Trick, not Treat

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Photograph: Liz West

I love Halloween. I don’t know why, but something stirs in my blood when I get to October. The pumpkins, the costumes, the horror movie marathons… and, of course, the infamous ‘Trick or Treat’ tradition.

I know what you’re thinking – isn’t she a little old now for Trick or Treating? Well, for the latter, maybe so: now I just buy a mixed bag of chocolates rather than harassing old people who can be notoriously cranky about getting up to answer their doorbell for [insert generic Halloween costume here]. But the tricks?

You can never be too old for those. I personally love the reactions on hidden camera shows (anybody remember the dog/spider hybrid video? YouTube it!), and as many people will have settled in with their flatmates by now, I think it’s totally reasonable to play a few little jokes. Taking inspiration from the Number Of The Beast, I have devised a list of six harmless tricks that are guaranteed to get a reaction out of your flatmates, friends and family. A word of warning though – they may just try and prank you in return!

  • Magnet Messages – Poundland are selling sheets of magnetic letters dripping with blood. Each night before bed, go into your kitchen and create spooky messages on the fridges. Then the next morning when your flatmates are innocently after some milk for their cereal they will freak when the phrase “I’m watching you” has appeared out of nowhere.
  • Satanic Ritual – No, not a real one. Go into the kitchen and pour salt on the floor in the shape of a pentagram. You could also arrange a few candles. If anybody asks you why it’s there, tell them you are having some friends over a little later for a séance. Keep your face deadpan and watch their eyes bulge. Priceless.
  • Pumpkin Carving – Sainsbury’s are selling pumpkins right now for around £2 each. Carve an evil face and place a candle (preferably electric – it needs to be if you’re on campus!) inside. Then comes the tricky part. On campus the only rooms that usually aren’t lit automatically are the bedrooms/bathrooms so wait until you know your flatmate is safely out of the way and then place the lit pumpkin in total darkness, waiting for their return.
  • Spider in the Bed – Another one which requires bedroom access and careful planning but is so simple. Buy a rubber spider (Poundland again is a good shout) and plant it near the bottom of their mattress. This way they probably won’t pull back the covers enough to see it. Then, once they climb into the bed in darkness, wait for the screams.
  • Phone Hacking – When your friend leaves their phone lying around, upload the theme tune from Halloween and change it to their ringtone then put it back where you found it. Later, when you know they’re alone, ring them. (I had a horror movie soundtrack on my mp3 player and that song came on shuffle once at night while walking home – I can guarantee it really works!)
  • Masks – An oldie but a classic. Knock on your flatmates door dressed in the freakiest mask you can find but avoid being in view of the peephole. When they open the door, get ready to roar!

One last thing – don’t let this list limit you! There are so many more pranks out there to be discovered that Tricking doesn’t have to be reserved for one night a year. Because let’s be honest: growling ‘seven days’ down the phone to the takeaway man is acceptable all year round.