How to Host a Socially Distant Halloween Trunk or Treat During COVID

Halloween is just around the corner, and this year parents will need to be more creative than ever to keep the tradition alive. COVID-19 has postponed or canceled birthday parties, school, family gatherings, and other fun events for everyone.  One event that may be able to happen with some precautions, though, is Trunk or Treat. While many families are trying to figure out how to celebrate Halloween during COVID, many local organizations and churches are planning their annual Trunk or Treat events, with some social distancing. Here are some ideas to plan a successful COVID-19 style Trunk or Treat.

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Controlling Crowds for Trunk or Treat During COVID

Trunk or treats are usually open to the public and many people attend.  Crowds though, are strongly discouraged during a pandemic.  The World Health Organization suggests that small gatherings and events stagger arrivals and departures, number entries, and mark the floor to keep people apart.  This can be done by having attendees sign up for a time frame to attend.  If the event plans to have 30 cars, possibly allow 30 families to attend per half hour.  Create a sign up with your preferred number of openings on platforms such as SignUpGenius, Eventbrite, or Google Forms. An added bonus is that people preparing their trunks will know the number of trick or treaters that plan to attend and be able to buy treats accordingly.  Sidewalk chalk can be used to draw x’s at least six feet apart where people are directed to wait to enter and wait between cars. Event planners can draw arrows to direct foot traffic and keep people walking in one direction.

Mask Up for Trunk or Treat

The tradition of dressing in costume on Halloween originated from ancient traditions of warding off spirits. Make it mandatory that everyone mask up at Trunk or Treat to ward off COVID-19. All trick or treaters over age 2 and their accompanying adults should wear a mask. Many kids are already wearing masks all day at school, so it should not be a problem, especially with the promise of candy! Some costume masks may be protective, gloves on costumes may also provide an extra layer of protection. From pumpkin-themed to scary and silly mouths, there are already several Halloween cloth Halloween face masks available for adults and kids on Amazon, so everyone can get in the Halloween spirit and stay safe. There are even adorable disposable Halloween ones that you can have available for those who forget their mask. Be sure that your volunteers are also wearing their masks and practicing social distancing.

Trunk or Treat Candy During COVID

It may be best to skip the bowl of treats to pass out this year so the trick or treaters aren’t all reaching into the same bowl.  Instead, each Trunk or Treat car could have the decorated car with a table set up six feet in front of it.  Pre packaged snacks, candy, or treat bags can be laid out on the table for kids to pick up, maybe with a sign stating how much to take.  If you think it’s best to stay away from food all together, lay out craft kits or Halloween activity books and other goodies.  McDonald’s usually sells Halloween Treat Packs that cost $1 and include coupons for free ice cream cones, burgers, and apple slices–a fun treat to redeem later!

Outside and Socially Distant Trunk or Treat

The CDC has said that outdoor activities are lower risk than indoor ones.  Keep everything outside (which may mean alternative dates in case of rain) and be sure to social distance.  Trunk or treat hosts can wave from the trunks of their cars.  Cars should be spaced as much as possible, keeping one or two parking spots empty in between and treats spaced away from the cars by at least six feet.

Keep It Clean and Sanitized

Before the trick or treaters begin, all kids and their parents should be given a squirt of hand sanitizer.  You could also encourage parents to bring hand sanitizer with them, or it could be a fun treat to pass out small bottles of sanitizer to each family upon check in. Give your sanitization stations a fun, Halloween-esque name: Slime Station?

Trunk or Treat To Go

Though difficult, it may be best to have kids wait until they get home to enjoy their treats.  How you approach Halloween candy is really up to you and your level of comfort. Even before COVID, many parents meticulously checked their children’s Halloween candy for other reasons, so this may not even be new for those parents. Have them wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water and maybe even wipe down the wrappers before diving in. Or, open the candies and spill them on to a plate and then wash your hands before consuming. Some studies have found that COVID-19 can live up to three days on surfaces, so if you’re extra cautious you could put the treats aside for three days before enjoying.

Communication is Key

To have a successful and COVID-19 safe Trunk or Treat, communication is key. Event advertising should include sign up information and a website or flyer to view for more precautions being taken. Event reminders should be sent to attendees and hosts and include reminders such as not attending if you’ve had COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Remind everyone also that masks must be worn. Signs at the event can explain the flow of traffic along with the health check reminders and possibly even a time limit for how long families should stay at the event.

Socially Distant Trunk or Treat Check List

  1. Recruit a set number of cars.
  2. Create a timed entry schedule to figure out what your attendance limit will be.
  3. Create a map of where cars will be with plenty of space between.
  4. Advertise with information about reserved time slots, social distancing and mask wearing.
  5. Package candies or little favors in treat bags for easy distribution.
  6. Create signage to direct the flow of traffic.
  7. Draw arrows and x’s on the ground to keep social distancing.
  8. Mask Up and Enjoy

Things You Need for a Trunk or Treat Event During COVID

  1. Social Distancing Signage and Directional Arrows or sidewalk chalk.
  2. Individually wrapped treats.
  3. Goodie bags to distribute treats or trinkets.
  4. Disposable masks.
  5. Sanitization stations.
  6. Trunk or Treat car decorations.

Trunk or treating may look different this year, but the good news is that it CAN work. Neighborhoods may even decide to have families Trunk or Treat from their driveways with some of these precautions to prevent crowds at the doors of homes. Maybe some new pandemic-friendly traditions will begin!

Looking for More Spooky Fun?

Check out our 20+ Ideas Celebrate Halloween During COVID.

12 thoughts on “How to Host a Socially Distant Halloween Trunk or Treat During COVID”

  1. Pingback: 20 Ideas for Halloween During COVID | How to Celebrate Halloween

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  3. This is unbelievably overboard. What a lame super unfun crappy way to celebrate Halloween. This covid stuff is RIDICULOUS! I’m offended and dont feel safe being around people that are constantly wearing masks. But my “feelings” dont matter because they aren’t apart of the right agenda.

    1. We have to try something and we need to obey the laws. These are fun ideas. Covid is a real thing, and it is no fun to fight, trust me.

  4. These are great ideas. Some of the ideas that I have match with what’s on your website. Thank you for posting these amazing ideas that many families and organizations can use to stay safe.

  5. Fantastic article – thanks for laying out how to enjoy Halloween while keeping our family, friends and neighbors out of the ICU.

  6. Great start to plan what’s best for the kids you’ll be serving on what can be a fun & safe day . Be creative
    Thanks , good luck & have fun
    Kids need to have a little fun

  7. Can someone please explain how drive by trunk or treats work? My town is having three of them. Wouldn’t that cause a traffic jam?

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