Summer Pranks

This week, we’re staying at our cousin’s house in Colorado, and yesterday morning, we woke up to find the house had been toilet-papered! Our little kids were wide-eyed with fascination and delight — they had never witnessed anything like this before.

Did you ever go toilet-papering as kid? As a teenager, I loved it. It felt sneaky, and a little cheeky (toilets!), but ultimately harmless. I ran with a pretty straight-laced group of friends (no drinking or partying), so toilet-papering was a good outlet for excess energy on the weekend. We would toilet paper friends’ homes, the homes of boys we had crushes on, even the homes of teachers we knew could take a joke. And I loved when my house was the target as well. I felt like it implied that people knew my family had a sense of humor.

In contrast, a friend that grew up on the East Coast, told me toilet-papering was considered as serious vandalism in her town, and that people were offended by it. So I know it means different things in different communities.

What’s your take: Innocent pastime? Or would you be offended if your house was toilet-papered (no egging, no forks in the lawn, just plain-old toilet paper)? Did you ever try it as a kid? Would you let your own kids toilet-paper someone’s house?

Image here.

118 thoughts on “Summer Pranks”

  1. I guess I view it more on the side of vandalism, but I’ve never partaked or seen it done in person. Maybe you could explain what forks in the lawn is though…?

  2. my SIL takes her kids and their friends TP-ing whenever they have sleep-overs. they always check with the home owners first (to make sure folks won’t be offended) and they also always go and clean it up the next day for the homeowners as well … i like that added detail!

    where i grew up, it was something you did to folks you didn’t like (and was usually accompanied by egging and forking), so i’m not a huge fan. however, the way folks look at it here in Omaha, i may have to convert!

  3. We did it all the time growing up! It was so fun. In turn our house got it too, a lot. But it was never to be mean, it was always like you said, friends houses or boys we liked :)

  4. Toilet papering is actually a time-honored tradition at my college, called “Rolling the Quad”. After we win a game, we decided it was too much trouble to go TP the loser’s school, and so we just toilet paper the trees and bushes on our upper quad. The year we qualified to go to the Orange Bowl, the quad was so covered in TP that it looked like a blizzard, with Wait Chapel rising above the “snow”. You can actually still buy a picture of that in the campus bookstore. Good times!

  5. That photo is lovely, so artistically done!

    But where I grew up, in central Illinois, I would have been horribly ashamed if our house had been the target. TP-ing was done as an act of bullying.

    It’s so interesting to know that it could have regional meaning!

  6. TPing a yard in Connecticut was definately considered mean. My brother was accused of TPing a teacher’s yard (which he did not do) and the teacher still holds it against my family, 20 years later! I wonder if the fun/mean line is draw dependant on the rain/ humidity levels. It is actually pretty hard to clean up if it gets wet.

    1. I just came here to say that (about the rain!). It was generally considered harmless in my neighborhood growing up (northern suburbs of Chicago) but if it rained…. oy. That was no good.

  7. Oh Goodness. I grew up in Texas where it was pretty much the norm. That along with stealing street signs and traffic signs too. It is what slumber parties were made of.

    When we moved to Colorado in High School here, it was pretty much the same. One time my now brother in law t-peed our house. We lived on a corner, so it was even more prominent. Him and a bunch of his wrestling team friends did this to “express their love and fondness” for my sister. My Mom was so done at that point since they were Seniors and she had had more t-peeing experiences with 2 daughters then she could remember. She made my sister call all of them up to come and clean it up the next day. I am pretty sure she was mortified, but hey it all worked out in the end since they are happily married.

    Best part though, every time someone would come and t-pee our house my Mom would save all of the toilet paper in large trash bags and make us use it. And only when the bag was gone could we get a new roll.

    Thanks for bringing back the memories this morning!

  8. I loved tping! I’m pretty sure my parents knew what was going on, but never pressed for information when I was sneaking out the door with 30 rolls of toilet paper. Same for us–tping meant someone had a crush on you.

  9. My father was a high school teacher and the head basketball coach. To make matters worse, our house was two blocks from the school. Waking up to toilet paper all over our house was the norm.

    Every so often, my Dad would catch wind of a TP plan in advance. Then he’d wait in the bushes with the garden hose. Those nights were the best.
    Giggle, giggle, shh, shh, giggle, giggle, SCREAM!!!

