Trunk Or Treat Events: A Step By Step Guide

It is that time of year for church groups everywhere to have local Trunk or Treat parties. Although I've lived in 15 different places for Halloween in my lifetime, our local church group in every one of them has had a Halloween party and every one of them called it "Trunk or Treat." If you've never been part of one before, here's the way this mysterious pre-Halloween event works:

1) Print up some nice invitations/announcements, delicately balancing the elements of haunted/scary and fun/church. (At least we don't have a silly poem that explains how all of the symbols of Halloween really correlate with the true meaning of Christianity).

2) Make sure to include a prohibition on wearing masks to the Trunk or Treat (but do not ever enforce this ban, or even mention it once the day of the event arrives, unless whispering to a friend about how someone else's child wore a mask, even though the invitations clearly prohibited it).

3) For extra credit, you might pair a hot dog roast, a chili cook-off or a costume parade with the event. For extra extra credit, have everyone help create carnival-like booths and cake walks to go with the Trunk or Treat. That way, the mothers in the church can have an extra set of logistics to worry about in addition to finding costumes for the kids (do you have them wear the same ones they will wear on Halloween night itself, risking damage to the costumes before the big day, or do you produce two separate costumes...one for the Trunk or Treat and another for Halloween Trick or Treating?).

4) Drag out the preliminary activities as long as possible before unleashing the children for the car-to-car Trunk or Treating portion of the event (this is important...you can't just jump right into the Trunk or Treat part and have it all be over with in 5 minutes). Once the official Trunk or Treating begins, unless you wisely park the vehicles 50 yards apart, the kids will have made it to every car in the parking lot before you've had time to sneak a few Kit Kats and Rolos for yourself.

5) As the children make their first round trip of the parking lot, sternly, but in a loving and truly-Christian manner, inform each of them when they visit your car (especially the teenagers) that you will only be giving out candy once per person..no returning for repeat rounds and stockpiling candy. Of course, only a few brave souls dare enforce this policy when the kids make their second, third, fourth, and fifth rounds. It's like the mask thing...the real art is in stating the policy firmly and then pretending like it doesn't really exist when no one follows it.

6) Make sure to tell your own children they must, despite what anyone else is doing, adhere to the one-visit-per-car policy. Make sure they know you would be mortified if others knew YOUR children were double dipping. Of course, they'll complain that the night will be over after only 5 minutes of going car to car (because no one wisely parked the vehicles 50 yards apart). At this point, you decide to get real with them, and you tell them when they do go back for their second and third rounds to at least pretend like they haven't been to those same cars before. Perhaps one time with the costume on and the next time with half of it removed? This is where violating the no-mask policy comes in handy--if your child is wearing a mask, at least some of the other parents will not realize your child is going back for more, and more, and more candy. And, if these deceptions fail and your children are recognized, it is important that they know this is one of those "white lie" moments where it is OK to let the kind folks at the vehicle know the real reason for returning for multiple rounds of candy: it is for their ill sibling who had to stay home and who otherwise would not have the candy and junk food required to put them on the path of recovery to full health.

7) When at least five candy-collecting rounds have been made by all of the children to all of the cars, this is the time things start to get sketchy. Some kids start getting tired and begin to drop out of the race, while some cars run out of candy and begin to close up shop. You don't want to be the first person to run out of candy, but you don't want to be the last one either. When you see one or two neighbors begin to call it a night, it is then OK to dump the rest of your candy into the bag of the next child who comes near your vehicle. This is where it is important that you have not been too stern when explaining the "only one round of candy" thing back at the start of the event. You don't want to scare away all of the children and then be stuck sitting there for an extra half hour waiting to see if any genuinely-unique visitors show up to get a Tootsie Roll.

8) On the way home from the event, assuming you successfully maneuver your way through the parking lot without hitting any children, be sure to let your own kids know they may only enjoy a maximum of two pieces of candy from their loot. Of course, like all other parts of the evening, you will not actually enforce this rule, but you do need to state it with convincing conviction so that you can avoid feeling guilty for the gluttony taking place under your watch. This is a good time to remind yourself, proudly, that you are the type of parent who "teaches your children correct principles and then allows them to govern themselves."

9) As you near your home and pass your neighbor, who is in his front yard drinking a bottle of beer, congratulate yourself on your strict adherence to a code of health that keeps you from such indulgences. Then eat another leftover cupcake from the cake walk booth you hosted and down a few more mini Snickers bars, provided neither contain green tea extract.

10) If all goes as planned, and before the sugar rush wears off, work on putting words on paper for the True Meaning of Halloween poem you plan to distribute at next year's Trunk or Treat..."Orange is for the color of the straw that lined the manger bed. Pumpkins remind each one of us that without food we'd be dead. Ghosts are for the sprits of our loved ones gone before. Sharing candy shows us that in giving we get more..."

11) As insulin does its job and slowly restores your blood to its pre-Trunk or Treat state, abandon your efforts on the True Meaning of Halloween poem and instead get an early start on the flyers for next summer's church pool party..."No revealing swimsuits will be worn." "No running on the pool deck." "If you are more than 30 pounds overweight, please wear a coverup shirt over your swimming suit." "No baby diapers in the pool." ...