ask the readers: what are the best and worst pranks you’ve seen at work?

I received this too late to run it yesterday but what the hell, we can still do it today. A reader writes:

Long time reader, first time question asker. This is more out of curiosity (I don’t currently have this problem where I work) but many of us have seen the episode of The Office where Jim seals Dwight’s stapler in Jello.

For April Fools’ Day, I’m curious about other readers’ experiences on this, the most treacherous of days for pranks. What are the worst or least appropriate pranks people have seen pulled in the workplace?

Over the years, pranks have proved far more controversial here than I ever would have expected, with some people arguing passionately that no prank is ever okay at work because they’re inherently mean-spirited. I disagree with that! Plenty of pranks aren’t mean-spirited, land the way they’re intended to, and are enjoyed by all. Other pranks fail that test, sometimes horrifyingly so.

For this post, I’m especially interested in hearing about pranks that went well — that no one felt humiliated, terrified, or angry from, and where genuine merriment ensured. But let’s also hear about pranks that went terribly wrong. Have at it in the comments.

{ 874 comments… read them below }

  1. Mary*

    I work in a lab, it used to be pretty common to send the student to the campus storeman for a “long wait” or a “glass hammer”

    1. Frea*

      When I worked at the golden arches, it was common to send new people to the (non-existent) basement for liquid dent remover or powdered mayonnaise.

              1. paxfelis*

                We used to send people looking for “staff private so-and-so” or “command private major so-and-so.”

          1. kiwidg1*

            Ah, the fun we had sending the young airmen out for some flightline! Thanks for the memories.

            1. wondHRland*

              My hubby used to be in the Air Force, and they’d send people looking for Jet Wash.

          2. SamIAm*

            Also military (Navy). New sailors were often sent to the boiler room on the ship to get a B-T Punch (punched by the Boiler Tech).

            1. Kathleen_A*

              My husband was a USMC tank mechanic stationed for most of his enlistment in 29 Palms, a town in the oh, so hot Mojave Desert (Unofficial motto: “Your Gateway to Death by Dehydration”). What some of the guys liked to do was put a wrench or something out in the Mojave Desert sun for a couple of hours and then tell the newbie to go get it. It would literally get hot enough to cause a painful burn, so personally, I don’t think this is very funny, but then again, I wasn’t a Marine, so…

          3. Free Meerkats*

            Our division office was conveniently located next to the first ladder down from the hangar bay level quarterdeck, so we’d get many of the new people reporting to the ship asking where Personnel was so they could check in. The old salts we’d give a straight answer to, but new recruit types? They’d get sent on a voyage around the ship to various offices that were in on it. Many of them had no idea how to find things on ships by number, so everyone would be “so busy” they’d just get the compartment number and then chased out of the office.

            Luckily, we were a nuke ship, so we never got the newbie BMs looking for a bucket of steam, most of the crew weren’t allowed int he engineering spaces.

          4. Wintermute*

            in the Submarine corps they send people to ask permission to “blow the DCA”– now, on a submarine there are many ballasts, tanks, receptacles and other apparatus that are vented, blown, dumped, transferred or cleared. The DCA is not one of them. The DCA is not, in fact a piece of equipment, it is a person, the Damage Control Assistant [officer].

          1. kab0b*

            I call into my shop and ask for a lift kit for a smart car. Then one of my new hires found one…

            1. Hills to Die on*

              coming close to having to explain to my coworkers why I am laughing out loud.

          2. Bowserkitty*

            I had never heard of the blinker fluid joke until a few years ago when my friends were talking about it. Thank god my mom never pulled that on me! I saw some hilarious videos where the humiliated teenagers storm back to the car where the parents are giggling in glee.

          3. TJ Morrison*

            Once I saw a car with one tail light half filled with water. I followed it for about a mile before our paths diverged. Watching it slosh around and cause the light to vary in brightness made my day and still brings a smile to my face whenever I think about it.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Summer camp…. a left-handed smoke-shifter.
        A friend’s restaurant… a left-handed whisk.

            1. Deejay*

              That reminds me of the uranium ore on sale at Amazon and the review ““I purchased this product 4.47 Billion Years ago and when I opened it today, it was half empty.”

          1. CanadaTag*

            Actually, there is a type of bird called a snipe!

            From Wikipedia: A snipe is any of about 26 wading bird species in three genera in the family Scolopacidae. They are characterized by a very long, slender bill and crypsis, or camouflage, plumage. The Gallinago snipes have a nearly worldwide distribution, the Lymnocryptes snipe is restricted to Asia and Europe and the Coenocorypha snipes are found only in the outlying islands of New Zealand. The four species of painted snipe are not closely related to the typical snipes, and are placed in their own family, the Rostratulidae.

            1. Other Becky*

              Snipe are also extremely difficult to hunt – they’re mostly not that big and they fly in darting, irregular patterns rather than straight lines. The term “sniper” originally referred to someone who’s a good enough shot to be able to hunt snipe.

        1. future wolf*

          you joke but there is a bizarrely large number of items that are made “right-handed” that I can’t really use as a lefty.

          Dumbest example that comes to mind is a spatula. My wife got this great new spatula for our kitchen that is simply unusable to me because of the way it’s designed. A freakin’ SPATULA!

          1. Drama Llama's Mama*

            Yep, my husband didn’t believe me that there are some knives that are “handed” which contributes to my clumsiness with them. Until he went to get his fancy Japanese knives sharpened and the guy asked if he was right or left handed so he could hone the blade accordingly.

      2. irene adler*

        My bro used to tell the story of a foreign exchange student in Germany who was asked to go to the grocery store for fly lard. Made every clerk he asked bust out laughing.