  10. I don’t like it. At my high school, it was a sign you weren’t liked. During my senior year, two girls tp’d my house as a loud-and-clear message that they hated me. (Short story: I become popular that year after losing weight, and they didn’t like that the shy, introverted chubby girl had a change in status. Ironically, enough, the shy, introverted chubby girl didn’t like it, either, but that’s another story.)

    It was horrible, and cost my parents a great expense because when the sprinklers come on, all that toilet paper gets wet and sticks to the trees. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon without hired help.

    So, no, I don’t think it’s funny or cheeky or even remotely amusing. ;)

    1. Oh, and in case I didn’t get the message the first time, they did it again the weekend after my parents paid to have it cleaned up. Then they bragged about it at school. This was all during the rainy season, of course…

        1. Oh, no clean-up professional. :) Just gardeners with really tall ladders! We had orange groves and at the time they extended to the front yard. Hah! They got me good.

  11. It had mixed messages where I grew up (farm town, Illinois). Sometimes it was directed towards people you didn’t like, sometime towards those you did (and knew could take it). The one and only time I accompanied a TP mission (with a half dozen friends) my mom discovered our dark o’night activities and made me go clean it all up the next day. Thank heaven we’d only hit a couple houses. And we’d done it in fun, not out of meanness. Such a party pooper my mom. To be fair, she taught in the school I went to and our house was often tp’d, usually by kids who were mad at her/didn’t like her. Huh. I was usually stuck cleaning THAT up too. Harumph.

  12. Yep, east coaster here, and TPing was only done (as far as I know) to someone you didn’t like as form of bullying, or possibly as a random act of vandalism. It never happened to us, but I think a person whose home was TPd would feel victimized and pissed. I consider it equivalent to egging, but probably harder to clean up, and possibly more wasteful. I agree with the earlier comment that wet TP would be no fun at all to clean up, and maybe it rains more out here than it does in the west….

    1. Too funny! It’s the opposite in dry climates. Our house was egged once and we never did figure out how to get it cleaned all the way up. It absolutely baked on to the stucco.

      1. Ooh, hot egg on stucco does not sound good–I never thought about that. We were the victims of a random egging one Halloween–they hit our brick garage, which was obnoxious, but was pretty easy to scrub off the next day. Cool, damp weather certainly helps in that situation.

      2. We had the same–egg on stucco. It was late at night while it happened, I was a teenager upstairs re-decorating my room with my light on, so I think it was simply someone awake that they saw. It was a desert climate, so the windows were open…egg on the screen, window, stucco, carpet inside. Normally I’d be flattered with TPing, but that made me mad. It was mean, and I wanted to find out who did it.

  13. wow! That picture really brought back some memories. Growing up in a family of 7 in Southern California, my older brothers’ friends (I am the youngest. out of 5 boys & 2 girls) TP’d our house alot! It was really innocent fun! One time my parents were so enthralled by the TP job, they actually took pictures. Our entire house, a one-story California Ranch, and large front yard with tall trees, was completely covered in TP. You could see any grass or the house itself. What a time we had picking that up. Thanks for the great memory.

  14. Ah yes! I was in the “good kid” group too. We didn’t drink. We didn’t throw crazy parties. But we DID do lots of pranks, mostly on the boys. There were lots of nights of toilet-papering (tee-pee-ing we called it), forking, leaving cryptic messages spelled out in goldfish crackers on front steps and cramming 12 people into one car to speed away. Minus the bad driving, it was all harmless fun.

  15. In my neck of the woods it was done affectionately, but perhaps it was just my group of friends. I knew some fellows at my high school who did it spitefully. My parents always preferred us to “heart attack” people by covering their lawn with construction paper hearts on skewers. All the sneaking fun with no doubt behind the meaning.

    Of course, it is probably because my mom felt that toilet papering was an expensive and wasteful pastime. Sometimes we’d just put one package on a doorstep with a note saying “You’ve been TPed by a Pollock.”

    1. There’s no getting around that it’s wasteful, but probably less than you might think when you look at images. I remember we could make quite an impact with 4 or 5 rolls.

  16. While it seems harmless, I think it seems wasteful to be throwing away all these toilet paper. (even if some toilet paper are made from recycled paper.) Sorry for being a party-pooper.

