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. Lots! We had so much fun doing it and having it done to your house was so fun. I think my house was “rolled” 2x in high school if memory serves.

  2. I grew up toilet papering….or TPing as we called it. Almost every weekend in the summer either were TPing or getting TPed. My mom would take us to the store and get toilet paper and then drive us to our target. She would normally sit in the car as a look out and flash the lights if she saw anything, but sometimes she would help us do the duty.

    We did more than just TPing though…we would write with soap on their drive way (when it rains it would show up over and over again), we would “fork them” (put forks in their grass and break the tops off…they figured out they were forked when they mowed), etc. It didn’t stop just because the weather changed though. In the winter we would put glitter on the top of the snow so when it melted it was all in their grass :)

    It was all in fun and games. Believe me we got our fair of return treatment. My mom would wake up to the sound of a toilet paper roll hitting the ground. LOL Once when our house was being TPed we let off bottle rockets from the back of our house and scared them away.We had fun and the fact that my mother was in on it with us made it even more memorable!

    It isn’t vandalism….after all they TPed in the Bible…Zechariah 5:1…”Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll.” LOL :)

  3. My oldest daughter’s friends TP our house every year on Halloween. You can tell who the culprits are because only the houses of their friends have been hit in the morning :). THAT (your photo), by the way, is an impressive TP job!

  4. I have to say this is a great Monday post. I am right in line with you. This was about as wild as I got and it was all good fun. Loved going out to TP and thought it was fun when it happened at our house. I know it will only be a few years before my kids are going to want to do this and I might want to go with -ha!
    xo . trina

  5. TPing is definitely not as bad as egging, but still it was usually something people did to be mean when I was growing up. I never would have done it. And the idea of letting my kids do it is just crazy to me. I guess maybe if I also “let” them clean up after themselves?

  6. I’ll be honest. If I woke up to a yard full of toiler paper, I would be livid. And if I found out my son had done it to someone else (he’s only three, but just saying) I would make him clean it up after a long lecture. I think it is incredibly disrespectful. If that makes me a big stick in the mud, so be it.

  7. Another New Englander here… it was always vandalism when I was growing up… like egging and spray paint… Growing up the daughter of a school bus driver (who took her bus home each day/night) and a police officer… to say our house was a TARGET on halloween is an understatement… we resorted to tying our trained German shepard next to the school bus for the evening (in the protected car port)… just to keep the neighborhood kids from tagging the bus or trees…
    But those kids even spray painted the neighborhood cows on year…

  8. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

    I grew up in Chicagoland. TPing was mainly for sports…and the popular kids. Big game coming up meant TPing. However, my little band of geeks (think the arty kids mixed with the bowling team) decided it was for us too. On birthdays. We were such a group of goody-two-shoes that we called the parents to ask for permission and then went and cleaned it up the next day (hoping it had not rained). I do think it is kind of glorious looking.

  9. My parents didn’t allow it for several reasons but the primary one was that it was 100% wasteful. And this was the 70s/80s before people thought so much about eco-savvy. “Do you know how many people could wipe with that front yard?!” Haha! Plus, they thought it was a ridiculous waste of time.

    They never interefered with my dedicated love of the shoe polish on cars, though – much smaller carbon footprint, it seems.

  10. I grew up in Southern CAand it was considered fun in our neighborhood. Once our family awoke to find our house had been “streamered” instead of toilet papered. The colors were absolutely gorgeous and looked like a rainbow sat down in our front yard. To this day I never figured out who did it and I wished I had taken pictures.

  11. In California, especially the Bay Area, all the kids do it. Any sleepover usually has that on their list to do. Usually its the cute boys house or whoever did your yard last that gets it that night. When we get tp’ed we make our kids clean it up and we help with anything that is too high. It is a waste of toilet paper but I guess they could be doing much worse things late at night!

  12. julia g blair

    There was something quite stunning about the photo. TP- hanging from the trees!
    Some of our children participated in this when they were teens and I remember
    there were some neighbors who were NOT amused!

  13. There was a kid who did not like my older brother in high school, he egged our house regularly for years. This boy had other troubles with the law and would periodically get sent away, we would know when he was back because the eggs would hit the house. Toilet papering, egging, forking are all vandalism to me. I am generally annoyed when the mischievousness of others leads to extra work on my part.

