Many might save their hijinks for April Fool’s Day, but Halloween is the perfect time to truly catch someone off guard with a prank. With ghost stories and superstitions in the chilly air, even the slightest crunch of a leaf can send a shiver up someone’s spine which makes autumn the perfect season to pull a Halloween prank.
For some, Halloween is naturally a time for pranks — as many areas celebrate “Mischief Night” on October 30. Think TPing your neighbor’s house or placing a freaky Halloween decoration on their front doorstep. But even if you’re in a region that doesn’t celebrate Mischief Night, you can still keep the “trick” in “trick-or-treat” this holiday.
Whether you’re hoping to give your friend a good fright, or just want a wholesome laugh to celebrate the holiday now that you’re too old to go trick-or-treating, here are some easy Halloween pranks to pull this spooky season.
1. Mirror Writing
We’ve all drawn a smiley face on a fogged-up mirror, right? For Halloween, you’ll need to be a bit trickier to really scare someone. Before your significant other/roommate/sibling pops in the shower, use a bar of soap to write a creepy message on the mirror — such as “I’m watching you” or “I know what you did.” Use a bit of tissue to retrace the words, so that your message isn’t totally visible yet. Once the mirror is fogged, the words should become clear. Just listen for the yelp of panic.
2. Please Take One!
Here’s a classic prank that you’ve probably fallen for before. If you’re having trick-or-treaters over — or hosting a Halloween party — set up a human-sized decorative character on your porch. The character can be everything from scarecrow on a rocking chair to a mummy holding a candy bowl. Next, dress yourself up in the same costume and periodically switch the character out at random points in the night. Once someone gets close to choosing a candy from the bowl, start to move and they’re sure to jump right off your doorstep. See @haleyblazek’s take on the prank for inspiration.
3. Someone Up There?
If you’re at the office on Halloween or living somewhere with movable ceiling tiles, this prank is for you. Get a long hair extension or wig to tuck inside a ceiling tile so that it hangs down ominously. For added effect, make the hair look a little worse for wear (maybe even put some fake blood on it), and hang it in a room where people will have to flip the lights on.
4. Head in a Jar
This one takes a bit of work, but it’s so, so worth it. Take a photo of yourself looking a bit squished. You can easily do this with a funny facial expression, or even by changing the dimensions of the photo on your computer. Have it printed and laminated, and then stick it in a large jar filled with sickly-looking food coloring. Place it in your fridge, and wait for hungry guests to get a scare.
5. Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite
After a long night of Halloween celebrations, what most of us want to do is fall into bed and snuggle up. So imagine the terror your loved ones would feel when they pull back the covers and see a bunch of bugs have taken up residence? Fake bugs, of course. But they’ll be freaked out either way.
6. Surprise Snake
If you’re hosting a Halloween party, this is a good one for you. Use a rubber snake and some string to rig the snake to pop up whenever a cooler is opened for added realism, or simply place it in there for people to see when they grab a drink.
7. Apple Anyone?
This one is a bit mean — unless you know someone who really enjoys onions. The trick is to make a bunch of onions look like caramel apples so unsuspecting partygoers get a mouthful of yuck instead of a delicious Halloween treat. You make the onions as you would make caramel apples, and you should actually include a few real apples so the people with onions don’t catch on right away.
8. Only Take One
If you’re strapped for time, you can get a product that does the prank for you. You’ve likely seen the candy bowls with animated hands, which are a perfect pranky purchase because it never gets old watching little kids or unsuspecting adults jump when they reach in for a candy.
9. Fake Spider Anything
Not only are spiders very on-theme for Halloween, but any prank involving spiders — big ones, small ones, whatever — will scare most people. You can put a fake spider in someone’s car just above the door so they’re bound to notice it. You could rig a giant spider to swing down from the ceiling when kids come to your door for candy. You could even go the extra mile to get a remote-controlled spider to follow your party guests around.
10. Creepy Doll
Like spiders, creepy dolls will frighten most people. You can buy an already scary-looking baby doll — this one is sound and sensor operated — or you could make your own out of a thrift-store find. When no one is around, write something creepy on a notepad and place the marker in the doll’s hand. When people come back around, they’ll probably stay clear of the doll for the rest of the party.
11. Fake Ghost
This is the prank to end all pranks because it’s pretty elaborate. Have a friend dress up in some spooky attire — you know, tattered clothes, matted hair, ghostly makeup — and have them hang out in a few spots along your street so that people coming to your house will see them. Spark up a conversation if no one brings it up, and then act like your friends are joking with you. Ask them to describe what they saw and then tell them a fake ghost story involving a character that looks exactly like your friend in costume. Finally, complete the prank by having your ghost friend show up later to scare them!
12. Spooky Computer Glitch
As millennials, few things are scarier than when your electronics show signs of spam, so why not double down on the scaries and freak out your virtual partygoers with a fake computer glitch? If you’re hosting a Zoom party, share your screen as if you’re going to show a cool video, then play a computer glitch on YouTube. It doesn’t take much to send your guests into a tailspin, thinking their electronics have crumbled.
13. Creepy Sound Prank
The music always sets the scene! Play with the minds of your virtual partygoers by having spooky music playing in the background. Mix it up by starting and stopping the music at random times so no one is quite sure where it's coming from!
14. Take A Second Glance
It’s no secret that everyone is looking at your background during a Zoom call. Pictures of your friends and family? So last year. Give your friends a reason to double-take with scary changing portraits and spice it up with some acting skills. Is the portrait really changing or are your virtual guests seeing things?
15. Haunted Drone
If you have a drone, Buzzfeed recommends attaching some sort of ghost or witch figure to the drone and flying it around your neighborhood. Wait for someone to catch it, then see your entire neighborhood look up with horror at the sky.
16. Ice Cube Surprise
If you’re serving cocktails (or any drink) at your party, prep some freaky ice cubes with gummy eyeballs or bugs planted in them. Wait for your guests' drink to melt a bit, and you might have a few complaints about the cleanliness of your soiree. Just be sure to only include edible items in the ice to avoid a choking hazard.