  17. I admittedly think it’s a childhood/tween must. I LOVED doing it when I was a kid. In fact, I remember, one of the most fun I had with my parents (gasp!) was when they took us to toilet paper our aunt and uncle! It was so fun, and I still love them for it. If it’s all in good fun I’m a fan. Let kids be kids!

  18. Wow! That looks like a nightmare to clean!! And so high up!!! Around here you don’t see it often…it’s seen as vandalism (on par with graffiti). The kind of thing where if you TP’d someone’s house, they would find you and beat you up. I’m fascinated by your account of it being seen as harmless fun in your neck of the woods. That sounds nice. :)

  19. Maybe it seems more innocent and fun in dryer climates? if it rains on the TP, what a huge mess. I grew up in Ohio, and TPing definitely was a form of bullying there – the “cool” kids used to TP less popular kids’ homes. Sorry – I don’t find anything charming about it.

  20. I grew up in the east and it was definitely a “mean” thing to do. Plus it’s so wet most of the time that it made a huge, soggy, uncleanable mess! But if it’s good clean fun in the desert, then I say go for it :)

  21. I’m from Scotland, and I’ve never even heard of this before. It seems incredibly wasteful, and not a little bizarre. The closest we have here is knocking on someone’s door and running away. Or perhaps it’s equivalent to some kids who would throw flour and eggs at someone on their birthday. In general, girls who were too pretty, too clever, or too something else, were targeted. It was a pretty horrible bullying tactic, and if I’m honest, this smacks of that too. Whilst I’m sure some people find it fun, and funny, I’m sure that vast majority of teenagers who have this happen to them feel mortified and victimised.

    Aside from all that, I just can’t get over how wasteful it is!

    1. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

      It is a little weird.

      The knocking on the doors we did when we were little…and it was considered very naughty.

      Ring the doorbell and it is called “Ding-dong ditch”

      No doorbell at the house? “Knock-knock scram!”

  22. I grew up on in New England and it’s definitely a form of bullying. I can’t even imagine wasting all that toilet paper either though. It does sound in the spirit of “flocking” that we do there though. If your house is “flocked” you wake up to several dozen pink flamingos hanging out on your lawn. The fun is in picking the next house to secret “flock” overnight!

  23. I grew up in Tennessee and it was usually something you did when you didn’t like the person. And it rains all the time there. In Colorado, with few trees as there are here :) and as little rain as we get it might not be quite the same thing.

  24. Definitely a fun thing to do in Northern California. I was in the “good kids” group as well, and we spent our summers doing funny stuff like this. It was usually boys v. girls. Once the boys found a double oven in front of someone’s home labeled ‘free’ so when all of the girls were gathered at a house they would move it behind one of the girls’ car so she couldn’t’ get out. It was always so funny to come outside to this huge oven! It eventually was donated after a few weeks of fun. Another time we had a boys v. girls ‘war’ where the girls spent the night at a house about 5 minutes away from where the boys were spending the night. You were allowed to TP, use water balloons/hoses, or try to scare each other. We went back and forth all night (until us girls decided to stop and talk and make cookies and the boys not only TP’d but also snuck around back and jumped by the window and scared us so bad! We retaliated by coming over at about 6 in the morning and waking them up. We all get together now, 10 years later, and talk about it as one of our favorite nights.
    So basically, if your house was targeted it meant that out of all the girls, they picked your house to get! What an honor :)

  25. TPing was definitely vandalism where I grew up in NE Oklahoma. It was usually only done because someone didn’t like someone else. A common thing was to dump a bunch of the TP in the backyard pool, too. For several people in our neighborhood that meant hundreds of dollars to completely replace the pump. So, TPing as a whole began to be quite an awful thing to do. Actually, forking occasionally happened. It was considered to be all in good fun.

  26. We live in a wet area and it’s still not all that hard to clean up. We even use to use the hose to spray it down when it got stuck way up in the trees.

    Around here it’s tradition for high school kids to roll their dates house the wednesday before homecoming. It’s called White Wednesday. The kids go in big groups, design matching t-shirts, there are huge displays and discounts on toilet paper around homecoming time and frequently parents are driving.

