Trunk or Treat: A Church Halloween Alternative Idea

Trunk or Treat - Church Outreach Ideas for Halloween

I had never heard of a church based Trunk or Treat until I became a children’s minister a few year ago. To be honest, I wondered if the idea was blasphemous to encourage trick or treating at the church facility. I found out quickly that it was an excellent outreach event to our community.

For those of you who have never heard of this or want to know more, then this article is for you! Trunk or Treat may be a great option for a Fall church party or carnival. It could be just the right family friendly outreach event. Keep reading to learn the basics…. you can also view some trunk or treat decoration ideas on our Pinterest board.

Update 10/31/2011 In some communities, church based Halloween alternatives are becoming more popular than traditional Trick-or-Treating.

Update 10/4/2014 Don’t miss our trick or treat Bible Object lessons or other ministry ideas for Halloween.

More Free Ministry Resources for Halloween

"Do Not Fear" Halloween Coloring Page
Do Not Fear Coloring Page
Fear Not Sunday School Lesson for Halloween
“Fear Not” Bible Lesson
Jesus is not afraid of Halloween
Jesus Is Not Afraid of Halloween
“Faith Overcomes” Lesson

How To Plan a Trunk or Treat at Church

First, make sure your church is on board with this. Some churches have Reformation parties, others have autumn events or a Fall Festival. As I said, I had never heard of Trunk or Treat before and can only assume it is a regional phenomenon–at the very least it has yet to hit the St. Louis area where I grew up.

Second, you will want to get enough trunks (cars) to make at least two aisles of cars in your parking lot. This will depend on the size of your parking lot, but I found that 6 or 7 cars in two aisles facing one another makes for a smoother operation. It keeps the children on your premises a bit longer and allows you to speak more with them and their families.

Third, provide hotdogs, chips and sodas. This is an extremeley cost-effective way to keep the families around that much longer to be able to evangelize, invite and minister to them.

Fourth, have some games to play. (See our Fall preschool games for ideas.) They do not need to be big or involved games. The kids just need to be able to win more candy. You can also hand out gospel tracts as part of their winnings. Make sure that everyone wins every time!

Fifth, and finally, rent a bounce house. Inevitably, the church children are going to get bored. This will give them something to do during the festivities. The children from the community will not want to stick around too long because they want to hit as many houses as possible.

Be sure you have enough candy and make certain you have fun while doing this. Have fun and redeem the time for the Lord!

Share Your Trunk or Treat Ideas

If you have experience with this type of event, please leave a comment to share your thoughts. What type of games worked best? What other attractions did you offer? Was your congregation uneasy about connecting the church and Halloween?

Need More Help? Then read about Trunk or Treat on Kidology or read some tips for planning a church trunk or treat on the Memory Cross blog. Children’s Ministry Magazine also blogged about the Fall Festival idea.

Trunk or Treat Decorations
Click above to view these ideas on

Trunk or Treat Video

Another Trunk or Treat Video


  1. Jason says

    So, if this is “harmless fun at a ‘Church'”, why am I seeing Jack-O-Lanterns and Ghosts on the trunks?

    We are called to be “Different” and the ‘Light’ and ‘Salt’ of the earth, not cheap copies of Satan’s perversion. :(

    Why did you NOT at least mention “forgo the evil symbols” when decorating the trunks in your article?

  2. Peter says

    Every year we have our daughter dress up in a Halloween costume and take her trick-or-treating. We tell her not to believe in spooks, so there’s no problem.

  3. K Gray says

    That would be great!! Love your idea for being united in Christ and drawing the community.

  4. Jennifer says

    Just me again…thoughts on Trunk or Treat. Granted, I’m not a Christian so I don’t know whether this would work or not. Has anyone ever thought about getting a bunch of local churches together and doing a HUGE Trunk or Treat? You could all be united in Christ and with a large event, you would be more likely to draw in more community members. Just my 2 cents. :)

  5. K Gray says

    That said, this weekend is a great time to teach our kids what God has said about spiritists, mediums, the occult, and seeking guidance from anything or anyone other than Him. And then go to T/T and enjoy. This year we are taking prayer requests – a great way to continue to minister after T/T!

