16 Free or Cheap April Fools’ Day Pranks

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You have one day to frighten and surprise your friends and family without repercussions. Why not also save money doing it?

This post comes from Jeff Somogyi at partner site DealNews.

It’s April Fools’ Day, and you’ve totally forgotten to set up any long-game pranks (like the one where you slowly shave down your wife’s high heels, so she thinks she’s shrinking). So, what are you going to do now? You can’t even order a squirting flower online; it’ll never ship in time!

Worry no more, thrifty, last-minute pranksters. Here’s a list of gags that use regular household items, so there’s no investment capital needed. However, one disclaimer: DealNews does not claim responsibility if any of these “fun” pranks result in the loss of friends, status, job, freedom, teeth (when your victim punches you), etc.

  1. Write a message on an upside-down paper cup that alludes to something horrible being trapped under it. Leave it on a co-worker’s desk or in a conference room.
  2. Replace the sugar in a sugar bowl with salt. The vice versa also works, and conveniently gives you somewhere to put the displaced sugar for the duration of the prank. Now that’s practical pranking!
  3. Cover an open toilet bowl with clear plastic wrap. This one is best done in someone else’s house — unless you want to consider the cleanup your penance for playing such an old gag.
  4. Find a sleeping person (if you live in a city, you can usually find one on the subway), fill their hand with shaving cream and then tickle their nose. You can, of course, replace the shaving cream with whipped cream for a more delicious prank.
  5. Grab a plant mister (or a chemical-free spray bottle) and casually stroll behind your mark. Make a sneezing noise and spray the back of their neck at the same time. Classic! Cut out the “middle man” and just sneeze on your friend for an even grosser prank.
  6. If your kitchen sink has one of those sprinkler hoses, wrap tape or a rubber band around the trigger, so it’s held down. When someone goes to get a glass of water, they’ll … open the fridge and grab the Brita pitcher. But, when they go to wash that dirty glass: POW!
  7. For a more direct approach, just fill a glass of water up to the brim, then throw it in someone’s face. It’s totally a prank if you also scream “APRIL FOOLS’!”
  8. This joke is best executed in a restaurant, as the necessary items will be on hand. Set it up by asking the sucker if they know that ketchup and salt, when combined, give off heat. If they say they never heard of such a thing, pour a healthy amount of ketchup onto a plate, then sprinkle some salt on it. Stir it with a spoon and then wave your hand over it as if you’re sensing the temperature. Nod and say, “Yeah, feel the heat coming off that!” When your “friend” puts their hand over the pile, quickly slam their hand down into the mess. Then run! (Bonus “prank”: If you do this in a restaurant, you’re also stiffing them for the bill!)
  9. Another ketchup prank: Grab your biggest knife, then cover it and your hand in ketchup. Run into any occupied room while screaming. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to hear your mom curse for the first time ever! (True story.)
  10. Stretch some more plastic wrap across a doorway at shoulder height. You’ll be amazed by how many people will walk into it.
  11. Use a pin (like from the back of a button or brooch) to poke holes around the rim of a plastic disposable cup so that it will leak when used. Increase the excitement by then shuffling the stack of cups, so you’ll never know who is going to pull the gaffed glass. It could even be you! Now that’s an April Fools’ trick: Fooling yourself.
  12. Here’s one that’s great for a work environment: When your cubicle neighbor gets up to grab some coffee, scamper over to their computer and press ctrl+alt+down arrow. When the chump comes back and realizes his monitor’s display is upside down, he’ll be so mad! Then, when he demands you change it back, you’ll realize that you have no idea how to restore it and you’ll have to call IT. (And we all know those guys are a bunch of laughs, especially when they have to come fix some jerk’s stupid prank.)
  13. Call a random stranger and tell them you’re from the electric company and ask them if their refrigerator is running. When they say yes, tell them that they better go catch it. This one will work because no one is expecting the classics anymore. (“Those who forget prank history are condemned to repeat it” — George Prankayana)
  14. Ask to see your friend’s new phone because you’re thinking of getting that exact model. Then, quickly do several things: 1) Set an alarm to go off at 3 a.m. and 2) change the language to Estonian. Hand the phone back, while grinning wickedly. They’ll see that you changed the language setting and get mad about it, but they’ll never suspect the follow-up prank — until it’s 3 a.m.
  15. Phone a friend and tell them that you’re a doctor, and that you’re very, very sorry, but you did everything you could to save their … then pretend that the connection dropped out. Wait a couple beats, then give your deepest condolences. Then hang up. (Call from a number they don’t recognize, of course.)
  16. Fake your own death and frame a friend for your murder!

Gosh, some of these pranks are just cruel, right? Do you guys have any good/awful gags that you can pull for no money? Tell us about them in the comments below. Also: Please stay the heck away from us on April 1.

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