  27. It was just good clean fun where I came from-small town Iowa. I fondly recall TPing a teacher’s house. We adored her and she laughed about it with us after the fact. We did also help her clean up though.
    I see no harm in it. There are plenty of things teens can occupy their time with that are much more harmful or disrespectful. I would have no qualms about my teen TPing as long as it was done as good clean fun.

  28. I have never done it, and I do find it a bit funny. However, if I had kids and their friends toilet papered our house, I would definitely be calling their parents to tell their children to come on over and assist my children clean it up. You make the mess, you clean it up! Thoroughly!

  29. Another east coast-er here, and I agree that I thought of TPing as a form of bullying or vandalism. It’s kind of like egging someone’s house–not dangerous, but definitely mean-spirited. But I also don’t remember anyone really doing this in my high school/neighborhood.

  30. My mom was against it and told me I’d be in big trouble if she ever found out (in our tiny, tiny small town) that I had been doing it. My best friend’s mom always drove the getaway car (a hoopty caddy) and I just rode along. To this day, I can honestly say that I never threw a roll, but was always there. And here, it was all in good fun, usually done to someone you liked – girls wrapped boy houses, and vice versa.. Eggs were a no-no. We even put un-used pads on boyfriends tires and stuff. Why? I have no idea, but as teenagers, we thought it was funny. If my house ever got wrapped, my parents made ME clean it up, which I thought was grossly unfair. It wasn’t my fault that some guy decided to do that! :)

  31. New Englander here, and TPing was definitely vandalism. I only heard of it happening to one girl in high school and she was not well liked. As I recall she graduated early to get out of town. :-/

  32. Grew up in California where TP’ing was good, clean fun. It was more of an affectionate prank as we only TP’d the houses of people we liked. I would much rather have my house TP’d than egged or paint-balled.

    1. I’m from California, and in my city (or at least my high school) it was a form of bullying. I think it depends more on the motives of the kids TP’ing or maybe even the city culture. Who knows!

  33. This was a tradition in our small east coast town. Most often on “mischief night,” the night before Halloween. It was a big deal, because you would get in huge trouble if you were caught. It was a sign of disrespect to the home owners.

  34. In Utah it was/is a funny thing. It was good-natured teasing where I come from. It’s funny this is posted now, two weeks ago we were TP’d and my husband and I had a good laugh about it. Egging is a whole different story, but TP is funny and fun to me.

  35. Where we grew up this was considered a compliment or an honour -albeit a tacky one! The more elaborate the job the more of the compliment implied. Often, at HS year end awards assemblies, teachers would eagerly await the announcement of which teacher earned the most “awards” that year from their devoted students.

    I remember the year my brother and his “team” were challenged. This was back when you could purchase t.p. in vibrant colours, turquoise, orange, lime green, you name it. We had all gone with him to do the deed and we walked away knowing we had won. We had swags, florettes, poms, and all manner of streaming. The nail in the coffin was the actual toilet our mom had found abandoned in a field. It was clean, so it went in the center of the yard with rainbows streaming, dare I say flowing forth onto the yard. Yes, it won him a prom date of the young woman who lived there.

    Those you wanted to “dis” were simply given a “four pack” of the cheapest t.p. available with a sticky note that read “do it yourself” placed on the door step. Or a “misplaced” real estate sign that managed to find its’ place in your front lawn, suggesting “you need to move”.

    “Forking”* came into play much later, but again, when done with flair, is considered a compliment, as are “popcorning” a door** and or giving someone a “heart attack”.*** These are up there with unscrewing any creme centered sandwich cookie (oreo, nutter butter) and placing said cookies on windows of your loved one’s vehicle (hopefully after filling the vehicle with balloons).

    Absolutely forbidden was the egging or flaking****, which was destructive and vandalism. Unfortunately my brother also involved himself in this activity which ended him providing free lawn care service (among other indignities) for a year to the recipient. Lesson: play nice with things that can be easily removed without doing harm to anyone or anything!

