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In 2022, trick-or-treating is going to be all about trunk-or-treating, an organized event where people deck out their cars in a theme and hand out candy to trick-or-treaters in costume. Often hosted in a school or community center parking lot, this family-friendly Halloween event has become a tradition in many parts of the country.
And yes, I know what you’re thinking — Halloween candy costs are high, it’s hard to find Halloween costume deals, and now you need to hand over more cash to have the best trunk or treat theme in your town?!
Wrong! I found cheap and easy trunk or treat ideas that are all under $50 (many of which are Oriental Trading Company dupes), including DIY options that aren’t too painful to create. Plus, our Halloween coupons and deals page can help you save money so your Halloween isn’t so stressful — and we’ve found candy coupons, too.
Since trunk or treat events are really about the candy (let’s face it), how about some ways to save when buying candy? We have tips on how to save money on Halloween candy and fun ways to use leftover Halloween candy. If you’re not into handing out the sweet stuff, here are some noncandy Halloween treats.
Try these budget-friendly trunk or treat ideas for your next event, and heck, use them next year to save even more money. Use these ideas as inspiration — the real savings come by incorporating cheap DIY ideas where you can.
1. Shock your kiddos with this Minecraft trunk or treat idea.
Any kid under 12 years old will tell you that they love Minecraft — so it’s only right to have it as a trunk or treat decorating idea. Amazon’s DIY Minecraft trunk kit has character sheet cutouts for only $19.63. Pixelated Minecraft goody bags ($3.79) are the perfect giveaway for all of your candy handouts.
By comparison, the cost to complete the Oriental Trading Minecraft decorating idea is over $250! By designing it yourself, you can customize it for your trunk space and save loads of moolah!
2. Try this $35 DIY Fortnite trunk or treat idea.
Fortnite is another popular online game that could make you a standout at your local trunk or treat. When you’re decorating in all things Fortnite, it’s all about Battle Royal items. Go for Fornite cutouts (12 pieces for $7.79), Battle Royal latex balloons (six for $5.29), and hanging swirl decorations (12 for $8.79) all for $21.87. These Fortnite treat boxes are about $12 for a 24-pack, so you can prepack them with assorted candy.
3. Create a dino-mite experience with this Jurassic Park theme.
It’s easy to create a DIY Jurassic Park-themed trunk, especially when you know where to shop. Start your decorating with hanging artificial ivy vines ($2) and the Jurassic Park cardstock archway ($15). Add dinosaur footprint decals (10 for $3.50) to the ground so your visitors can feel like a dinosaur when they step up.
Creating the Oriental Trading Jurassic Park decorating idea will set you back nearly $525 with all of the accessories! Yikes. Compare that price to this DIY version for only $40.
4. Welcome Disney fans with a trunk or treat idea for Encanto lovers.
Instead of everyone talking about Bruno, have them talk about your Encanto trunk or treat decorations. What you shouldn’t be talking about is paying $95 for the Oriental Trading trunk or treat kit!
Make it happen as a DIY with a fiesta ruffled table skirt ($10) and Mexican fiesta banners ($1) to start; then consider Encanto swirl decorations ($6), and Encanto-themed balloons ($3 each). Adding a lifesize Mirabel cardboard cutout ($20) would definitely impress the kids (and adults). Get it done for $40.
5. Turn your vehicle into a DIY Hocus Pocus idea for $45.
You’ll have lots of decorating options with a Hocus Pocus theme. You can’t go wrong with making or buying an “I Smell Children” sign ($9). Amazon’s 13-piece Hocus Pocus car decorating package is only $18 and comes with cardstocks of pumpkins, the Sanderson sisters’ wigs, skulls, a lantern, and a broom.
If your vehicle has a bigger trunk, add a witches’ kitchen backdrop ($12). And don’t forget the magic spell book ($6)! Compare these DIY decorations totaling $45 to Oriental Trading’s Hocus Pocus look for over $400!
6. Transform your ride into a superhero/shero theme.
With a superhero/shero theme, you can really customize your trunk or treat display given the many options. Stuck on what to use? Try these ideas:
- Superhero hanging swirls ($7)
- Jumbo word cutouts ($9)
- Hanging lanterns ($17)
- Superhero tablecloth ($5)
- Justice League cardstock decorations ($8)
For $46, you can create it yourself rather than pay well over $150 for Oriental Trading’s superhero decorating package.
7. Go crazy with an emoji-themed trunk or treat concept for under $40.
Turn your love of funny expressions into your favorite trunk or treat decorations. Start with a yellow tablecloth ($1) and rainbow-fringed table skirt ($13) to drape the bottom of your trunk and attach another one to your trunk’s lid or hatchback. Display emoji balloons (six for $3) and position a few emoji cushion pillows ($10 each). Or bring some of your favorite emoji pillows and blankets from home. Smiley face goody bags (100 for $10) cap off the theme and are easy for guests to pick up and go.
8. Add a giant monster with bloodshot eyes to your ride for less than $50.
Who knew you needed giant inflatable bloodshot eyeballs ($40)? Clearly, this is your way to stand out among the competing trunks. Attach the blown-up eyeballs to the top of your trunk.
To take it one step further, tape red crepe paper streamers ($1.25) vertically in your trunk opening to resemble the mouth. To complete the scary monster, cut large triangles from white heavy stock construction paper ($6) and attach them as the monster’s giant teeth.
9. Design a picnic at the pumpkin patch scene with found materials.
How does a $10 DIY trunk or treat decorating idea sound? Grab a red checkered tablecloth ($3) and some handmade pumpkin signs and you’ll already feel like you’re in a pumpkin patch.