  14. I grew up in Ontario (north eastern part) and tp-ing would have been a big no-no. Sure it happened, but if parents found out you were involved, you’d be grounded. If it happened to you, it would have been a signal that you or your sib was a social outcast. However, 2 hrs away in Quebec, there was an official night of pranking. The night before Halloween was/is called Mat Night where it was/is a tradition to do tp-ing or leave nasties on the front door mat (hence the name). Such treasures as dog-poop in a burning paper bag. And when you stamped it out…oy. That’s pretty hard core pranking to me. But I gotta know, what the heck is the fork thing?

  15. I love this post! I’m from TN, born and raised in a small town, and we definitely TP’d houses. Teachers, crushes, AND people that annoyed us, etc. The police would get you and call your parents if they caught you, but the fun part was the sneaking around to see if you could get away with it! We would dress in all dark clothes, wear masks, paint our faces…truly make a huge production of it.

    I remember TP’ing the house of a crush while at a slumber party and when I got home the next morning I found out that he had been out TP’ing my house the same night. It made for some great laughs! :)

    In our town, it was considered vandalism if you did things like egging houses and driving through the streets knocking down mailboxes with a baseball bat as you drove by. (NO, I NEVER DID THIS.) But we regularly stole street signs from teacher’s yards and then would put them in the school yard for them to find on Monday morning. All in good fun. No one told on anyone else and the teachers secretly felt good that they were considered to be a good sport. And yes, parents did the driving. ;)

    Our school even hosted a back to school party where you were expected to bring massive amounts of shaving cream and whipped cream and the entire high school would go to the field and halfway through the scheduled Ice Breaker games, someone would start by spraying down a teacher and then it was on! Their cars were not off limits. ;) Best memories ever!

  16. Growing up in TX, we did it, but it at slumber parties, but I never felt great doing it because when it as done to our house, I would always have to get up early and clean it up. Not fun with the humidity making the toilet paper mushy.

  17. I grew up on the East Coast (VA, DC suburb), and among my group of friends, it was definitely a friendly act. Often done to someone you had a crush on. We were actually caught once – by a cop! He lined up all 12 or so of us, and made us give him our names and phone numbers. I suppose he thought we were doing it out of meaning, or vandalism. In truth, it was to a boy that several of us liked. I distinctly remember him shining his flashlight right at me, and asking, “Are you in your pajamas?” Why yes, officer, I am. It’s called a sleepover!

  18. So I grew up in Littleton, so the fact that you’re there and it happened…just makes me smile.

    I think it was mostly something done nicely, but every once in a while could be mean spirited. We usually just targeted random families we knew–sometimes cute boys, other times just a well placed house–but we always knew who they were. We were in the 8th grade, and a lot of our targets were high schoolers. That’s probably why it was so random.

    My very favorite story ever is my friend and I decided to TP this girl we knew–again, we were in 8th grade, she was in 9th. We knew her but not well. We definitely weren’t enemies, but not close friends…anyway, in the middle of our fantastic TP job the front door opens and out runs a full grown man (the dad) chasing us down the street. I was PEEING MY PANTS. (Figuratively). My friend (who lived in the neighborhood and thus worried her parents would find out that we snuck out) stopped and begged him not to tell, promising him we’d clean it up. We walked back with him and started cleaning. His wife came out and they started chatting with us…when they found out we were “friends” with their daughter dad said, “Oh, go get the girls up…this will be great.” And we were like “No, no..haha…really it’s OK.” Not because we thought she’d be mad, but just because we felt stupid. Well she came out and was like “What are you guys doing?” And laughed. We all cleaned up, then we came inside for a soda. I KID YOU NOT. This was 2:00 in the morning. We sat there drinking soda’s with the family we had just TP’d (with parents I had never met before) and told funny stories about TP’ing and other silly nonsense. They sent us out the door with a “Well no more trouble for you girls tonight… walk home safely!” My friend and I just laughed and looked at each other like, did that really happen?

    Yes. Yes it did…

    I need to blog about that.

  19. Growing up in Northern VA (just south of DC), we bageled, as in, we visited the dumpster behind the bagle bakery(those were big in the 90’s right?)in the middle of the night and gathered trash bags of day old bagles. Then, by car, we traveled to an unexpecting friend/crush and tossed the bagels all over their lawn, not forgetting to stack a bunch on their car antenna. Fun and less wasteful than TP! Especially because, the one who got bageled could gather their bagels up and get someone else the next night.

  20. I’ve lived on the East coast most of my life, and I had no idea that there are many places in which this is considered just a harmless prank. In all of the communities in which I’ve lived, you might see it happen occasionally on Halloween, but I don’t think anyone doing it would want to be caught!

    It’s always interesting to learn about regional differences.

  21. It is interesting to me how the people who are commenting that they liked to tp are still quite sure that it is awesome and all in fun despite the great numbers who have commented that they would be livid.

