· Holidays · Halloween · Trunk-or-Treat! Tailgating Halloween Style!

Trunk-or-Treat! Tailgating Halloween Style!

If you happen to drive by a parking lot on Halloween and see a bunch of cars dressed up in costumes along with the trick-or-treaters, you may have just witnessed a “trunk-or-treating” in progress. Not sure what trunk-or-treating is? It basically brings Halloween from the uncertain streets to the safety of church and school parking lots, turning the backs of cars, minivans, and SUV’s into the new front porch.

When I was a little girl there was no such thing as trunk-or-treating. It was when I started having kids of my own that the idea really started catching on, but back then it literally was JUST trick-or-treating from car to car…nothing exciting (unless you count the excitement of the kids who got loaded up on candy without having to do a lot of walking!)

Nowadays the trunk-or-treating idea has been taken to new levels with lots of people giving as much thought to dressing up their cars as dressing up their kids! I whole-heartedly endorse this idea!

Kaitlyn writes………….   I’ve known about trunk-or-treating since I was a little kid but I’ve never actually been participated in it. I had no idea until recently just how much work people put into the designs for their trunks! I’ve seen so many fun ideas floating around the web the past few weeks that I couldn’t resist rounding up some of my favorites. I also tried my hand at a super easy and inexpensive trunk decor idea for inspiration!


For my own trunk I took inspiration from Jillee’s DIY spiders and went for a simple spider web theme. Other than Jillee’s spiders and the pumpkins, I found all the supplies for my trunk at my local dollar store. But when I was there yesterday they were taking down the Halloween decorations to put up Christmas stuff. So if you still need Halloween decor you might want to hurry!


I started with some fake spider webs. I only needed one package to cover the whole trunk because it stretches out so much! I attached it to the car with scotch tape.  Then I added some fun purple glitter spiders and some small black plastic spiders.


I hung some plastic spiders on the door with twine. The ones I used actually light up and will look great in the dark!


Then I topped it off with Jillee’s spiders, some mini pumpkins, a spider gravestone, and a big bowl of candy. The whole thing probably took 20 minutes to set-up and cost less than $20. Now that’s my kind of holiday decor!


Keep scrolling for more fun ideas for your trunk-or-treat!

Monster’s Mouth

Such a clever and easy idea to turn your trunk into a giant mouth. I love how they put the candy bucket at the end of the tongue!

Trunk-or-Treat Ideas

 tcollins1978 on Instagram

Wizard of Oz

This would look especially darling if your whole family were dressed up as characters from the movie! The props might be a bit time consuming to make but would be practically free if you used cardboard from old boxes.

Trunk-or-Treat Ideas

NC & Beyond

Cookie Monster

I wish I could figure out how these folks shaped Cookie Monster’s head! I think it looks fantastic! It would be fun to have the kids reach into his mouth to get their candy.

Trunk-or-Treat Ideas

Quotes of a Boy Mom


I just adore this idea! I bet little kids would go crazy over all those balloons!

Trunk-or-Treat- Ideas

Candidly Kate

Another fun “Up” car!


iamellieberry on Instagram


Talk about an inexpensive decor idea! Who doesn’t have a yard full of leaves this time of year? I especially love the woman dressed up as a rake.


Trinity Designs

Toy Story

Such a creative idea! If you have Toy Story obsessed kids this would be super easy.


The Niebuhr’s


I’ve seen quite a few “Cars” ideas on Pinterest. It’s really the obvious choice when all you have to do is add eyes and a mouth to your car. And it would be a great photo op for the kiddos!


Dollar Store Crafts

Harry Potter

I couldn’t resist this one since Harry Potter is my favorite book series of all time! It looks like this couple was able to repurpose a lot of things from around their house to create a fun Harry Potter scene!


Living My Simple Life

Charlotte’s Web

I can’t get over how cute the pig, mouse, and spider are! I could be wrong, but it looks like they are all made out of painted pumpkins!



Treasure Chest

This theme works perfectly for a trunk-or-treat. Just fill the chest with candy instead of treasure. Bonus points for chocolate coins!




What a perfect idea for a black car! Just use repurposed pool noodles for the whiskers!


rebeccanickols on Instagram

Mickey Mouse

Even if you don’t have all these cute Disney stuffed animals, a Mickey Mouse car wouldn’t be difficult to execute with some dollar store plastic tablecloths.


juliepmac on Instagram

Duck Dynasty

This picture had me laughing out loud! I love the blow-up pool with the fake ducks floating around.


amyhwaddell on Instagram

Despicable Me

Minions are all the rage right now! This is another trunk that uses table cloths as a base.


muneca9292 on Instagram

Super Mario

This would be so easy with cardboard boxes and some construction paper!


boymomgettinfit on Instagram

Halloween Yard

If your neighborhood doesn’t do door to door trick-or-treating, just bring your house/yard to the trunk-or-treat!


Speedway Neighborhood Watch on Flickr


I love how simple this one is! Wear a black and white striped shirt and use some inexpensive PVC pipes to create bars for the jail cell.


frank_miller83 on Instagram 

Little Red Riding Hood

I may have picked this one just for the adorable puppy, I also love how everything in this photo looks like it was found around the house. You can’t beat free decor!


Ciana Cloud on Flickr


I thought this was so creative! You could add lots of white balloons as bubbles.


Ciana Cloud on Flickr


Another practically free idea if you have camping gear on hand. I especially love the fire with the candy in the middle!


Jeannie Marie & Company

Drive-In Movie

This has to be the most clever idea I’ve seen! It’s so cute with the matchbox cars all lined up!