      3. Qosanchia*

        I worked in a university dining hall, and one of the units got their newbie to tie himself and a passel of others up for 30-45 minutes dredging dry storage for “Plexan oven coolant.”
        The main dining hall manager was not pleased.

      1. Beth*

        From the costume shop at a major opera company: fabric stretcher or yardage extender. (I’ve heard that the circus world sends new hands for pole stretchers.)

        Also from the theatre world: a bucket of prop-wash (for dusting the props).

        1. DuPont Circle Travel*

          Tech theatre it’s a cable stretcher.

          And apparently in the old days, when lighting gel was made from actual gel (rather than the plastic it is now), you’d send the newbies to “wash the gel” – which resulted in the color washing away as well, triggering panic that you’ve now ruined it!

    2. Roci crewmate number 5*

      My son worked at a fishing lodge last summer and was sent by the chef to get a bucket of steam on one occasion. Poor kid looked for 30 minutes. Even asked the lodge owner if they were serious, he barked at him that if the chef needed a bucket of steam he better be hoofing it! They got the next new kid to search frantically for a left handed bacon stretcher. The re-telling of the tale was glorious.

      1. WrathOfJuno*

        Restaurant- sent to fetch the rice cutter or bacon stretcher from a near by competitor (they were all in on the standard prank and would proceed to send the hapless employee to another location that they said had the item). Also once had a new employee who wasn’t allowed to leave until he drained the Bunn Coffee Urn (which was tied directly to the water line)… I felt sorry for that guy and sent him home once it was clear that he would keep trying to drain that machine all night.

        1. DreddPirate*

          Ok, I’ve gotta say that the assignment to drain the coffee urn that’s connected to the water supply is genius!

    3. HR Stoolie*

      Way back I was working commercial fisheries we used to send newbies to the bow to with a gaff to spot and snag the “mail buoy”

      1. Foila*

        Ah, the mail buoy. We would remind everyone to get their letters ready, and then everyone had to keep a sharp lookout…

    4. Sienna*

      When I was in the army, a motor pool sgt sent a new private to the neighboring motor pool to ask for a box of fallopian tubes.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        I would totally just come back with some (other) female members of the neighboring motor pool.

    5. Agile Phalanges*

      I once got asked to look online and find prices for an “air comb.” I thought it was one of these type of pranks, but apparently it’s a real thing–attaches to an air compressor hose and can be used to plow air into tight spaces in a comb-like set of streams. We used it to clean dust off tractor radiators. But yeah, I thought sure they were pulling my leg.

      1. Chinookwind*

        As someone who wroute up po’s for pipeline pigs, I didn’t know if soneone was pranking me when they wanted one for sniffer dogs. I have since learned that pigs are tools inside a pipe and dogs have tails and paws and noses that smell leaks.

      2. Anonny*

        I heard about someone who did the reverse of that – sent the newbie off for “skyhooks” or something, thinking it wasnt a real item, only to find that they were a thing, cost a fair amount of money, and when the newbie hadn’t been able to find any in the company stocks, they’d ordered them from a supplier.

        Oops.

    6. Surgery McScrubface*

      Working in the operating room – telling people they were paged to OR 13 (we don’t have one – goes from 12 to 14).

      1. Alli525*

        Is that pretty common, to skip OR #13, or just at your hospital? I always appreciate the old buildings that “don’t have” a thirteenth floor.

        1. TooTiredToThink*

          As far as I know its incredibly common (I’m not in the medical field, but have heard this many times), which makes this the most perfect prank. “I found 12. I found 14. Where is 13?”

      2. noahwynn*

        The airline I used to work for skips row 13 on all their aircraft. Apparently since they’re Las Vegas based and all the flights went to Vegas when they started years ago, they had trouble getting passengers to sit there because of bad luck.

      1. CMart*

        Also restaurant:
        – left handed wine keys/whisks/spatulas etc…
        – Strawberry de-seeder
        – sent to a neighbor restaurant for a bucket of steam

        And my favorite time (and resource…) waster: emptying the hot water from the direct-line coffee machine.

    7. SignalLost*

      When my mother was a new nurse, Eustachian tubes or Fallopian tubes from central supply was common.

    8. Common Welsh Green*

      New nurses on their surgical rotation routinely had surgeons crossly demanding neck tourniquets. My mother was halfway down a long hall to the supply cupboard before she realized what would happen if you put a tourniquet around someone’s neck.

    9. Trouble*

      When I worked at McDonald’s we:
      sent people ‘to the basement for more cups’ there was no basement but watching them look for it was fine.
      To the garage down the road for a bucket of steam to clean the grill
      to the coffee chain store across our parking lot for blueberries to make the muffins
      to the garage down the road for a long stand
      And not a common one but I told the new guy all the ice in the ice maker was waste and needed to be counted. I let him fill half a bag before telling him it was a prank.

    10. Construction Safety*

      Fallopian tubes
      Much hilarity ensued when he called on the radio asking if we wanted glass or plastic.

      1. JessaB*

        That would have gotten you a stack of packages of zipatone back in the day. You can actually get zipatone in a pattern of dots, I’d have gone to an art supply with the company card and bought you some if you asked me that.

    11. Glitsy Gus*

      A lot of newbies in the shop I worked in spent way too much time looking for a “calibrated measuring tape” or a “left handed c-wrench.”

    12. FallingSlowly*

      Proving I guess that everyone is different, personally I find nearly all of the “go ask for this (thing which doesn’t exist” to be unkind.
      To me, they are a setup to single out and humiliate a new or inexperienced person. Sure, dehydrated water should be a clue that it’s a joke, but things like “a 67 VW radiator hose” builds the “gotcha” around assuming that of course everyone knows they don’t have radiators, so now let’s all laugh at the idiot. When it’s not something that is in fact common knowledge or sense, I think that’s kind of a dick move by the pranker, and could very well make the prankee feel humiliated and picked on.

