Trunk or Treat planning guide for 2017
If your church is having a trunk or treat, this trunk or treat planning guide provides valuable information on promoting, planning and other tips that can make it successful.
Step one – define your goals. This may sound simple but it is an important step most people don’t think about. Are you hosting the trunk-or-treat only for children at your church, plus any friends that they may invite or are you opening it up to the community and making it an outreach event? What is your budget and how will it be allocated? If you are trying to keep it small, only for the children who go to your church the planning becomes much easier. You know about how many kids to expect, depending on the weather and you don’t have to worry about any outreach activities. I’m going to provide my insights and suggestions assuming that your church is going to use this as an outreach and invite the community, which can be a much bigger task.
One of the biggest unknowns is how many kids will show up. The weather is a big factor and you don’t know until the last week or maybe even later. That is why I recommend creating two plans. The first one is for the number of kids you expect to show up and the other plan is what happens if there are twice as many kids. Last year in North Carolina the weather was amazing on Sunday evening. All the churches I know of had double or even triple the number of kids they planned for. That can create a bad experience for everyone as you can quickly run out of candy and food.
Our church collected candy and treats beforehand and also asked adults who were participating to bring candy. That gave us a backup supply, which we totally used up and still had to send people out to the store to buy more. We were expecting a couple hundred kids and because of the weather, we had almost 1,000. We did run out of candy and food but it was towards the end of the event. Overall people enjoyed themselves but unfortunately, that was not true for all the trunk or treats in our area. Not planning for a record number of people can leave a bad taste in visitors minds.
Step two of our trunk or treat planning guide – promoting your trunk or treat. I’ve written several articles about how to promote an event so I’m just going to go over the basics and link to the other articles if you want more details. The first is internal promotions such as announcements in the church bulletin and the newsletter. If you have a pre-school or after school make sure they receive an invitation. Create a ticket to the event and give a couple to each child in church, preschool and after school.
External promotions – There are a number of external promotions available. I’ll list a few of my favorite ones here.
- Facebook – 90% of the people who live around your church are on Facebook and log in every day. If your church has a Facebook Page creating an ad is simple, cost effective and efficient. You’ll need a picture of kids dressed up. Don’t put any copy on the picture. Facebook does not like any words on the pictures and will reject your ad if there are more than 25% words. If you have a video or can create one, even better because Facebook likes videos and you’ll reach more people at less cost. Click here to go to Facebook’s Ad platform. Create an ad promoting an event and choose the people you want to reach. There are a lot of options but pick people who have kids in the age group you want to invite who live within a couple miles of your church. Keep the copy simple: Invitation to the event and the details. You can send them to your page to RSVP which will help with planning. Here is a link to a previous article on using Facebook that has more details.
- Post event on Craig’s List. It is easy, free and a lot of people still visit Craig’s List.
- Posters up around local establishments. They won’t get the views that Facebook will but you’ll still reach people
- If you created a ticket look into handing them out at school functions or other community activities
- Local newspaper and radio. They may promote your community event for free. I don’t recommend running an ad though.
- For more ideas on getting the word out click here.
Why are you holding a trunk or treat?
There can be lots of reasons you want to hold a trunk or treat: fun, safe event for kids, community outreach, etc., but in my opinion, there is only one primary reason and that is to bring children and adults into a relationship with Jesus. How does a trunk or treat accomplish that? It can be a door opener. If you are able to funnel everyone through a couple openings before they enter your trunk or treat you can provide a sign-up sheet where the parents can get more information about what is going on at the church. A sign and an email sign-up list (optional) can be a great way to start connecting. Plan to pass out information on other activities going on at the church.
If you don’t have one central place where people go through to get into your trunk or treat you can give one car information to pass out about what is going on at the church and a couple more can be sign up stations to collect email addresses.
Hand out Gospel Tracts and other reminders that God loves them and has a plan for their lives.
Only a small portion of kids and parents will decide to join the church and hopefully, come into a relationship with Jesus. Gospel tracts are a way to put God’s Word into every child that visits your Trunk or Treat. Memory Cross has several that you might want to consider. They are, creative, fun and effective at presenting the Gospel. If you would like to order a free sample, click here.
What activities to include for trunk or treat
Here are a few things that have been popular at other trunk or treats. The list depends on your budget, space, and resources of your members. These would be in addition to decorating the trunk of a car, SUV or pickup.
- Provide food and drink either no charge or at cost. If you have an outdoor shelter or can set up picnic tables and have the equipment to cook hamburgers, hot dogs or pizza, providing food can be a great addition.
- Live entertainment – have a praise band or other musical talent at the church? Check into having them perform at your trunk or treat.
- Is your event going on at sundown? Consider adding a movie. I’ve seen mixed results because many parents want to get their kids home and ready for school, but if your event is being held on Friday or Saturday I’ve seen the movie be very successful.
- Games and blow-ups. Kids love those giant blow-ups and adding some will continue to engage children after they have gone through the trunk or treat. If cost is an issue see if a local business would be willing to sponsor one of the blow-ups. Add their name to the ticket and maybe even some information on the back.
- Hayride – you need the right equipment and probably be in a country setting but a hayride can be something that draws children to your trunk or treat.
- Pumpkin drawing – Jack Be Little pumpkins or Baby Boo pumpkins are usually available for $1.00 or less and make a great craft activity for children. A free option would be to allow children to color a Bible Halloween page such as this one from Ministry to Children.
Your event was a smashing success, congratulations! One more thing you don’t want to forget. If you collected email addresses enter them into your email account. (I use Mailchimp). Send them out an email thanking them for coming and letting them know about programs going on at the church for children and adults. You should send out emails once a week with what is happing, at least for the first month. It takes time to get people into the habit of visiting your church so don’t give up. It can be a life-changing experience as you can see by watching the video. Don’t give up, Keep the outreach going. God will use you to touch others.
I’ve tried to make this a fairly complete Trunk or Treat planning guide but if you have anything to suggest, write down your comments.