    *Forking = placing the prong end of disposable plastic forks into a lawn in decorative or random patterns
    **Popcorning =using butcher paper taped to size, a message or greeting such as “let it snow!” is written on the paper. The paper is then taped to the exterior front door frame, making sure to leave a small space at the top wherein popped popcorn may be lowered into the space created. When the recipient opens the door in the morning, the popcorn falls into the house, creating “snow” on an otherwise normal morning.
    ***Heart Attack = cutting a few hundred paper hearts and taping them to a spike of some kind (skewer, plastic fork, knife, etc.) and then placing said hearts all over a loved one’s lawn. Messages may be written suggesting the depth of devotion intended.
    ****Flaking =sprinkling any flake type cereal all over someone’s lawn, which, when the dew comes in the morning will decompose too quickly to remove, thus rot, stink, invite all manner of creepy crawlies, and eventually destroy said lawn. When (not if) caught, persona involved will be prosecuted and punished to the inth degree by goodly parents who wish their offspring to learn a lesson for life and never forget it, and perhaps even by the police.

  36. This was a favorite pastime of my best friend and her parents. I have many great memories rolling yards. However, it is important to target people who can hang and who can take a joke…sometimes, our targets didn’t appreciate the love we were trying to share!

  37. Grew up in TX with a Jr. High Football coach for a father, so our house was TP’d more than once and it was always in good fun. My friends and I did it, too, to boys we had crushes on and our friends. One time, my dad knew that one of his favorite students was having a slumber party and he saw on the invite that it said to bring toilet paper. When he woke up the next morning to a front yard a snowy white (in June. in TX.), he had no doubts who was behind it. He called the student’s house and told her mom, “I think your daughter and her friends left some personal items outside my house” and they came back to clean it up. My mom went and got them all donuts and they had the best time ever. I don’t think they would have done it to any other teacher, they knew he would get a kick out of it.

  38. Growing up in Colorado we did it and it was great fun! Once it snowed over the tp and froze. That was not good. I was always bummed no one tp’d me. Now we live in Hawaii and I’ve never seen a house tp’d.

  39. I had a slumber party one year, and my best friend’s twin brother had a small sleepover as well with our guy friends. My BFF’s parents called ahead to be sure it would be ok with my parents and gave them an ETA- we are in Texas, and my Dad is a hunter. You get the picture! Anyway, they wanted to be sure it was just all in fun. We were still up when they were wrapping, and we chased them and caught them in the act. The funniest part was catching my friends’ Mom wearing a highlighter yellow sweater to drive the getaway car. Ha! They made arrangements to come back in the morning with doughnuts to clean up- we had super tall trees. Before the left for the night we all threw each other in the pool- the parents laughed, and it was one of the best parties ever. Intent is everything with these things. Eggs, shaving cream, etc that can cause permanent damage is not funny no matter what. But, where I grew up it was all in fun and usually done among friends. It all washes out in the end at some point. I count myself lucky if that is the worst thing to happen in my week!

  40. I grew up in Chicago and I think opinions are mixed… Like another commenter said it was somtimes accompanied with eggs, never to my house but to friends of mine… something to do with stealing a boyfriend. On the other hand, in highschool I played sports and the seniors on the team would TP the houses of the underclassmen if the team advanced in the state playoffs, it was usually accompanied with funny signs and balloons, semi-motivational. :o) We carried on the tradition my senior year.

  41. I have a distinct middle-school memory of picking up dewy toilet paper one Saturday morning at 6AM–right after my dad woke up; he didn’t let that kind of thing sit. When I told one friend about it, she talked about how she wished it had happened to her and I was totally flummoxed. You definitely need to know your target in order for it to be fun for both sides.

  42. Heh, I wonder if this is something religious kids are really into? When I was very involved w my church youth group in High School it was just how you describe it–kind of flattering to get TP’ed (though my parents always made the guys come back over and clean up the next morning). I never went, but we got hit a few times.

  43. Reading about these regional differences is really amusing. In Minneapolis/St. Paul, where I was born and raised, it was considered vandalism. Just a few hours south in small town Iowa where I now live, it’s considered an honor to be TP’d. About ten years ago my parents moved to a small town in Minnesota where they celebrate “corn night” every October 30th. Teenagers go around town throwing corn on people’s driveways and sidewalks. I had never heard of that before they moved there. It’s got to be the most anticlamactic prank ever!

  44. I wouldn’t say I would be offended, but I certainly wouldn’t be happy. The cleanup is the worst! And I wouldn’t let my kids go TPing unless we knew the family well, knew they would help with the cleanup, and knew that no one would get upset…

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