      There are also plenty of people who are anxious to please and do what’s asked of them, who might be afraid to voice their doubts about the command, who then also get laughed at.

      Just my thoughts.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        Plus there is the risk of the new guy finding it and costing the business a lot of money.

        I remember reading a story where someone was sent looking for “skyhooks”. He went looking. He found a place that had them, then placed an order.

        Luckily his boss was able to cancel the order, as it was expensive.

        1. Jack V*

          OK, *that*’s funny, at least in retrospect.

          Yeah, I don’t think these are always wrong, but they very often constitute the sort of prank “demonstrating dominance over someone who can’t fight back” more than “an elegant surprise that everyone is satisfied by”

          1. Vemasi*

            As with a lot of pranks, I think it depends on how you do it, and your attitude going into it. For the majority of “pranks,” two people could do the same thing and one could be good fun, and the other humiliating. This is how hazing gets out of hand. In a good natured group, it’s more “We’ve done some silly stuff together in good humor, and it sped up our path to friendship.” It can also cut the anxiety of being in a new workplace or group by showing there’s space for jokes and frivolity, and humanize your superiors when they say that the same thing happened to them when they were new.

            But it’s when, as you say, the prankster starts to think that they have power over the other person and can make them do whatever they want, or single someone out mean-spiritedly. And there’s no way to write guidelines about this, as the people who insist on no pranks ever understand–some people just don’t understand that pranks are supposed to be fun or funny for everyone involved, and think it’s all about tricking someone into looking like an idiot and then mocking them.

      2. NforKnowledge*

        Thank you, FallingSlowly, I feel the same way!
        I think for a prank not to fall into the territory of mean it has to be between equals, not picking on the new person just because you can.

        1. MayLou*

          I agree – as someone who has a tendency to take things literally, and not always recognise that someone is joking, I would be really hurt if this was exploited for others’ amusement. It’s also potentially opening up a company to accusations of discrimination, since pulling this kind of “prank” is a common way that people bully autistic people, people with learning disabilities etc. Unless the joke is extremely, very obviously a joke and the other person immediately recognises that (and you can’t usually predict that they will), it’s just mean.

            1. Anita Brayke*

              I was uneasy with it too! I’m a people pleaser and I also take things literally, and while I would have forced myself to realize that they were just kidding, it would have been upsetting too.

              I used to work in the scheduling office for a technical theatre, and apparently in rigging there is something called a “pickle” that is not a cucumber exposed to brine and spices for several months. A travelling supervisor asked a newbie to get him a pickle, so the guy went to catering and got him a pickle! Accidental prank, but the supervisor was nice and explained what he really meant. Now THAT was funny!

        1. FallingSlowly*

          Exactly. And it’s a vulnerable time, being new and trying to find your feet. It would be very easy for something like this to leave the target mortified.

      3. Longwing*

        I’m with you on this.
        “Hey newbie! Please waste an hour or two in your first week on a fruitless errand. This will teach you the importance of distrusting me when I make requests and impart a sense that I don’t value your time. It will also teach an important lesson about trying to please, namely that you shouldn’t do it. This prank gets better if you try VERY HARD to fulfil my request, so future requests will be answered with half-hearted efforts at best.”

      4. jcarnall*

        Agreed.

        Every single one of the pranks so far have been mean, intended to humiliate a new person for trying to be helpful.

    13. The Dig*

      At an archaeological dig I worked in, we sent the new guy fetch a neutron theodolite. The guy figured it out quick enough.
      Two other guys were sent to fetch a bubble bucket. I personally thought that was weird enough the guys would quickly figure it was a joke. They never did! They ran around the village, going from the dig to the café (the owner was in on the prank) to the base to our hotel, and back again, for about an hour, until another volunteer told them it was a prank.

    14. ProcrastinationGoals*

      I work at an IT Company and we have an electrical wholesalers next door who are a long term client and hilarious humans. We had a new help desk tech start for us recently and the older techs sent him next door to the wholesalers for a “long wait”. Now the staff next door took this and ran with it. When our new tech arrived and said he was there for a “long wait” the warehouse staff next door said, ” no worries, mate I’ll grab one from out the back for you”. He waited there for two hours. TWO HOURS.
      I had no words when he got back.

  2. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    Probably not massively original, but several years ago I had a colleague who was Bridezilla-like in planning her wedding. We heard Every. Little. Detail. of her flowers, her cake, her dress, her vows, and we endured a massive tantrum-like meltdown one afternoon over the fact that she was struggling to find the right shade of pink for her bridesmaids dresses.

    She returned from her honeymoon to find her entire desk, chair, cabinet, noticeboard, folders, PC and screen etc. plastered with hundreds, thousands of bright pink post-it notes. Oh, and a single pink balloon tied to the back of her chair.

          1. AnnaBananna*

            + 1

            “It looks like two pigs fightin’ under a blanket.” I totally have the movie memorized, but that’s my fave Wheezer quote. :D

      1. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

        She was…….. lightly amused.

        (to be fair, these days I think I’d be annoyed by the waste of paper, but at that point in time it was hilarious)

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I had one set of friends leave their keys with the best man while they went off on honeymoon. They returned to find all their spare underwear in the freezer. The underwear had been soaked in water, balled up, an formed into little ice balls.
      You’ll have to wait for those clean clothes.

      1. Airy*

        Wow, that just feels mean. Also creepy that he went through their underwear drawers and handled each pair.

      2. Artemesia*

        Why would anyone leave their keys with the best man — this is asking for it. We all know to leave them with Mom and you will return to milk and bread and eggs and a bottle of Champagne in the refrigerator.