Jeannie Marie & Company

Bake Shop

You have to click on the link below this photo! The details on this Halloween bake shop are to die for!


Giggles Galore 


Such a creative idea! This car is the perfect shape for a toaster.


The Adams Family

Angry Birds

This would be so inexpensive to execute! Spray paint or cover old boxes in brown paper. Print out some bird faces and use balloons for the pigs.


Ten23 Designs

Giant Spider

I love the idea of being caught in a giant spider web!


The Connection Church on Flickr


Another super simple idea! This family used toilet paper to create this mummy.


The Cards We Drew


This one is perfect if you have a sandbox you can borrow from and you haven’t put your beach toys away for the season!


Rachel Kramer on Flickr

McDonald’s Drive-Thru

This is probably my favorite one of the whole bunch. I think this drive-thru idea is so clever! And you could really make it any restaurant you’d like.


Sunnyside Baptist Church


I had to include this one since Britta recently did a fantastic DIY Lego costume!


Livin’ Our Love Song

Finding Nemo

I love how this family used blue balloons to create water!


The Southern

Have you participated in trunk-or-treating? What was your favorite idea?

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  • Our church has one each year the Sat evening before Halloween. It’s very casual. It especially appeals to people who live in apartment complexes that don’t allow Trick or Treating and people who live in rural areas that don’t get Trick or Treaters at all. Most of the Trunk or Treaters are in the 3-5 year old range with parents using this as a daylight warm-up for nighttime Trick or Treating on Halloween.
    I especially like it because it’s all over in under an hour and because everyone is just happy and having a great time!

  • I wasn’t familiar with Trunk-r-Treating either until we got hit by Katrina (I live in Mississippi on the coast). By Halloween most area were still in ruins and trick-r-treating was a problem due to the hazards left from the destruction. So Trunk-r-Treating was a wonder alternative to give the kids a safe place to have fun. We held our at our office with games, a haunted courtyard, food and games. The kids loved it nearly as much as the adults.

  • For those who are concerned about going overboard, in my experience, most of the cars at the Trunk or Treat aren’t this elaborate. These are examples of the ones that take the most work. My kids are teens now, but it wasn’t ever a “competition,” and while everyone got some good laughs and appreciation of the ones that had taken some time, the more simple ones were just as appreciated because there was candy there too. ;)
    When my ex husband was in grad school, a bunch of the single dental students and med students at our church wore their scrubs and stethoscopes and that made the little kids just as happy. My sister in law had the most elaborate “trunk” at theirs last year: they decorated their van like a giant purple Minion by wrapping it in cheap purple tablecloths, and she was dressed as the purple Minion too.

    If it turned into a competition, I wouldn’t like it either, but usually it’s pretty low-key.

  • Me thinks, perhaps, Halloween and other festive holidays are a wee bit out of hand. So many times we are caught up in making something the “best ever” that we overlook that activities are really about spending time together. And then of course there is the need to “top” each other and seek out “kid approval”.
    Halloween when I was a kid was about kid made costumes, running around at night with very little supervision (1 or 2 brave Dad’s taking 15 kids), visiting the neighbors you know, getting some treats and of course the trading of goodies afterwards. Sadly, Halloween is no longer kid powered.

  • Wow, talk about creative and great imagination. These are great. Since “trunk or treat” is about the safety of the kids, I’m glad the parents are able to make it FUN too.

  • We have this in our town. And you have to fill out paperwork with the pd to set up. It is great for little kids, that way they are not out at dark and still get to bed at normal time. Also it is mostly businesses who are not on main st that set up.

  • The reason trunk or treating is so popular is that there just aren’t as many safe neighborhoods as when I was a kid. That’s just a sad reality these days. Our church started doing the trunk or treat parties when my “baby”
    sister was a little girl Every year they have a chili cook off contest and dinner. Some of the families really get into decking out their cars. I don’t think this could ever replace the usual trick or treating. My church always does,this as part of our youth activity night the week of

  • This is the first I have heard of Trunk or Treat. I think it is a fun and fabulous idea! I agree with Deb in that if it is a Church or even a community sponsored event, there is a feel of more safety. Plus I think the children would be just as thrilled as the parents at all the different “themes” of the trunks. This would no way take away from the traditional trick or treating of going from home to home. I know many who love decorating their walkways and porches, dressing up and handing out the treats. The children will still come!! I love this idea….would love to do it…but as a Minnesotan who gets chilled easily and suffers, I will be in my toasty warm house handing out!!

  • As someone who goes big on Halloween with lots of handmade props and decor across my front yard, I have to admit I don’t get the trunk-or-treat concept. I’m sure there’s a lot of camaraderie and such, and there is a safety aspect to it too, but it just seems a diminished form of celebrating the holiday.

    No doubt I’m just nostalgic for my youth going door-to-door in costume, and I try to convey that same sense of excitement and wonder for the kids when setting up my own display, but I think kids are missing something wonderful just hanging in a parking lot.

  • We love trunk or treat at our church! If it is raining we use the gym. We call it “Neewollah”, and hold it at our church on the Wednesday before Halloween. Before they trunk or treat, we have a party for the kids with bounce houses and games. They kids have a blast, it has turned into a community event. Seeing all these neat cars is a challenge to me to take my boring Honda to the next level!

  • And this is because adults can’t walk with their kids to do trick or treating? Or is it because it’s all really about the parents, like so many things are?

    • This is because in most areas, trunk or treaters are well known to each other and are registered (think school and church) for the safety of the children. And they are a ton of fun!!!

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