  22. I have to say– I always loved waking up to see our house had been toilet papered! We had huge trees so it looked so beautiful! (Ironic, isn’t it?) And as you mentioned, it usually meant someone was thinking of you! Where I live most people think it is relatively harmless, but kids still get in trouble if they’re caught! It’s too bad, really, since it may get messy but it really isn’t harmful! We allow so few outlets for “sneaky” fun these days!

  23. Totally innocent! At least where I grew up. I once did an epic job at my best friend’s house and left a chocolate cake on her front door. She later told me that when she woke up she thought it had snowed! Although it wasn’t too fun to clean up considering my house had the most trees in the whole town.

    1. Certainly, a waste of toilet paper the same way a water balloon fight is a waste of water and rubber! Plus…if it’s dry you could always roll the TP up and use it again :)

  24. This was hugely popular when I was growing up in San Antonio. But it took a lot of toilet paper to do a proper job and all my friends saved any cash we had for gas money so we discovered forking instead. We all went off campus for lunch during the week so we’d each grab a handful of plastic forks at whatever restaurant we were at and by Friday night, it would normally be enough to fill a grocery bag. I don’t know where the tradition of forking came from but it’s a good one.

    Everyone we knew had cars (it’s Texas!) so my group became notorious for shoe polishing cars. Just the windows, of course, because that washes off. We’d leave goofy messages or draw silly pictures on the windows of boys we liked or our friends who were home on a Friday night because they were grounded – probably for getting busted for forking or shoe polishing someone’s car!

    Some kids would take For Sale signs from front yards and put them up in some random yard. We never did that because my mom was a realtor and that just seemed wrong to me. But it was funny! Especially if there was an Open House signed attached to it. Hee Hee Hee.

    Looking back on this now, I’m glad that I was doing this sort of thing rather than doing drugs or getting drunk and pregnant like so many other kids in my class.

  25. In my childhood neighborhood in Staten Island, NY it would probably have been thought of as a prank in the negative sense, but I don’t know any kids who would have been dedicated enough to do a good job–too lazy. We’d rather throw eggs and shaving cream at each other–and like it.

    I think it looks and sounds like a blast! If I had kids I’d probably introduce the neighborhood to the awesomeness of good, clean fun TPing.

  26. Wow, LOTS of comments on this one. If it’s just TP, I have no problem with it. I remember when my daughter was in junior high and she was having a sumber party. Some of the boys in her class, actually called me and asked if they could come TP our house – they were asking permission AND they needed me to come pick them up!
    I did :)

  27. I live in Kentucky and around here, I guess it’s considered more of an insult and act of vandalism. I don’t really see it very often. Our oldest son is 19 and one of the “pranks” that happens alot around here with his age group is writing/drawing on each other’s car windows with shoe polish or car markers. The kids say it’s all in good fun but I’ve seen some obscene messages and have told my son I better never catch him doing it, LOL!

  28. I think it depends on the “community”. I went TPing with my “church” friends where we TPd other members of our congregation as a prank (and never someone who couldn’t appreciate it or would have been flustered by the extra clean up work, ie. someone with no sense of humour, a young single mom or seniors/the elderly!) – one lady in our congregation actually told us she felt loved every time she got TPd (..leading to more TPing of her house!), but I never would have done it with my “school friends” – it would have been more of a vandalism plot with them. Also…I’m from BC, Canada. “Rainy season” is 10 months of the year. Waking up to a house covered in wet toilet paper is still much less offensive than waking up to a house/car that has been egged, which when dry can take off paint and is very hard to clean up, in my books. If it’s too wet to clean up TP…let it degrade!

  29. To be honest, it looks quite pretty…but it must have been such a pain to clean up. Yes, its funny when we were kids doing stuff like this…but now that we are adults, the cleaning up part is not so fun. I’d be pretty upset, and i’d wonder “why me?”

  30. So interesting to read all of these responses. I grew up in Florida and getting TP’ed was usually because someone had a crush. Nearly every slumber party involved a trip to TP someone’s house and my mom was often driving the get-away car. I had two sisters and in high school, ours was TP’d nearly once a month. We always thought it was funny.

    I agree on the religious kid thing, too. I went to bible college and we were constantly playing pranks. Later, when my husband was a youth pastor in Southern California, the kids were really into it, too. It was never mean-spirited.

    Even as adults, we’ve done it. There was a season when a bunch of us young married would get together for game night, and often the night would end with the last people who stayed plotting a TP of the house of the couple who left first.

