Trick or Treating is the best part of Halloween for the young and young at heart. All October long we plan our costumes, stock up on candy, and get ready for a great time.

The days of children safely navigating house by house looking cute and gathering trick-or-treat goodies have gone by in most American neighborhoods. But fear not, there are plenty of safe alternatives for your little (and sometimes big) trick-o-treating fans.

Here are a couple of safe trick-or-treat ideas for schools, churches, and communities that are great alternatives to ensure a fun and safe time for all the kids.

Trunk or Treat

Instead of having the kids go door to door, get with your neighbors (or church, community group, etc.) and host a Trunk or Treat event. This can be done at night or in the daytime and there is very little set up and preparation. Just decorate the inside of your trunk and display the candy in a really cool way. When the event is over, close the trunk and drive home. Use caldrons, skeletons and rats for a spooky theme. Or use pink fabric, a toad, and a tiara for a frog princess theme.

This is a perfect safe Trick or Treat idea for schools and can translate into other settings easily. If you are hosting the event in your neighborhood, all of the participants can park their vehicles at the end of their drive way. This is a great way to indicate who is and who is not participating in the event.

If you are hosting the event at a church or community center, have all of the participants park their cars in a circle. Explain to children and parents that they should only go to the cars inside of the circle. This is a great way to manage who is around and predators will be easily recognized.

Mall Hosted Trick-or-Treating

Most cities across the US will have at least one mall that hosts a trick or treating event. Check your local listings and the mall website for dates and times. Usually during this event, children can travel the mall, visiting various retailers for treats. Children can definitely dress up, and actually, it is encouraged! The participating stores will have some sort of sign posted indicating they are participating in the event. This is a great event because your children are able to have fun in a familiar and safe environment, and you can shop!

If you are still up for traditional Trick-or-Treating or if you know trick-or-treating will take place in your neighborhood follow these safety tips provided by the National Safety Council.

Motorists

The National Safety Council urges motorists to be especially alert on Halloween.

  • Watch for children darting out from between parked cars.
  • At twilight or later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing.

Before They Go Out

Before children start out on their "trick or treat" rounds, parents should make sure that:

  • Children travel only in familiar areas and along an established route and youngsters understand not to eat any treat until you have inspected it.
  • Plan and discuss the route trick-or-treaters intend to follow. Know the names of older children's companions and a return time has been established

Costume Design

  • Remember: fire-retardant materials for costumes and loose but warm clothing underneath.
  • Outfits should be made with light-colored materials. Strips of reflective tape should be used to make children even more visible.

Face Design

  • When buying special Halloween makeup, check for packages containing ingredients that are labeled "Made with U.S. Approved Color Additives," "Laboratory Tested," "Meets Federal Standards for Cosmetics," or "Non-Toxic." Follow manufacturer's instruction for application.
  • If masks are worn, they should have nose and mouth openings and large eye holes.
  • ACCESSORIES
  • Knives, swords and other accessories should be made from cardboard or flexible materials. Do not allow children to carry sharp objects.
  • Bags or sacks carried by youngsters should be light-colored or trimmed with retro-reflective tape if trick-or-treaters are allowed out after dark and carrying flashlights will help children see better and be seen more clearly.

On The Way

Children should understand and follow these rules:

  • Do not enter homes or apartments without adult supervision.
  • Walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic, if there are no sidewalks.

Treats

To ensure a safe and enjoyable trick-or-treat outing for children, parents are urged to:

  • Give children an early meal before going out.
  • Insist that treats be brought home for inspection before anything is eaten and when in doubt, throw it out. Don’t allow children to eat anything that is "suspect."

Safety tips courtesy of the National Safety Council.