“Why We Celebrate” looks at holidays, occasions, and traditions from all over the world, and explains their origins, the meaning behind them, and the reasons we observe them. Sure, you can stuff some candy in a bag and call it good, but if you really want to get creative, read on to learn tips and tricks for how to boo someone.

Halloween is nearly here. Ghastly ghosts and ghouls lurk in the shadows, waiting for just the right time to leap out and make their frightful presence felt.

Photo of Halloween cookie ad

While the trick-or-treaters may not start gobblin’ up their candy until All Hallows’ Eve, the booing starts now. No, we are not referring to making your crush your boyfriend or girlfriend (or “boo,” as the kids call it). Instead, we are talking about the relatively recent Halloween tradition of booing your friends, neighbors, loved ones, and even strangers.

So, what is booing, and how do you go about executing an effective boo?

Photo of girl with boo mask

We are so glad you asked. Here is a one-stop guide for how to boo someone, along with some special booing advice from a certified booing expert.

What is ‘booing’?

Unlike the booing traditionally heard in sports stadiums across the world, this type of booing is meant to spread joy and the holiday spirit. Simply put, it involves blessing your booing target with treats, themed gifts, and a challenge to continue spreading the boo.

The practice dates back to the 1980s in the United States. It has been known by many names throughout the years, including “ghosting” and “hobgoblining.”

Now, it is commonly known as booing, and its popularity is booming.

How to ‘boo’ someone

Booing people begins with a selfless gesture and spreads (if done properly) like a delightful plague. The most common booing method is to prepare delicious treats and goodies in a bag (or box) — complete with a “you’ve been booed” note — that is then sneakily dropped off to a friend or neighbor.

To spark this flame of fun, however, you must be sure to execute your boo correctly — that is, the booing needs to be continued. No matter what you decide to put in the bag — homemade treats, store-bought sweets, thoughtful messages, etc. — it is crucial to include a special note that encourages the recipient to pass the booing on to at least two other friends.

Photo of boo bags

There’s definitely a strategy to booing, as pointed out by Kendra Montante — and she should know. Montante is affectionately known as “The Boo Lady,” a moniker she received after writing the book Booing: A Halloween Tradition, which shows how small acts of kindness can build up a community.

While booing does require a certain approach, it’s important to realize that there really is no wrong way to do it — as long as the intention is pure.

“Booing is regional. In my area [the suburbs of Detroit], we tend to pack two bags of treats, sneak out at night, and take them to the neighbors’ or friends’ houses, put them on the porch, ring the doorbell, and run and hide. That’s being booed!” she said. “Still, it happens so much and it’s so widespread that it takes on different forms all throughout the country.”

Some people might fill entire driveways with candies and treats, she said. Others take a more 21-plus approach and opt for boo-zing their friends (where you leave beer, wine, or liquor as a surprise).

Want to know how to boo? Here are three easy steps to bringing Halloween joy throughout your neighborhood.

Prepare the packages

To start, you will need to prepare the packages with which you are booing. You can use candy, but feel free to get creative. Consider adding Halloween-themed crafts, toys, family games, and other goodies to the loot.

Photo of kids making Halloween crafts

Once you have stuffed those surprise sacks full of fun and delicious items, attach a note to the bag that says something like “You’ve Been Booed.” (Just don’t include who it’s from!) This is the signal that your boo beneficiaries should continue the tradition and pass the boo along to whoever they see fit.

Deliver the goods

Now comes the time to channel your inner ghoul and be as sneaky as you can be. As the blanket of darkness descends on the night, float like a ghost to your neighbors’ or friends’ homes.

Photo of kid dressed as a ghost at front door

Under the cover of darkness, deliver the goods. Quick as a cat, ring the doorbell and run  you do not want to be seen! If you wish, you can stay within eyesight and earshot to watch the discovery of your Halloween treats.

Spread the boo

Beginning a boo is undoubtedly an exhilarating experience. What makes booing truly unique, though, is its ability to spread those energizing feelings far and wide. As such, your responsibility as boo-er does not stop when you deliver the sweets and treats to your selected boo-ees.

A boo will likely spread auto-magic-ally, but that does not mean you should sit idly by. Make it a priority to share the ins and outs of booing with everyone you know. The idea is just as contagious as the act, and before you know it, the whole neighborhood will be caught up in this festive tradition.

Author

Beginning her writing career as a print journalist, Hanna Marcus worked as a beat reporter and general assignment reporter in newsrooms throughout Florida including The Tampa Bay Times, The Orlando Sentinel, The Naples Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun. Now a full-time freelance writer, she writes for clients such as Hot Topic, New Balance, BoxLunch, and others.

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