Trick or Treat (multifandom exchange)

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Name: Trick or Treat
Date(s): 2014–ongoing
Moderator(s): PumpkinKing
Founder: PumpkinKing
Type: character matching gift exchange
Fandom: multifandom

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Trick or Treat (often abbreviated ToT) is a multifandom character matching gift exchange that always has reveals on Halloween (October 31) requires only 300 words of fanfiction or, for fanartists, "a piece of artwork at the nice sketch stage" on unlined paper.[1] In the mod's own words:

Trick or Treat is an exchange in the style of exchanges like Yuletide or Purim Gifts. It is inspired by a real world holiday. You do not need to celebrate Halloween to participate in this exchange. Each person will receive at least one gift. The gift will be a trick or a treat. A trick should be more horror, occult, supernatural, or scary. A treat should be more sweet, sexy, or fluffy. These are a bit vague to give the writer/artist room for how they interpret trick or treat.[1]

Unlike Yuletide, Trick or Treat uses "OR" matching, so participants only get matched on one fandom, one character, and one medium. As of the 2021 round, Trick or Treat has moved to mixed character and relationship matching instead of just character given the discontinuation of Shipoween, which was a relationship focused Halloween exchange. ToT has a strong treating culture and has community challenges every year, and many people cite the low word count requirement as a factor for both deciding to sign up and deciding to treat.


On September 6, 2014, an anonymous user posted to fail_fandomanon's reoccurring Bangs, Fests, and Exchanges thread[note 1] with a subthread titled "Halloween", saying it was a shame that it was "too late to get anything going with a reveal date on Halloween" and wishing for a gift exchange in particular.[2] Another nonnie suggested that it wasn't too late "if you make it a drabble or ficlet exchange."[2]

The two nonnies then had this exchange:

AYRT[note 2]

You are right, nonny! The only question is should the gifts be required to be Halloween appropriate or anything at all?

Both, maybe? What about a trick or treat angle? Like, you provide a horror prompt and a sexy prompt when you sign up and it's up to your assigned writer to decide which prompt to write, so come Halloween you'll be surprised by either a trick (horror) or a treat (smut)?


I really like that idea. I think I might change it from smut to sexy/sweet though, that way it doesn't end up with someone being forced to write their NoTP.

The nonnie who started the thread came back the next day with a link to Trick or Treat's Dreamwidth and Archive of Our Own collection, with the tagset already open for nominations. The FFA post rolled over soon after[note 1] at which point PumpkinKing posted a proper announcement thread both announcing that nominations were open and soliciting feedback and questions, as it had been less than 24 hours since they'd gotten the idea in the previous post.[3] The response was largely positive and enthusiastic, with many nonnies citing the low minimum wordcount as a big draw:


I try not to do other exchanges during the Yuletide period, but the lowball wordcount on this one, means I'll probably give it a go.

*Runs off to nominate The Weir*[4]

Heck, a 300-word minimum, I can do that, even though I'm mostly sworn off exchanges.[5]

Haha, thank god this has such a low minimum word count, because I so wasn't going to do this because of femslashex and yuletide, but I just went to 'take a look' and accidentally nominated some of my favorite creepy fandoms in the spirit of the holiday.


In a later post, the mod confirmed that original works would be allowed and that "Original Character" could be nominated for any fandom, although people's specific OCs could not,[7] and also that nominating worldbuilding tags would be allowed.[8] No one in 2014 actually nominated a worldbuilding tag, but 19 original character tags were nominated, including 10 in the Original Works fandom.[9]

Trick and Treats

In 2014, the tricks vs treats aspect was brought up often in discussion. Below are a selection of comments on the subject.

Tricks are happy fics and treats as not so happy fics. Like, when I'll write my requests, they'll probably look a lot like this:

Trick: [a few short angsty, spooky, horrific or supernatural prompts. stuff like a werewolf!AU, someone being secretly a serial killer or characters ending in a haunted house that's actually haunted]

Treat: [a few short fluffy, sweet prompts full of happiness. stuff like X/Y's first kiss, someone adopts a kitten or characters going to the beach]

Do Not Wants: [things I don't want to see in this fandom, not even in the trick fics. stuff like squicks, triggers and pairings I don't ship][10]

I went with what I think of as traditional horror stuff for tricks - people doubting reality, including monsters and the supernatural in general. I like that kind of thing and it felt in keeping with the theme of the exchange, so I thought a lot of people would be into prompts like that.[11]

+1. I figure that it's a Halloween exchange, so straight-up horror (not darkfic) is what I'm asking for tricks.[12]

I thought I was supposed to ask for dark fic ideas, and totally did. I should edit in that spooky Halloween stuff is good too.[13]

I love the idea of this exchange and like that it's low pressure, and I know they're trying to incorporate halloweeny themes into it, but honestly I don't think the "trick" and "treat" aspects are done very well.

You're supposed to write a story that falls into one of those categories, and prompt stories for both categories for each fandom (in fact, the mod explicitly states that you're not supposed to pressure your writer one way or the other), but a lot of people don't seem to be clear on what exactly they are. I've seen people put lighthearted and silly but still halloween-themed prompts under 'trick' and some people put those under 'treat' and reserve 'trick' for actual darkfic.

For me, there are a few fandoms where I have concrete ideas for both, some fandoms that are lighthearted in tone and I wouldn't want actual darkfic for (halloween shenanigans are fine), and some fandoms I'm having trouble thinking up fluffy, light scenarios to prompt because they're so dark and the characters I want in particular are pretty terrible. IMO, I'd like it more if Halloween-type fills were encouraged but the trick/treat contrast wasn't emphasized so much.[14]

I have just decided that one of the things I like about this fest that makes it feel low-pressure is that requests theoretically come in one of two flavors. Either it's dark and creepy, or it's fluffy/sexy. I don't feel like there's any pressure at all to ~interrogate the canon~ or whatever. Just porn! Or ghost story![15]

Notes & References


  1. ^ a b "Reoccurring" thread/the FFA post "rolling over": Anon memes use the comment section on journal posts to discuss. Eventually everyone has to answer captcha to post their comments, and the comment section becomes too long to navigate, so a new post is made to continue discussions. This is also why the Bangs, Fests, and Exchanges thread is "reoccurring"—someone starts it up again every time the post rolls over.
  2. ^ AYRT: "Anon You Replied To", a common abbreviation to add to one's post on anon memes to keep conversation running smoothly.