  6. K Gray says

    I feel that Trunk or Treat often functions as a church fellowship. It is fun, informal, imaginative, and everyone laughs a lot. It is a good time for everyone! As for outreach and evangelism? Here are my real questions: Is there more praying than planning? Do we honestly expect people to come to Christ; do we expect and plan for it? Are there people available to counsel or talk to anyone? Do we know or find out anything about the people who come? What is the followup? If a relationship is begun at T/T, how is it continued? Are the tracts in English only; how about Spanish? Do people keep or look at the tracts? How many other T/T’s and festivals are on the same night? How many churches are putting resources into the same activity, same timeslot? Does anyone do a post-T/T review of TT as evangelism and outreach? Do we teach our own kids why we are having T/T, and educate them on Halloween, or do we just tell them that our church is dressing in costume and handing out candy? We need to look at what we do very honestly.

  7. Jennifer says

    Of course it is the parent’s responsibility to remove anything they would not want their child to have, but for me it is more a matter of respect. Religion is so personal to everyone, I find it a bit disrespectful…not in the general handing out of tracts but in the experiences I’ve had, where the people attempt to hide them. Last year, one was folded very small and stuffed into the middle of a bag of tootsie rolls, where I can only suppose, they hoped I would not see it. So, perhaps it’s not the handing out of tracts itself that bothers me-I’ve been giving this some thought over the last few days-it’s the way I’ve experienced it. With people trying to hide them and sneak them. That’s what I find disrespectful. Thank you all for the great input! I always appreciate different points of view, it keeps me grounded. :)

  8. Kristine says

    I am disappointed in the many churches that celebrate halloween. I don’t see anything Godly about this so-called holiday. Why do we have to have an alternative for our children? Why can’t we teach them to not participate at all? I feel having a substitute is only putting a Christian label on something that has nothing to do with pleasing the Lord. There are 51 other weeks of the year we can celebrate the harvest season or dress up. I don’t think we need to do it at the same time as this secular “holiday”.

  9. Lisa says

    Our Church has what we call Light the Night. It is similar to this trunck or treat but we have food, games, entertainment, hayrides, and bounce houses. It is always a great turnout.

  10. says

    @Jennifer – I appreciate your comments and a forum is not the best way to discuss this because how the question comes across may not e the way it was intended. So this really is a “friendly” question for an open discussion though it may not “read” that way. It is one seeking an honest response as I am one who has given out “literature” with candy when children come to my door.

    When a parent allows their child to knock on a door seeking solely to receive something for free, isn’t the parent giving implied consent for their child to receive whatever the person deems appropriate? After that, isn’t it the parent’s responsibility to go through and remove whatever the parent deems inappropriate for their child for whatever reason? whether it be literature, candy that may get caught in braces, too much sugar, or whatever

  11. Jennifer says

    @Nathan-I wasn’t talking about being a church event, I was talking about going Trick or Treating in general.

  12. Nathan Gast says

    I’d also like to comment on several things. First of all, as I mentioned in my comment last year located #13 comment above, you can also get stacks of tracks for 100 for $5 with Halloween themes. ( Also, last year we gave away two bicycles in a drawing, and this gave us LOTS of contacts for Vacation Bible School and other events. Lastly, I wanted to comment on Jennifer’s statement in comment #30. I do appreciate your comment on tracts…yet at the same time, I would think that it would seem that being at a church event, it might be expected to be handed information about the church and what the church believes. Most churches have a trunk or treat just for a community to get to know a church better. Thanks for the comment though, it did make me think!

