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I grew up with a fairly normal childhood, including night games in the city cemetery. Ok, maybe not so normal. But between that and a fall birthday, it’s no wonder this time of year brings out the mischief in me. That is why I decided to unlace my notions of the pagan celebration and write a post about Halloween pranks.

First, the ground rules—I don’t believe in vandalism—no eggs on paint, smashed pumpkins (someone took care to carve them), or any type of property damage. However. . . there is still room for good humor.

First idea is the stuffed scarecrow that sits innocuously on the porch for a week or two prior to Halloween. Then on Halloween night, the stuffing is removed and a resident dons the old clothes and hat. When trick or treat visitors come to the door, after they receive their candy, the scarecrow comes alive. A simple “Care to share?” is sufficent.

On the same theme, last year we spent the evening at a cousin’s house. While there we went to a brother’s for homemade donuts and walked down the street to see the best lawn ornament. It was a grim reaper, ten feet tall, that stood very still at the end of the walk up to the house. As the children left with their treats, the reaper fell silently in line behind them. He must have been on stilts of some sort.

This link teaches the perfect 3-part set up for surprising trick or treaters.

A reversal is the child manikin that is dressed in a costume and placed on a doorstep with his sack extended.

Some simpler pranks would be:

Instead of smashing pumpkins, just rotate them around from one house to the next. Or later gather them all into one person’s front yard.

Fork the yard: 500 plastic forks stuck into the yard. (A host of pink flamingos if you have them is startling.)

Spray Chalk a wall. Later it washes off easily. Messages can be friendly: ‘Happy Haunting,’ informative: ‘no chocolate here,’ or mischievous: ‘party inside, come on in.’

Tie fishing line to a large candy bar or, after dark, a glow stick and place it on the sidewalk. When someone stops to pick it up, reel it along.

Move something from its place like patio furniture. Bigger items take more muscle. Don’t vandalize, but with 8-10 guys you could move a small car to a different driveway.

Hang something high in a tree that shouldn’t be there—a bicycle, playhouse, etc. Use strong rope and pick a sturdy branch. Choose something from their yard, or bring something ridiculous like an inflatable penguin.

When you attend a party, on the bathroom mirror leave a message.

If entertaining, the old fashioned, guts in the bowl in always good for a new generation. Check out the above Martha Stewart link. It also has some ideas on bobbing for apples.

Serve one caramel onion among the carmel apples or a slightly cooked Brussels sprout dipped in chocolate among marshmallows.

Be creative, but choose your audience. Give children the kind of slight startled scream that ends in relieved laughter. Don’t give them nightmares.

For older ‘kids’ who are much too big to be doing this anymore, who wear cheap costumes consisting of a single mask or gruesome face paint and carry large pillowcases weighed down with tons of candy–for them, Do Not hold back! Twin creepy costumes that tag-team is a common idea on the web. Have one follow them for awhile, then duck behind a fence or tree. Then the second one jumps out in front of the beggars.

I’d like to spread the word for every one handing out candy to save a bag of “dum dums” (I don’t care if the same bag serves several years) just for the older bell-ringers. But don’t let them see what you put in their sack. You don’t want to wake up to a yard full of soggy TP.

One last note: this week I was on Family Search and I started tracing a line from my grandma. It was the royal Stewart line of Scotland. I was getting impressed with the lords and ladies, a countess, a duke, and then a few kings. After a few generations the line went from Scotland to France (where one of the mothers in this direct line was simply listed as “a concubine”), to Brittany where it ended in the Fourth Century AD. And then, there on the screen, was listed Conan Meriadoc, King of Brittany, born about 305 AD. Otherwise known as “Conan the Barbarian.” Yep, so much for a prestigious royal line. I showed my husband and he said, “Well, that explains a few things.”

Happy Haunting everyone.