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Halloween Boo: A How-To

You’ve Been Boo’d! A How-To for Halloween Booing

By Melissa Summers

On Monday night, I came home to find two packages on my porch. Enclosed were some treats for the kids, a printed picture of a ghost and a little poem explaining we’d been “boo’d.”

A Halloween boo is a little gift or treat left anonymously by a friend or neighbor. Once you’ve been boo’d, you hang a ghost picture on your front door, to let everyone know you’ve gotten your Halloween surprise. But there’s more! Booing is a pay-it-forward game: Once you are boo’d, it’s your turn to choose two neighbors and deliver treats to their house. Anonymously. Of course.

I didn’t think I could love Halloween (or my neighborhood) any more, but this whole booing thing has made me insanely happy. Here’s how to organize your own Halloween boo. It’s absolutely worth the effort.

Boo Basics

Different neighborhoods and friend groups have different traditions for Hallowing booing. Our package included a photocopied picture of a ghost and some simple instructions for what to do next.

You’ve Been Boo’d!

Now it’s your turn to boo two other people in the neighborhood. Here’s what you do:

1. Fill two bags with candy and treats. Make two copies of this letter and the ghost picture. Choose two neighbors who have not already been boo’d and make a boo bag for them. Include treats, this letter, and the ghost picture in their bag of goodies.

2. At a time when you’re sure your neighbors aren’t around, leave your treats near their front door. You can ring the doorbell if you like — but be sure to run so they don’t see you!

3. Hang the picture of the ghost on your front door so everyone can see that you have already been boo’d. And look for the ghost when you’re deciding who to boo next — one boo per house, please!
Keep your eyes peeled to see how many ghosts will appear in our neighborhood by Halloween!

Our instructions also recommended delivering the treats within two days, to make sure everyone in the neighborhood has a chance to be boo’d. Of course, my kids wanted to boo someone IMMEDIATELY, like RIGHT THIS MINUTE WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE HAVE TO EAT DINNER FIRST LET’S GO NOW! When I asked my friends, they said this is a common reaction. So you might want to prepare for this and get your boo bags ready ahead of time.

How to Boo

Halloween Boo

Since we were boo’d early in the month, we had almost the entire neighborhood to choose from when we got ready to do our own boo. We’re also lucky enough to like almost every one of our neighbors enough to gladly send them a treat. All except that one lady … every neighborhood has to have at least one.

(Be sure to boo her, too. Because you never know.)

Since we’re new to booing, we didn’t have supplies on hand. Fortunately, you don’t need much. I bought plain orange bags and little candy boxes at the dollar store, and the kids picked out some seasonal candy and a couple of small toys. We also grabbed some Halloween stickers to decorate the packages and some black and orange tissue paper and ribbon to make it all look pretty.

We filled the boxes with candy and tied them with a ribbon. We put the toys and the instructions and ghost picture in the bags and filled them with tissue. Add a few stickers and we’re done!

Super cute, and super easy.

Cindy at Skip To My Lou has a slightly different take on how to boo. She creates one fairly elaborate treat container that travels from house to house — once you’re boo’d, you refill the container and pass it on. (She does make extras, though, in case someone refuses — er, forgets to pass it on.) You can download Cindy’s free printables for a boo’ing poem with instructions for how to boo and a “we’ve been boo’d” ghost door hanger. This booing strategy probably works best for a small group of families who know each other pretty well and can be trusted to participate. And also not steal the cute container.

Since our boo is a neighborhood tradition, the goal is to boo as many houses as possible, so we keep the actual treats pretty simple. But if you’re booing a smaller group (your playgroup or your kids’ best friends or just a close group of neighbors) you can get a little fancier — maybe replace the candy with a batch of homemade skull and monster sugar cookies, or a couple of ghost and boo cupcakes. You could also substitute Halloween-themed books instead of toys. Whatever works for your family and your neighbors — the real fun is in surprising people with treats. And also sneaking through their yard to deliver them without getting caught.

See Other Halloween Treats Here:

Photo source: Depositphoto/FamVeldman

Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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  • Julie

    October 11, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    We got Boo’d this week. It has been fun collecting goodies to go in our Boo’s that will be delivered tonight, under the cover of dark, with lots of running and hiding involved. I’ve even made a few little ones and altered the poem to start a Boo-fest at work. Not sure how that will go over, but noone will know it was me anyway!

  • Cindy

    October 11, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    What darling treats! I loved your idea to use the transfers to dress up the plain sacks and boxes! Too cute! I think I will have to make my way back to Michael’s to buy yet another item from the Martha line -YIKES!
    Thanks for giving me a mention!

  • kelli

    October 11, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    I just went to Michael’s and they some of the Martha stuff (even Halloween) is on clearance (some up to 50% off!). And you can now use the 40% off coupon in the sale flyer on her stuff, too! (Yeah, I spent $40, but I now have a cool cat cutout, Halloween stickers & cards to send to relatives, and boxes for treats for teachers at Christmas, and cool wrapping paper + tissue!)

  • Cheri

    October 11, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Julie, I had the same idea when I read this – I think I’m starting a Boo-fest in my office tomorrow! I think the group I work with will really get into it.
    Thanks for sharing, Melissa!

  • Nicole

    October 11, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    Target sells “Boo” kits– includes everything this year, last year it was everything but the candy. Although, your Martha version is WAY better! Such a fun tradition. I’m glad you have such a “boo-tiful” neighborhood!

  • Mizz Drizz

    October 12, 2007 at 12:06 am

    I just got Boo’d tonite as well. We just moved into a dream neighborhood like yours, after coming from one akin to the depths of hell… My first thought was that I was getting Ding Dong Ditched, but it was such a great surprise. Now, I have 2 Boos to do. Ours was filled with beer and candy but I am assuming they should be more kid friendly, for families that don’t have 2 beer drinking parents and a 10 month old that doesn’t snack on Twix bars. I was planning on stopping at Michaels tomorrow, I guess I’ll have to check out Martha’s stickers. Thanks for the ideas!

  • Kimmers

    October 12, 2007 at 8:51 am

    Those of you that decided to do this for the office, can you share your alterations? I think I’d like to try this at work. My neighborhood is NOT somewhere I could do this!

  • Angela

    October 12, 2007 at 10:26 am

    What a cute idea!
    I’m a little afraid I might get shot in my neighborhood, how sad is that! But I might try it at work. How should we have them indicate they’ve been boo’d already though? Maybe hang a ghost on their mailbox? or on their monitor? I’ll have to think about it.

  • Gudrun

    October 12, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    thanks for the comprehensive Boo information. I have to wait each year to get Boo’d, because I am not clever enough to keep last year’s information. I love this tradition, and it only started happening after we had kids 🙂
    I took it to work last year and tweaked my poem a little bit, and in the poem suggested hanging the sign on your cube to avoid being re-Boo’d. The people who participated thought it was fun, but unfortunately it did not reach as far as I had hoped. I think it is a great idea!

  • Cindy

    October 4, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Just wanted to let you know that I have a new version of “BOOING” this year.
    I hope you will check it out!