  13. Rhonda says

    @ Jennifer. I can truly understand your feelings as a parent but also as a parent we have the responsibility to only take our children to places that would not violate our faith. If you are offended by this gesture, it might be that you can peruse your child’s bag before they get the info just as I am sure you make sure the other “treats” are safe before consumption. As a Christian, I am compelled by my Leader, Jesus Christ, to go into all the world and preach the gospel (good news of Christ) to ALL people. This includes old and young. If you come to my home, or church for treats, then you have chosen to either accept my gifts or at least are aware that my gift may not mesh with your beliefs or wishes. I think that your post was very well written and I can truly appreciate your concern for your children as I am with mine. Your suggestion is a great one and once more, as a Christian, I must do what I need to do with love not offensiveness. Thanks for the heads up on this matter.

  14. Jennifer says

    I stumbled upon this blog by accident while searching for “trunk or treat.” (I had absolutely no idea what it was.) I really wanted to comment on the handing out of tracts. (I’m not trying to be rude, just a different perspective.) While I respect the intention of trying to “save” people, I do take issue with people handing out religious literature to my child without my consent. I understand what you are trying to do but I would never, ever, hand out literature about Islam, Buddhism or atheism to your children if they stopped at my house, especially without your express permission. My family is not Christian and when people hand my son tracts without a thought as to whether or not it is alright with me, it feels as if they are trying to subvert my authority as a parent. A simple, “May I give you and your child some literature?” may make people more open to what you have to say. I hope you all enjoy the holiday, however you may celebrate. :)

  15. Bettina Lehovec says

    I’m writing an article about trunk or treating for the local newspaper. I’m the religion reporter. I’d love to talk to some of you, particularly the people who feel that Halloween is ungodly or connected to paganism. (Of course I know that it is, at its roots.) This is a perspective I haven’t been able to find locally. Anyone game to give me a call? I’d especially like to hear from Terry Delaney, as author of the article. My number is 479-872-5052. I can call you back if you’re worried about charges. Love to hear from you soon! My deadline is Oct. 22.

  16. says

    I truly don’t believe Trunk or Treat or Harvest Festival to be mimicking an ungodly holiday. Halloween as we know it today is very much an American tradition. I believe that God can use any holiday or situation or event to His glory & for His purpose.

    We’ve done T/T for several years. We have a church of about 700 in attendance on Sundays. We consider it a gift to the community to offer a safe alternative to trick or treating. We invite families to come so that there aren’t children alone accepting candy from strangers. And, year after year, thousands come to our T/T.

    We’ve started opening the carnival games & inflatables an hour early for families who have children with special needs. These kids rarely get to enjoy carnivals & fun because of crowds, exposure to germs, etc. This hasn’t brought a lot of people out, but the 30 or so that are there are so appreciative. This has resulted in great outreach for the church.

    Games & prizes (large room for the big kids, separate room for pre-school kids), pre-school puppet show, balloon drop, $.25 concessions, face painting, inflatables, raffle giveaway, trunks in the parking lot, recruiting volunteers, getting donations from local businesses, promoting to the community, live radio remote – all part of our plans again this year. There’s a lot of details involved. Don’t wait to plan & remember that you don’t have to do it all yourself!

  17. sarah says

    How is this an evil day when we live in this world daily and fight satan. First of all it was started by the catholic church! Secondly any way to reach the youth is a good thing if Christ is the center of attention and I really dont think God has a problem with us using candy to catch their attention.

  18. Connie says

    I just stumbled across your site and I am glad to hear all of the great ideas. My church always has Biblical Imagination night. Where kids and adults dress as their favorite person from the Bible and then talk about the study they did about who the person was , what they learned from studying the life of that person and how they came up with their costume. Like did the Bible describe them a certain way and how they incorporated it in their costume. Some people really come up with a whole skit around something their person said or did in the Bible. Then we just play games and fellowship the rest of the evening. I’m looking for ideas for a costume for a 10-month old.