        1. k*

          Yes! I just went on vacation and my mom cleaned my entire house while I was gone (without me asking). <3

      3. Cassie*

        Ewww. That’s gross. Anyone who did that to me would be paying for new underwear. Which they would not EVER be touching! *shudders*

      4. wondHRland*

        When I was a kid, we were watching a neighbors house while they were on vacation (road trip). on the day they were to return, we filled their one (and only) bathroom with balloons.

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            I really hope this is a son living on their own also what kind of balloons, air/helium/water?

        1. Former Borders Refugee*

          I once went over to a friend’s house while they were out of town and hid about 100 tongue depressors all. over. their. house. Like, they have MOVED since, and they still will occasionally text me a picture of another one they found.

      5. Arts Akimbo*

        I’d think it was pretty funny, as long as it was cotton underwear and not expensive delicates.

        My Best Woman very, very kindly took it upon herself to clean up a friend’s post-wedding-reception-afterparty vomit from my guest bathroom while my spouse and I were on honeymoon. I’d have given her any number of free passes to freeze my underwear!

      6. CmdrShepard4ever*

        Spare underwear as in underwear that was in their drawers that were not currently being used?

        Or spare underwear as in brand new unopened unused underwear for emergencies?

        I actually keep spare (new unopened) underwear and socks that I try to stash away and save for emergencies when I forget to wash clothes.

        I wouldn’t want to touch anyone’s used underwear even if it is washed.

      7. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        I threatened to do this to one of my lifeguards years ago, he left his wet speedo “to dry” in a ball on the floor of the office. I was like, if you don’t at least hang it up next time it’s going in the freezer.

        1. Aro*

          My dad actually did this to his college roommate because he kept leaving his underwear in the microwave.

      8. JustaTech*

        A friend asked for suggestions of how to prank his brother returning from his honeymoon. The favorite was to turn off their water heater. Nothing is damaged, but ooh a cold shower. (The group collectively decided this was too mean and also that we would make sure to never get on the bad side of the person who suggested it.)

    2. entrylevelsomething*

      Post-it notes are classic. Don’t damage anything, just takes a little time to remove. And hey, if you remove them right, free stacks of slightly less sticky post-it notes.

  3. Arya Snark*

    I used to prank pretty regularly for 4/1 when I didn’t work remotely. Nothing controversial – just small cuts of post-its on the mouse reader, plastic bugs under keyboards/in candy bowls/in microwave and flipping the screen display on a particular friend’s monitor. Never got any bad feedback on them and I think they went over well.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I’m a big fan of placing a post it containing “April Fools!” over the optical sensor on the mouse.

      1. Elemeno P.*

        I did this to my supervisor after I found some tiny sticky notes on my desk. Apparently they were on my desk because he’d used them to do the same thing to our boss and was trying to frame me for it, so he just figured it was payback!

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        At an old job, we coordinated that we were all going to “call off” to our supervisor. A few people did it the night before and a few people did it that morning. Supervisor came in and was confused that we were all there.

        She got her revenge by getting a colleague on another team to cover all of our mouse sensors with post-it notes while we were in a meeting.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          One day we all wore full suits to the office. Our supervisor got really nervous that there was a big meeting he had forgotten.

          1. Qosanchia*

            This is amazing, and my absolute favorite class of prank. It gets people weirded out without having to hurt anyone or cause any damage

            1. Margaret*

              When I was in university, we all dressed up lightly as our funny young philosophy prof (blazers and bowties.) He loved it and made us take a group photo.

        2. Spouter of Gibberish*

          That one is funny. Everyone probably thought their mouse was broken (until they flipped it over and saw the post it covering the light).

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        My kid likes that one.

        This year he submitted a paper to his teacher, 2 days early, and said he wasn’t sure about one of the sources. Could she check while he still had time to make changes?

        Rick Roll.

      4. Glitsy Gus*

        Someone did this one to every single desk in an office I worked in and, even as the victim, it was a fun one.

      5. Vicky Austin*

        Then there’s always the classic: yell “EEK! A mouse!” and then when people ask where, point to your computer mouse.

    2. Master Bean Counter*

      Somebody tried to prank me with a fake spider one day. The ex-marine salesman in who found it in my office gave a scream that would put a four year old to shame.

      1. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

        We have a plastic spider in our office restroom (a Halloween leftover which has by now acquired a name) and basically everyone who doesn’t know comes out of there complaining about the slight adrenaline kick of fear. At this point we’re weirdly fond of it though so Sybil is here to stay. (It helps that we never have external guests who could be startled.)

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        The guy in the cube across from me tries to get people with a fake rat. When I first came in, he thought I’d be an easy target. Unfortunately for him, I have a slightly flat affect and a biology professor / lifelong prankster for a father. I had a rat for a pet when I was 8 (Cream. My sister had Coffee). Animals that escaped their cages at our house included (but were not limited to) multiple non-poisonous snakes, hissing cockroaches, and my sister’s tarantula.

        When he left the fake dismembered hand on the floor under our divider, I realized my cube neighbor was a prankster and explained that I don’t actually like jokes, and he quit with me. I do make a point of hunting up his rat every Halloween and Apr 1, just to be nice.

        1. mdv*

          “I do make a point of hunting up his rat every Halloween and Apr 1, just to be nice.”
          … that IS awfully nice of you — acknowledging his effort to have some fun.

      3. Free Meerkats*

        At the state fair here, one of the 4H barns is known for the “plastic spider on a fishing line from the rafters” bit. They were pretty good with it. Maybe 3 years ago I stuck a pair of scissors in my back pocket and snipped the “web” when it landed on my shoulder.