Make this design happen by cutting and attaching “fence posts” from white or brown corrugated cardboard from leftover boxes at home. Add corn stalks ($5) behind the fence along with DIY signs with directions to the corn maze, orchard, and pumpkins.
10. Celebrate Harry Potter with a Hogwarts-themed trunk.
The pageantry of a Hogwarts theme is made possible by a few items from home and a couple of store-bought things. Use Harry Potter pendants (four for $8), a set of black cauldrons ($1 each), and a brick wall backdrop ($20). Arrange the items as if they were placed in a real boarding school.
Make it simple with some heavy books from home and Dollar Tree flameless LED candles ($1.25 each), and use brown cardstock ($0.50 each) to make a Hogwarts sign. Personalize it with your most loved Harry Potter toys, action figures, or plushies.
11. Plan an animal-themed trunk or treat for next to nothing.
Welcome to the Halloween jungle (or zoo)! To make this the cheap and easy way, decorate your vehicle with some of your favorite stuffed animals and pair them with a safari tablecloth ($3) and Dollar Tree plastic safari animals ($1.25). How about a safari photo prop cutout ($11) for your visitors to take photos with?
You could totally make this for free by just laying down a blanket in your trunk, arranging stuffed animals, and inverting an old baby gate (or an old crib side) vertically as the zoo fence. Use construction paper to make a “Do Not Feed the Animals” sign.
12. Welcome visitors aboard your skeleton pirate ship.
Come aboard mates! Obviously, you can build a faux cardboard pirate ship ($30) like the above photo or have a more low-key, affordable approach with pirate-inspired decorations:
- Pirate flag ($7) (or DIY with construction paper)
- Cloth parrot ($7)
- Treasure chest ($7)
- Skeletons garland ($1.25)
- Creepy cloth ($1.25)
- Wood grain tablecloth ($4)
So for under $30 you can decorate your trunk like a pirate’s ship. Impressive, huh?
13. Add some sweetness to your trunk with a Candy Land decorating idea.
Bring a little sweetness to an otherwise spooky event with a Candy Land-themed trunk or treat. Start with a colorful paper garland ($7) and candy cutouts (30 for $8). Assemble real buckets of Halloween candy in the front of your display so that they’re easy to reach.
Another idea is to fill glass canning jars ($1.25 each) with real candy and have visitors guess the number. Whoever gets the closest wins the jar. A DIY approach is surely cheaper than Oriental Trading’s Candy Land decorations, which total over $200 to create.
14. Bring the It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown theme to life in your car for $40.
You can pretty much count on seeing It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown every year on TV around Halloween, so it’s a very fitting tribute for your fall trunk display. Faux or real pumpkins are a must. You can even incorporate a no-carve pumpkin decorating idea.
A Peanuts or Charlie Brown tablecloth would be ideal, but they tend to be pretty expensive, so just use an orange tablecloth from Walmart for a dollar. Add craft hay ($2) — or real hay from your local farm or grocery store — and orange streamers ($1). To show everyone the theme, add Peanuts Halloween decorations ($8)
This is a doable, low-cost idea for less than $40. Not too bad at all compared to the hundreds of dollars for the Oriental Trading Peanuts decorating package.
15. Turn the back of your truck into Floor is Lava.
Level up and don’t let your friends fall into the lava with your challenging obstacle course. Lay two lava tablecloths (two for $15) on the ground and hang a DIY Floor is Lava sign along the top of your trunk made from black poster board. To incorporate the theme, add random items from home, such as a hula hoop, milk crates, or wood planks. Watch as your visitors try to make it through to get some candy.
16. Entertain trunk-or-treaters with your jack-o’-lantern theme and scary music.
Here’s a solution to a quick and easy trunk or treat display — a jack-o’-lantern! This $9 5-piece jack-o’-lantern decorating kit from Oriental Trading can fit most hatchbacks and small-model cars. The kit is separated into the stem, pumpkin sides, eyes, and grinning mouth.
Amp up the theme with scary music (the Halloween movie theme would be perfect), and add faux or real pumpkins from home. Drop a flameless tea light in your pumpkins to safely illuminate the back of your ride.
17. Create a realistic fall scene with scarecrow decorations.
Would you rather pay $60 for a fall scarecrow decorating kit or DIY something super easy for less than $20? I already know your answer.
Scarecrows are a fall staple, so start with decorative hay bales ($4). Add assorted scarecrow decorations ($7) directly into the hay along with pumpkins (faux or real work here). A corn stalk ($5) in the back of the hay bale will complete your fall scarecrow look instantly.
18. Attach easy dinosaur decorations to create a lifelike experience.
Here’s another doable and inexpensive trunk or treat decorating idea that just so happens to be a dinosaur. For $9, the 5-piece dinosaur decorating kit is big enough to cover your trunk but small enough so as not to scare little kids.
The cardstock components include a huge green dinosaur head, arms, and two sets of teeth. Include pictures of your favorite dinosaurs, books, and stuffed dinosaurs from home.
19. Use a garbage bag to design a giant black cat.
With the help of a large black garbage bag and a few other items, you can pull off this trunk or treat look in no time. This waterproof black cat Halloween decoration kit ($10) includes fangs, two 14-inch eyes, a tongue, and nostrils. Not only is it affordable, but it’s reusable for years to come.
20. Make your trunk stand out with spooky skeleton decorations, all under $40.
What’s a Halloween event without a skeleton? Oriental Trading’s 21-piece skeleton decoration kit ($23) makes the process simple. Among the items you’ll get hanging bones, foil fringe, hanging swirls, and skeleton cutouts. These reflective skeleton treat bags (72 for $14) will fit right into your theme.