    I would imagine, with 4 kids, my house will be a target in a few years, but I also suspect I’ll be teaching my kids the best techniques. :)

  31. I never did it. To my parents its a huge no no and seen as vandalism and very disrespectful. My parents took a lot of pride in the appearance of their home and toilet papering messes it up and is very difficult to clean up. I guess I feel the same way. Though not as picky as my parents I would be upset if we were TP’d

  32. Yes…we did the same– it was harmlessly done to friends and boys we liked, too.

    In fact, it was sort of an honor and a delight to have it done back because that meant someone liked you. I don’t know how my parents felt, with all the clean-up, but I always thought it was fun.

  33. My mom and her best friend Judy would drive us around in either our panel truck or Judy’s hippie van….if we were caught, another parent and their kids, the victims :), might jump in the vehicle and join in the fun. Being TP’d was a badge of honor, a sign you were beloved in some way. My husband was shocked that we did this…on a regular basis no less!

  34. First, my assumption is that the picture was stagged or in some way altered. It does not look natural.

    Second, where I live this is considered bullying and vandalism.

  35. That’s funny that there’s different takes on it…where I grew up (Northwest and Utah), it was fun and innocent to do, and if it were done to me, made me feel like I was (or one of my siblings were) popular. As an adult, I think it’s a pain to clean up–sprinklers or rain plus thin tissue up in trees where you can’t reach it, not fun. But still, I’d far rather have my kids toilet papering than other things. My teenage crowd was much like yours, so of course, you get creative with your fun.

  36. p.s. I must say–what an impressive job they did! If that’s the house that you stayed at and real, wow. Those kids got some exercise while tp-ing!

  37. I grew up in Latin America and if TP’inf occurred the police would be called for sure, and it would be considered vandalism. I lived in St Louis MO for a long time too and nobody ever TP’d houses.

    I would be really angry if someone did this to me. Maybe those who think it’s all fun and games should be careful to make sure the recipients of the prank are ok with it.

  38. It looks so pretty! Unfortunately, where I live, Johannesburg, South Africa, we would never get an opportunity for this kind of thing. Firstly, nobody can walk the streets at night to be able to do a prank like this, and our houses are all behind high walls and electric fences, making toilet paper beautifying a bit redundant. Makes me think about life in a safer city, or at least here in SA, in a smaller town.

  39. I remember a distinct incident with a couple of girls whose names I will change to protect the guilty – let’s call them Kichelle and Matie – where there were rolls of toilet paper (graciously donated by Denny’s), for sale signs (you’re welcome realtors), blinking construction barricades with someone’s pants wrapped around the bright lights to keep any cops from seeing it in the back of someone’s VW and lots of giggling and shushing and running down the street to regain control of ourselves. It was definitely because someone had a crush on a boy and it was all in good fun…and we we did a FANTASTIC job! I wish I had a picture of that house.

  40. It’s been interesting to skim through the comments. I had no idea there was such an array of opinions. When I grew up in a small town in Northern Cal in the 70s, among my friends it was the wildest thing we did. That and drinking Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider. It was all in good fun, and we only did the people we loved. It was never vandalism or bullying. Now as a frugal ‘older’ person, I shake my head to think that we ‘wasted’ 59 rolls of TP on our favorite church teachers house. I agree with a previous comment: what a low cost compared to much worse teen habits. It was all good, clean fun.

  41. oh, i’m sad to say, i’ve never been tp’d. in texas, i think it’s an honor. i’ve wrapped many a house in junior high, but was never cool enough to get wrapped myself.

  42. Too much rain here for tp to be considered harmless. However, in our small town it’s fairly common to see houses flamingoed – front lawns covered in plastic pink flamingos.

  43. I grew up in the central valley in CA, on a block of 16 homes, with about 22 kids all about five years apart in age. We all TP’d each others house. It meant different things depending on what you used . If we were just getting each other we just used TP, and it was about noe getting caught. We almost always helped clean it up in the morning and never involved any parents. It was good clean fun, BUT, if we did the despised block babysitters house…(old crotchety lady) then we used eggs on the grass, cuz they stink, and turned the sprinklers on once we were done! We had some great stories to tell each time.
    As for now, we live in SoCal and I do have a teenaged son. It’s a bit different now, only that we have to drive them cuz their friends live further than down the street. It means the same here, friends TPing friends hoping not get caught. Girls flirting with the boys, how high can the roll be thrown, watch me throw it over the house, etc. some thing the kids and parents have started is that they feed the kids that come by in the morning to do the clean up, it has become a social fun thing here in Utopia, I mean Temecula.

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