Neighborly Halloween prank fun need not be pricey.
“You’ve been booed.” That sound like enough to creep out even the most stoic Halloween enthusiasts ever – only booing isn’t really all that scary. It’s actually an all-in-fun way for folks to treat their neighbors and friends to Halloween treats and surprises.
What is booing?
People generally think of booing as something dissatisfied sports fans do after a bad play or an unfavorable referee call. But at Halloween, booing carries an altogether different meaning.
Booing is sort of like a neighborhood chain letter, except that it’s done anonymously, and it includes inexpensive Halloween gifts. The origins of booing is uncertain, but the traditional has become perennially popular, and it sort of fits the mischievous theme of the autumn holiday, as well as the ever-increasing spending totals for Halloween. But booing, doesn’t have to be costly.
Basically, booing starts when one person decorates a little bag and fills it with candies, Halloween novelty items, handcrafted items, or baked goods before leaving it at a neighbor’s house. The boo bag usually comes with a printed sheet of instructions for passing along the festivity, so to speak.
Often, the booing initiator will make multiple boo bags to set things rolling a little faster throughout the neighborhood. The same practice has also been called boo gifting, boo-gramming, boo pranking, ghost bagging, ghosting, and other names.
What should you do, if you receive a boo bag?
Clearly, the first step is to explore the contents of the surprise parcel and enjoy them. There is no actual obligation to do anything more than that. Participation is voluntary. Like the age-old chain letter (or dish towel, post card, pot holder, recipe, or other form of chain), the package may come with a veiled or actual threat of misfortune for non-participation. But that’s a whole lot of hooey, isn’t it?
Let’s assume you choose to go along with the whole booing thing. Read the instructions that came with the bag. Usually, the tips say you need to make up one or more boo bag for others. (The expected number is often spelled out specifically, although this too is optional.)
First, you gather and dress up some choice Halloween items and a few small gift bags. (Booing folks often use clip art, crayons, markers, rubber stamps, stencils, or stickers to transform basic lunch sacks into boo bags for Halloween.).
Copy the instructions that came with your boo bag. These may be printed or hand-written. The lines may be rhymed or simple statements. Your boo bag probably included a single sheet that says, “We’ve been booed.” Copy this for each bag you are making. Hang the original one in a front window or on the front door, so you won’t be booed again this year. (It’s considered bad form to boo-back or to boo someone who has already been booed.)
Next, you place a small assortment of goodies into each bag. The dollar store is your best friend here. Halloween bookmarks. candles, erasers, glow sticks, party napkins, pencils, plastic rings, and other small items do nicely. This is also a great way to unload unused party favors and small prizes from Halloween pinatas and events in the past. Crafts and baked items are also super, but a few small candy bars fit the bill just as well.
Deliver the boo bags you have made to various neighbors’ homes anonymously. Do not ring the bell or knock on the door. Just leave the bags, and see how long it takes for “We’ve been booed” signs to show up all over the neighborhood – just in time for Halloween trick or treating.