Whether you play tricks on your kids, join forces against innocent victims, or find yourself the brunt of prankery, here are a few ideas to spark your imagination…
For you to play on the kids
Early morning call
One for the dedicated prankster only. If April 1st falls on a school day get your kids up as normal but two or three hours earlier, having altered all the clocks in the house first. Wait until they’re up and dressed and then tell them a letter arrived for them. Inside will be a note from you reading ‘April Fools – It’s Five in the morning’
Ever tried stringing an entire box of Cheerios together on one piece of string? It takes time and effort, yes, but when they attempt to pour a bowl first thing in the morning the look on your victims face will make it all worthwhile.
Unroll a roll of toilet paper, and on some of the sheets inside, write messages such as ‘Help, I’ve been kidnapped and forced to work in a toilet paper factory!’, ‘Warning, this roll of toilet paper will now self-destruct’. Replace the old roll with this doctored roll and wait for the reaction.
A few drops of food colouring sneaked into the food between pan and plate can have a dramatic effect, particularly if you colour a nice white sauce bright blue or green. Even better if you then refuse to accept there’s anything wrong with it and tuck in heartily.
For you and the kids to play on other people
An oldie but a classic – super glue some coins to a spot on the pavement. Choose a spot with plenty of passing traffic and over which you have a decent vantage point to watch the fun as people bend down and scrabble desperately to pick up the unyielding cash.
Simplicity itself – a handful of salt dropped onto a kid’s head bears more than a passing resemblance to the worst case of dandruff you’ve ever seen. Team up and try to suppress the giggles as a concerned mum, grandparent or teacher does a spot of chimp-like grooming.
Pop an uninflated balloon through someone’s letterbox, keeping hold of the end. Now pump it up, tie it and let it fall, creating the illusion that someone has mysteriously posted an inflated balloon through a narrow letterbox.
For this, you’ll need a scrap of fabric and some money. Leave the money on the floor and stand nearby. When someone bends to pick up the money, rip the fabric and they’ll leap up, convinced they’ve just split their pants.
For the kids to play on you
Look away now, call the kids into the room, and then commence terrified waiting…
Unscrew the lids from the salt and pepper shakers, and fill the salt lid with pepper and vice versa. Cut out circles of paper to exactly cover the lids, put them over the salt and pepper and then screw them back on. Watch as someone tries to figure out why the salt cellar is pouring out pepper despite being full of salt.
Take the lid off a bottle of ketchup, put some bicarbonate of soda in it, and then quickly put the lid back on and shake it. When someone opens it the ketchup will erupt from the bottle like a sticky tomato volcano.
And finally if you need any more inspiration here are five of the greatest April Fools pranks of all time…
In 1980 the BBC reported that Big Ben, in order to keep up with the times, was going to be given a digital readout. The announcement shocked listeners, who protested the change. The BBC Japanese service also announced the clock hands would be sold to the first four listeners to contact them. One Japanese seaman in the mid-Atlantic immediately radioed in a bid.
Tower of London.
In 1860 people throughout London received the following invitation: “Tower of London: Admit Bearer and Friend to view annual ceremony of Washing the White Lions on Sunday, April 1, 1860. Admittance only at White Gate.” By noon a large crowd had gathered outside the tower. They were disappointed to find that lions hadn’t been kept in the tower for centuries.
In 1957 the BBC show Panorama broadcast a three-minute segment about a bumper spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland. This was apparently because of an unusually mild winter and the “virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil,” with video footage of a Swiss family pulling pasta off spaghetti trees and placing it into baskets. The show said: “For those who love this dish, there’s nothing like real, home-grown spaghetti.”
Hundreds of people phoned the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this query, the BBC simply said: “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.
In 1977 the Guardian newspaper published a seven-page “special report” about San Serriffe, a small country located in the Indian Ocean consisting of several islands that make the shape of a semi-colon. The two main islands were called Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. There was a series of articles about the history, geography and daily life on these idyllic islands.
The Guardian’s phones rang all day as readers wanted more information about the perfect-sounding fictional holiday spot, and the hoax began a tradition in newspapers to try and fool their readers.
Australian Giant Iceberg.
In April 1978 a barge towing a giant iceberg appeared in Sydney Harbour. Dick Smith, a local adventurer, and millionaire businessman, had been loudly promoting his scheme to tow an iceberg from Antarctica, saying he was going to carve the berg into small ice cubes, which he would sell to the public for ten cents each. These cubes, fresh from the pure waters of Antarctica, were promised to improve the flavour of any drink they cooled.
Local radio stations provided blow-by-blow coverage of the scene, but when it started to rain the firefighting foam and shaving cream the iceberg was really made of washed away, uncovering the white plastic sheets beneath.