    3. Zennish*

      It’s also fun to take a screenshot of someone’s computer desktop, set it as their wallpaper, then turn off “show desktop icons”… or so I’ve heard.

      1. Gumby*

        Or, if they are unwise enough to leave their computer both unlocked and unattended, the old ctrl-alt-down arrow. Faster, less chance of being caught.

      2. LadyFannyofOmaha*

        We change the background if people leave computers unlocked…. used to be pictures of Tom selleck from the 70s but we have now moved on to Kanye West. In fact, we now just call it “being Kanyed”.

        1. entrylevelsomething*

          Corgi butts were big in the box office where I used to work. Every few days, new corgi butts.

        2. Brightlights*

          We had a guy who just never learned to lock his computer. I flipped his screen many times. He would freak out and go to tech support, then I would flip it back before he came back.

          Another coworker set his background to a photo of Nicholas Cage.

          A coworker who shall remain nameless trained another “doesn’t lock his machine” colleague to lock it by logging into his account and sending an IM to several people (all his friends, whom she had warned in advance): “Anyone have any Beano? Lunch was rough.” The culprit was identified by her uncontrollable laughter. She was unrepentant. He still locks his machine every time, 5 years later.

          1. Spouter of Gibberish*

            Way back in the day, someone changed the ‘Exit Windows sound” on my boss’s computer to be Cartman from South Park saying “Stew you guys, I’m going home” — so when the next meeting ended, and he shut down powerpoint, it was uh, interesting.

            1. Aunt Vixen*

              Way WAY back in the day, when all was DOS and setting sound files to play on particular actions was apparently a tricky business, my dad had a co-worker named Dave – whose computer someone got to one lunchtime (not my dad; he never had this kind of skill) so that, when quitting time came and he shut down for the evening, it asked him what he thought he was doing. Poor guy almost fainted.

  4. socentury*

    Before I got to the firm, there was apparently an office-wide prank where everyone was informed the door was voice activated and their card would no longer work – a play on the voice activated copier. This one made everyone stand outside work saying their name until someone figured it out.

    1. That One Person*

      I think it helps when embarrassment can be shared and knowing you weren’t the only one, which is what makes things like that work out XD Or so I imagine, I’m sure there could still be one person who takes it personally even if 5+ other folks fall for it.

    2. JJ Bittenbinder*

      I once worked with a woman who did the voice-activated copier prank on her team. Surprisingly, no one had heard of it. What made it most effective is that she was the absolute last person you’d suspect of playing an office prank. She was a very kind woman and a great manager, but extremely business-like and no-nonsense. I think that’s why so many people fell for it.

    3. Not A Morning Person*

      A similar story! At one building I worked in, someone posted a note on the elevators that they were voice activated as a new development to help blind or otherwised disabled riders. It was embarrassing and hilarious at the same time when someone finally remembered it was April 1!

      1. Jack V*

        My first thought was, “yeah, right, how likely is it that they remodelled ANYTHING to make it more accessible without a big hoopla of people working on it for weeks” :(

      2. Zombeyonce*

        I live this one because blind people aren’t going to be able to read the sign, so it’s even better for people not really thinking about it!

    4. TardyTardis*

      We had someone who changed the global language on our copier to French (once we figured out how to change it again, no problem).

  5. Serin*

    In the early ’80s, I worked for a newspaper. No internet, no email, etc.; our computers had some kind of DOS shell, and all we could do was type articles in plain text and hit a command to send them to Composition to be printed in columns.

    I had a co-worker named Ben who was a really heavy typist, as if he was still accustomed to using a manual typewriter. When Ben was typing, you could hear it all over the newsroom: THUD THUD THUD.

    One day we came in and found a note on the bulletin board telling us that our machines had been upgraded, and one of the features added was this super-bare-bones kind of instant messaging from one workstation to another. Messages would appear at the bottom of the screen.

    The first message that was sent in that newsroom was one to Ben that said, “Ouch! Not so hard!”

    1. Michaela Westen*

      In the early 90’s I worked with an older woman who still used a manual typewriter. They had tried getting her and electric, and she kept breaking them.

    2. Atlantis*

      I had a similar situation using a raspberry pi (a small easily programmable computer about the size of a credit card).

      We were working on a project that included the pi having a separate email address so we could recieve data from it without having it connected to a monitor. One day, my teammate decided to prank us by sending an email from the pi even though it was deactivated in a cabinet.

      The email read: “it’s so cold and dark in here. let me out.”

      The confusion and mild panic that ensued was absolutely hilarious.

      1. whingedrinking*

        My partner does this thing that always makes me laugh where he does a voice for animals. I’m imagining your Raspberry Pi saying that in the same high-pitched, consternated way and trying to smother my giggles.

    3. SaraM*

      I once worked for a company where we (the non-IT employees) frequently had to restart the server for various reasons. This was Windows XP days. My buddy and I sent dozens of Net Send messages to our coworkers before someone finally heard us giggling in the server room.
      Our other coworkers were…let’s just say less than technologically inclined, and no one in the company had ever used this feature for good (most didn’t realize it existed) so it was great fun to send them stuff like “Get off Facebook and back to work, Susan! –BossName” We got a couple of the older ladies pretty good with ones like that.

  6. I'm A Little Teapot*

    We plastic wrapped the entire office of a senior VP. The guy was very cool, and everyone knew he liked pranks though he didn’t do much. So we grabbed a couple people, a huge roll of plastic wrap, and did his office. Monitor, phone, keyboard, mouse, desk, chair, trash can, white board, etc. If it was there, we wrapped it. He loved it and the whole area heard him laughing when he found it. (We were careful to time it so we wouldn’t mess up meetings or anything – the assistant helped).

    1. NPAF*

      Mine is similar! For our director’s birthday milestone we gift-wrapped everything in his office. And then filled it with balloons and streamers. Absolutely hilarious.

