way. Others turn to alternatives such as harvest parties, carnivals and Bible-character costume contests. Often these events are designed as community outreach events, complete with publicity campaigns to attract families with children.
Another popular Halloween alternative is trunk or treat, which is essentially a trick-or-treating activity held in the church parking lot. Vehicles are often decorated (sometimes according to a predetermined theme), and their owners (often in costume) hand out goodies to kids as they walk by. Some churches also set up booths and hand out welcome materials, Christian tracts, stickers and more. Others use the event to collect nonperishable food for a local pantry or toys for Operation Christmas Child boxes.
Even during the pandemic, many ministries were able to continue their trunk or treat traditions, using social distancing and prepackaged snacks. As with any event for kids, safety should always be a priority at your trunk or treat event.
Whether you’re a trunk or treat newbie or a seasoned veteran, check out this long list of theme possibilities:
27 Trunk or Treat Ideas for Children’s Ministry
1. Bible characters
For churches, an obvious theme involves people from the Bible. Ideas include heroes of the faith, Jesus’ disciples, and angels.
2. Bible stories
Both the Old and New Testaments are filled with Scripture-themed trunk or treat ideas. For example, you can re-create Noah’s Ark, a Bible-times marketplace, miracles and parables.
Scramble the holidays a bit with a festive Ho-Ho-Ho-lloween trunk or treat. Decorate vehicles with Christmas lights and play holiday tunes to prepare people for the upcoming yuletide deluge.
4. Fruit of the Spirit
5. Game Shows
Each vehicle can represent a different game show, or everyone can work together to re-enact one favorite, from Let’s Make a Deal to The Price Is Right.
6. Board Games
Trunk or treat ideas related to board games include such classics as Monopoly, Candyland, Clue, chess, and Hungry Hungry Hippos.
Choose a kid-friendly film or series, and ask participants to dress and decorate accordingly. Bonus tip: Check out this great idea for a concession stand, complete with popcorn and snacks!