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Safe, Not-Mean, Totally Fun April Fool’s Day Pranks to Play on Your Kids

Mar 28, 2017

This year, April 1 falls on a Saturday — a relative rarity you should embrace. For the first time in a decade, parental pranksters can unleash hilarity on their unsuspecting brood without worrying about messing up morning routines or having kids stay up late to plot their revenge.

April Fool’s Day doesn’t always get the respect of, say, Halloween, but it could be a great family holiday. You’ll want to keep things safe, not overly scary, and totally fun for everyone. In other words, this isn’t the best time for stretching saran wrap across toilets (do you really want your kids making an even bigger mess in the bathroom?) or leaping out of bedroom closets with air horns.

If you’re trying to come up with some pranks, here are five general categories to get you thinking. (And if you miss April 1, don’t wait for next year — a prank played on a random May weekend could be even more fun.)


The Old Food Switcheroo

What it is: For breakfast or lunch, offer your darlings a meal that includes at least one food item that isn’t what it appears to be. There are lots of fun recipes on the web, from French-fry apple wedges and grilled cheese cakes to a lunch that appears to be full of bugs. Also, Martha Stewart has a fake milk prank because, of course.
Why it’s great: Have you ever taken a bite of a sliced apple when you thought it was a pear? When your brain is expecting one thing and your taste buds get another, it can be such a weird, jarring experience. (And fun for you to watch it happen to others.) Just minimize the disgusting factor — having your preteen gulp down apple vinegar instead of juice is more sadistic than funny. (Your spouse, on the other hand…)
Additional Considerations: Weird food prep can take lots of time and, since your kids (probably) aren’t going to keep eating those cream-cheese-stuffed Oreos, it’s also a lot of waste.


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Mess With Their Tech

What it is: So. Much. Potential. Cover remote control sensors (TV or game) with transparent tape so they stop working. Move every clock/device in the house forward one hour. Subtly change their tablet or phone settings to make it look broken when it’s perfectly fine (find some examples here).
Why it’s great: People young and old rely on technology so much, no one suspects these kinds of pranks. They’re all also easily reverted back to normal, after you’ve decided they’ve suffered enough.
Additional Considerations: When the TV or gaming system or computer doesn’t work, who do you think they’ll come to looking for a fix? And the waking-everyone-up-an-hour-early thing seems less a prank on kids and more a cruel joke against your precious sleep.


The Immoveable Object

What it is: A classic prank, this involves gluing a quarter, loonie or toonie somewhere your kids will see it. Candidate locations include back or front patios; sidewalks right outside your house or garage floors. They’ll see the money, get excited and then fail at snagging the loose change.
Why it’s great: This prank is a low-stakes winner as long as you choose the right adhesive — non-toxic, not too weak but also not so strong it damages your floor or forever robs you of a buck.
Additional Considerations: Do you really want to chance either wrecking the floor or having your daughter forever having a coin glued to her fingers? Also, location is key. Pick the wrong place and you risk your kids not seeing it or, worse, half the neighbourhood trying to pick it up.


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Switch Their Stuff

What it is: If you have two (or more) kids, this prank involves switching their stuff — whether that means the contents of their closets, bookshelves or drawers is up to you. (And dependant on how heavy they sleep.)
Why it’s great: It’s a simple practical joke. When they’re asleep, move a bunch of stuff for them to discover when they wake up. If they’re little, they’ll find it delightful. If they’re a little older, they’ll find it annoying. If you make them switch things back, then you get the bonus of tricking them into cleaning their stuff (and finding things they thought they lost).
Additional Considerations: Look, when it comes down to it, this is just an additional chore for you to do. In the dark. 


The Incredible Shrinking Child

What it is: Buy your kid a new shirt (or PJs, shorts, hat, whatever). Also, secretly buy them the same item, but three sizes too large. Have them try on the first one before bed and tell them they can wear it the next day. Then, make the switch.
Why it’s great: First, kids in oversized clothes is always funny for everyone. Second, you now have a shirt all lined up for them in a couple of years. If you’d rather grow than shrink the kid, then other options include stuffing tissue into shoes or short-sheeting their bed.
Additional Considerations: Did you really need to buy two of that same shirt? And if your kid uses a duvet without tucked-in bed linens, then short-sheeting won’t work. Until the next time you go to a hotel on vacation, anyway…

Article Author Erik Missio
Erik Missio

Erik Missio used to live in Toronto, have longish hair and write about rock ‘n’ roll. He now lives in the suburbs, has no-ish hair and edits technical articles. He and his wife are the proud parents of a six-year-old girl who is already pretty adept with a tablet, and a two-year-old boy who probably will be sooner than appropriate. He received his MA in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario.

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