      1. Brightlights*

        We did this to a departing coworker on his last day (which was just before the holidays, so we were on a cube decorating spree anyway.) Monitor, mouse, keyboard, tower, and chair (we skipped his desk because we ran out of paper.) He just stared at it in silence.

        Coworker was an old high school friend of mine so I predicted this reaction. We helped him unwrap it. He was not mad.

    2. Alli525*

      My coworkers and I once gift-wrapped our quiet-but-collegial colleague’s entire cubicle (down to individual items like staplers) while he was away on vacation… but we think something must have happened on vacation, because he returned, saw everything, and went so quiet that all of us spent the rest of our time there – we knew our org was being shut down in a few months due to budget cuts – actually terrified that he might get violent. He wouldn’t even speak to us when we tried to apologize and explain it was all in good fun. It was the absolute strangest response I’ve ever seen to a joke.

      1. The Hamster's Revenge*

        One time a coworker was retiring and we filled his pickup full of Styrofoam peanuts. He was so upset, he started crying his eyes out. 20 people stayed after work to pick every single packing peanut out of the cab and box.

        I was nearly attacked by my work husband when I got the keys to his fancy new car and moved it 50 feet behind some trees in the parking lot. We’re still good friends 15 years later, but he has *not* forgiven me for futzing with his car.

        You never know about people sometimes.

        1. Jessen*

          I may have been the one who ended up crying after a grad school office prank once (someone filled my office with balloons). Honestly it was just really really bad timing – I actually thought it was funny, but my mental health was somewhere past in the toilet and down into the sewer system that day for entirely unrelated reasons. And it just ended up being the one more thing I couldn’t handle.

          I felt completely ridiculous because I had definitely provoked it and had absolutely no idea at all why I was crying and I just couldn’t stop. 8 years later and in a completely different field though I’m still very close friends with the perpetrator though.

        2. Schyuler Seestra*

          I would’ve been beyond pissed at anyone who moved my car. Especially my new car. Especially if they got the keys without me knowing to move my new car. Like blacklisted never talked to them again pissed.

          1. A bee*

            Same. It’d be illegal for them to drive it without correct insurance for starters. Maybe it’s a regional thing cos I hear of people moving each other’s cars pretty often in the US, but here in England it’s just not something anyone would do: you don’t operate someone else’s car unless you’re insured on it, and if you’re insured on it it’s for you drive it with everyone’s knowledge anyway. I wouldn’t take that as a prank at all!

            1. A bee*

              Plus accidents happen and if they got hit or scraped something there’d be no insurance and I’d be screwed (and you’re more likely to have an accident first time driving an unfamiliar car!

      2. Le Sigh*

        It was in good fun, but some people just don’t read it this way. Who knows? Maybe he was bullied as a kid and this reminded him of feeling picked on, and he shut down. Or maybe he just really hates pranks or felt a little isolated in the office, and he felt singled out. Or any other number of reasons.

        On the scale of pranks, this one is fairly harmless and in good fun (I wouldn’t have loved it but I would have chuckled); but I also think people who do pranks sometimes forget that regardless of intent and the fact that it was a joke, it doesn’t always read that way to the recipient.

        1. Schyuler Seestra*

          I hate pranks, no matter innocent they may seem. I was bullied hard as a child, that type of trauma stayed with me well into adulthood. I do not like being the butt of the joke. At. All. Being laughed at is triggering, and I mean it in the fullest extent of the phrase. I’m not too sensitive, I’ve tried to get over it. if I came back to work to find my cubicle gift wrapped I would’ve flipped out. If you choose to prank you need to be prepared for a less than desirable reaction.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            It is very important to really know your target. Anyone else flashing back to the person who locked their phobic coworker out on a balcony right before an important client meeting, making coworker late? So many levels of wrong.

            1. Schyuler Seestra*

              indeed. So many of the “pranks” described upthread are pretty mean spirited. Jokes should punch up not down. Sticking Googly eyes on surfaces is pretty funny. Pranks at the expense of the victim are not funny. Unless you know the victim well, and I mean well.

              1. e*

                In a previous workplace that deployed googly eyes regularly, we’d say you’d been vandal-eyes-ed. :)

            2. CmdrShepard4ever*

              Know your target and pranks. I have no problem with pranks and enjoy them. I would have no problem being locked on the balcony for a little bit, but if it made me late for a meeting, phone call or something similar I would be mad.

              1. boo bot*

                (Late reply, but one of the issues with the balcony prank, I think, was that it DID make the target late for a meeting.)

            3. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD*

              We played one on a coworker that went over really well. We had an ongoing joke that if you ever couldn’t figure out something you went to $Coworker. Our boss took it to the extreme (e.g. “$Coworker, can you send me the e-mail about that thing I sent you? What thing? The thing?”). Coworker was on vacation and we covered her computer and desk with post it notes and joke questions, (e.g. “Hi $Co-worker, do you know what I’m doing today? I can’t figure it out”, “How do you do $SomethingObvious”,Do you know where $RandomFakeAcronym is?”). She laughed for days about it when she came back

              1. Phoenix Wright*

                I thought you were going to say you spammed his cell phone with messages, and I was about to scream in horror until you mentioned the post-its. That’s funny indeed!

        2. Adminx2*

          My caveat is always “I don’t have to do any work.” If they clean it all up themselves, that’s fine. I wonder if the people who do the wrapping/stuffing do te clean up of their mess.

          In HS I was pranked by being given a HUGE stack of name tags and told I had to number order them. This took nearly an hour and I was super proud of my organizing efficiencies. They were ceremoniously picked up, marched across the floor, and tossed into the bin. I had to work very hard not to cry. I was a bullied ostracized kid and just wanted to be liked. I understood it was a joke but still felt like a fool in a bad way.

