Have you heard of Halloween Boo Bags? If you're unfamiliar, here's a definition from the crabby Halloween Grinches at Slate, who describe the tradition thusly: "It is when a person with far too much time on her hands puts together multiple Halloween-themed gift bags (the more Martha Stewart the better) with a standardized 'Boo' poem attached. She leaves one on your doorstep in the middle of the night. You open the door in the morning and you've been 'Boo'd.' The whole thing is a pumpkin-seed-brittle-fueled chain letter. What sane woman would do this to another woman?"
Damn, who peed in your candy corn, Slate? As for MY take on Boo Bags: they're fun, they're super-easy (trust me, if they required enormous amounts of time or Martha Stewart-level skills, you would not be hearing about this idea from me), and kids go absolutely crazy for them.
Want to spread a little extra Halloween cheer this month? I've got all the info you'll need.
The idea behind Boo Bags -- also known as Ghosting, or Boo-Gramming -- is pretty simple: you put together a little bag of treats, include a note with instructions and a sign, deliver it anonymously to a neighbor, and they ideally do the same. As more and more houses get gifted with bags, more and more Boo signs pop up around the neighborhood. That's actually the part my kids enjoy the most, walking around our block to see who's got their "We've Been Booed!" sign in the window or on the front door.
Start by targeting two or three houses to get the chain going. A Boo Bag can of course be filled with a visually appealing assortment of hand-crafted items and expensive homemade treats, but why do this to yourself? Make it simple (and less intimidating for your neighbors) by picking up a few cheap-but-fun items. Here are the contents of a Boo Bag I put together a couple years ago:
Making Boo Bags for houses with kids is even easier, since you can just toss in a couple fun Halloween toys, stickers, or pencils.
The next step is printing out a Boo sign and the instructions. A Google search for "boo bags" will give you all kinds of options for signs and the instructions, which are usually in the form of a poem:
The air is cool, the season fall,
Soon Halloween will come to all.
Ghosts and goblins, spooks galore ...
Tricky witches at your door.
The spooks are after things to do,
In fact a spook brought this "Boo" to you!
The excitement comes when friends like you,
Copy this note and make it two.
We'll all have smiles upon our faces,
No one will know who "BOO"ed whose places!
Just two short days to work your spell,
Keep it secret, hide it well.
Please join the fun, the season's here.
Just spread these "BOO's" and Halloween cheer.
Personally, I don't love the kinda-cheesy poem and its insistence that you spread cheer within two days because all us spooks don't have enough to do. I made my own signs, which you can view below and download in printable PDF form.
You can tell your recipients to photocopy the sign/instructions, but I like to make it easy on them by just printing extras. So for each bag, I include the treats, three printed Boo signs, and two instruction pages. This gives them enough material to Boo two more neighbors if they want to.
Finally, you assemble everything in a bag, take the kids, and go giggle-creeping out under cover of darkness to leave it on your neighbor's doorstep. You can ring the doorbell and run, but this has always struck me as a slightly creepy thing to do -- we just leave them there so they're discovered the next morning.
And that's all there is to it! Seriously: some cheap treats, a couple pieces of paper, a paper bag, and you're done. (Martha Stewart my ass.) Now you get to sit back and watch your neighbors join the fun tradition that you started, and eventually a little bag will arrive at your front door and your kids will go insane with joy. Everybody wins!
Have you done Boo Bags before?
Images via Linda Sharps