          1. Schyuler Seestra*

            I’m so sorry you had to go through that Adminx2. The person who pranked you was way in the wrong. Thats the other thing I don’t like about pranks. There is an element of gaslighting. The victim is expected to go along with the joke or be deemed irrational/humorless. Even supposedly harmless pranks can be hurtful to the target.

            Agree on the cleanup, if you spent the time to disrupt your coworker’s space you have the time to set everything back to normal. Leave things nicer than you found them.

        3. Ellllle*

          I agree. I hate being singled out. I hate when people try to make me look like a fool, I don’t find it funny at all. And I do NOT like to be jumped out at/touched unexpectedly/made to feel like an emergency is happening. I’ve had my fill of that in the real world.

          I think the best way to do pranks is to do it to everyone in the area so no one feels like its about them and their reaction. At my old office I was one of just a few people who knew you could change the ringtone on our phones. There was a very odd one that was just a girl saying “Hello” and me and my office friend changed everyone’s (about 20 people) phone ring to “Hello” for April Fools

          Everyone thought it was funny and we did it to everyone so no one felt like it was targeting them for any reason. And then we also taught everyone how to change their ringtone and there were some great non-Hello ringtones people could choose!

          I think the only time I’ve found pranks funny is when I have comrades in arms and I don’t feel like its happening to me because people want to see me freak out.

      3. Kvothe*

        We did this to a coworker who was out on site for a few weeks right before Christmas, wrapped everything in Christmas paper and stuffed her extra pair of overalls and printed off a life size version of her face so she had a life size dummy of herself waiting in her cubicle. She found it hilarious that she only unwrapped the things she actually needed and left the rest for like a month.

      4. Snark*

        Way to read the room. Hot take: the “quiet but collegial” colleague is probably not the one with whom you have the relationship required to prank them.

        1. Alli525*

          Thanks ever so much for your snark, Snark. FWIW, we regularly came to lunch with us and joined in the conversations with gusto, joked around with us, etc. – he was a quiet worker, that’s all. And 7 people who regularly worked with him all discussed and genuinely believed that he was likely to enjoy a harmless prank. To this day we really do believe something happened over the trip (which was to his hometown to visit his parents, so maybe one of them became ill or had a falling-out), because he was a completely changed person after that.

      5. Kat in VA*

        I’m not terribly fond of pranks in general.

        This might be because my birthday is on April Fool’s Day. Yes, it really is.

        Firecrackers in birthday cakes are passé, at this point.

        1. FallingSlowly*

          Lol I used to date a guy born on April 1st. Apparently his mum had a very hard time convincing his dad that she was honestly in labour.

    3. Tink*

      I returned from a few days at corporate to find my cubicle completely filled with packing peanuts. To the top.

    4. Anonysand*

      We did this to a coworker at LastJob for his 50th birthday, but with aluminum foil. Everything was so reflective it was hard to look at… We even wrapped his individual binders, pens, and notepads he left out. He was a notorious prankster in the department and thought it was hilarious.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        We did the same thing to a coworker for a birthday! He thought it was funny and left it that way for a few days (unwrapping things as he needed them). It was so shiny!

      2. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

        We did this to a colleague while he was on vacation, but also blocked off a bit of time on the day he came back to help him un-foil his cubicle.

    5. vampire physicist*

      At my old job my (great) manager went on a long vacation after she’d helmed a pretty major initiative, and on the day before she came back we filled her office with balloons.

    6. Not Australian*

      We had a variation on this; booked a fake meeting on my boss’s calendar so that we knew he’d have a bit of spare time, and then kidnapped his office furniture and locked it all in a store room. Put it all back within the hour, after everyone had finished laughing, and his only complaint was that he’d prefer it if we hadn’t returned his phone.

    7. Alexander Graham Yell*

      Oh man, we had this break room that nobody used and one coworker suggested we set it up like a tiki bar. Well, I had a Jimmy Buffett concert to go to and a lot of supplies, so I brought them all in one night and tiki bar-ed his office instead. Sent pics to our coworkers in the main office, who showed them to the CEO – apparently you could hear him laughing all over the office. It wasn’t a great job, but I *loved* the people I worked with.

    8. TardyTardis*

      One employee who was turning 60+ had her cubicle revamped (mainly by her daughter), which included Social Security pamphlets, a walker, and a few other Old People things which actually looked like practical. Much better in its way than the black balloons and the hearse for someone else down the hall…

  7. Mikasa*

    Yesterday, one of the managers used the blender and started screaming. She turned around and had fake blood on her hand. I got a little bit scared, but mostly tried to process how the heck she put her hand in the blender lol. Her actual direct reports didn’t fall for it, though. I should’ve seen it coming because she’s funny.

      1. Mikasa*

        I pass out at the sight of blood, but she’s a bad actor so she was laughing at the same time as she was trying to look scared. It helped make it less real.

      2. Susan*

        My dad lost the top of his left hand ring finger in high school – his stub just goes to the first knuckle. He worked at McDonalds in HS and says that he would put ketchup packets on the edge of the cash register drawer, slam it shut (spurting ketchup) and come up screaming, holding up the stub.

        1. Lighthearted Musical Numbers*

          Oh my goodness, that reminded me of a former high school friend of mine that had a deformed left hand (only the pinky and thumb had any joints, the rest was sort of a permanent fist). he was ALWAYS messing with teachers on the first day of class and subs during the year with variations on the “Oh god, my hand!” and door slams, and whatnot.

    1. TardyTardis*

      This was something that happened at a church seminar–the doors opened inward, and this is important to know. See, two ladies got up very, very early and wove a nice little net with fish line (it was attached so that the victim could get out when she wanted to) decorated with flowers and stuff. So the victim opened the door and ta Daaa!

  8. YRH*

    Yesterday a member of my team sent out an email saying there were brownies in the kitchen. There were actually trays of brown Es. However, when people went to her desk to say that was mean, she had lots of homemade brownies there.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        One thing I’ve learned on this blog: Do not mess with employees’ expectations of free simple carbohydrates. They will cut you.

    1. Former Expat*

      A teacher at one of my schools did that. I thought it was cute. She had the real brownies too.

    2. A B*

      My mom used to make sponge cakes, ie a sheet cake made of kitchen sponges covered in icing. One coworker was apparently just sawing away at that thing with a little plastic knife, till Mom finally gave in and brought out the real cake. I’m laughing just thinking about it.

    3. a*

      My coworker’s birthday was yesterday, so someone in his section sent out a “Birthday treats at 10!” email…but there were no treats. The treats were today (we mostly do treats Tuesday-Thursday, because lots of people don’t work Mondays or Fridays) instead.

    4. Mrs. Fenris*

      My son did that to one of his teachers when he was in 8th grade. His teacher thought it was hilariously clever, and pulled it on multiple students after that. My son was very proud of this and we have had a steady stream of puns and sight gags from him ever since.

  9. TootsNYC*

    Two of us stole someone’s banana and held it for ransom once.
    We cut up letters to make ransom note that said we wanted her Lady Diana Spencer photo, and we cut off a little bit of the step and taped it to the paper.

    When she didn’t respond, we folded a paper napkin to make a blindfold and drew alarmed eyebrows above it, and took my revolver-shaped bookmark from a mystery bookstore and walked in to her office with the “gun” to the “victim’s” head.

    Our mutual boss said, “Give them the picture! They’re desperate!” so she did, and we gave her the banana. And returned the picture later.

    Once I left fake death threats for this guy I worked with–pictures of a blue-footed booby in a mousetrap (already sprung), and a tissue box made to look like a safe perched above his office door.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I love ransom notes! I once left my housemate a ransom note with letters cut from the newsletter for our kitchen’s spoons (which were always disappearing).

      I also once staged multiple murder scenes with Peeps for someone else, but that’s neither here nor there. (A Peep with its throat slit and blood made of ketchup seeping out. A Peep drowned in a water glass. A Peep on the stairs with a broken neck. Etc.)

      1. I'll say it*

        Ohhh yes, once I swiped a coworker’s cell phone he left on a conference room desk and made him search for it. I just emailed him various images of his cell phone around our office and told him I’d keep it there for him if he “cooperated”. On the copier. In the bathroom. In a trash can. Etc. I finally just left it somewhere really nondescript, but he finally caught on he could call it to find it.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ha, newspaper. But in fact, another roommate and I did make a house newsletter (for just the two of us) and it was (intentionally) ridiculous.

      2. No Longer Working*

        Alison, have you seen the Peep diorama contests that show up on the internet every year around Easter? Your post reminded me of them. They are spectacular!

        1. btdubbs*

          For anyone interested, this year’s “Peeple’s Choice Awards” diorama contest is focused science. There are some amazing entries (and voting is still happening until April 14). My SIL has been involved in these contents for years and I’m bursting with pride that she and her friends took up the mantle when the Washington Post ended the tradition of hosting it after 10 years. https://www.theopennotebook.com/2019/03/13/vote-now-for-the-peeples-choice-award/

        2. TardyTardis*

          I saw a bunch of Peeps all sorted by color, and I had a wonderful idea for another LEGO movie–Revenge of the Peeps!

      3. NM*

        Speaking of murder scenes with food… At an old job in food retail, we had these UGLY lamb cakes at Easter. They were creepy looking, tasted bad, and didn’t sell at all. So it’s Easter and we have to spoil them out because they go bad the next day. So… we cut off the head of each lamb cake and stuck it on a little cardboard disk with some red icing. We named them and gave them to each department as a mascot. There was Lamb Boleyn, Marie Lamb-toinette, Lamb Greer, Ewe-n McGregor, etc. The rest of the cake was sampled out to avoid actually tossing food.

      4. Poster Child*

        I worked for an airline and my boss loved one of his model airplanes. So we stole it and left him just the wing with a ransom note. We also did some other fun stuff like taking a company ad of a man holding his child and photo shopping in pictures of an executive vp holding my boss. Best boss I’ve ever had.

    2. RetailRodent*

      My best mate is the king of ransom notes and letter from authorities. He made a ransom note for his sister’s cat, a license order from his brother’s local council for a multi-occupant hedgehog hotel and summons from his local council to a friend when they were caught short on a night out.

      He is also not know for pranks at work unlike all the others and when he taped a phone, a pencil pot and a stapler to the desk not one person accused him of it. He still gigles about that one to this day.

    3. AnonymousArts*

      I did this, but with a colleague’s red Swingline stapler (like in Office Space). I left a ransom note with cut-out magazine letters under his keyboard, asking for $1 million dollars in the fake currency named after our company (Company A Dollars, with the CEO’s face on them, they were made for an event), or I said it would be sold for spare parts. I then left a few additional notes with pictures threatening the stapler, like with it under the tire of a car, or being held over a fountain. Also sent one of the stapler with that day’s newspaper.

      Did it for about a week before I revealed myself at a dinner with him and colleagues outside of work. I was the first person he suspected and asked about it, but I guess I had a good poker face and he believed it wasn’t me.

    4. Luna Lovegood*

      So this isn’t work, but school instead. In Australia, the year 12s (HS seniors) do different themed dress ups instead of uniform during their last week of school. Monday for us was pyjama day, so I wore pj pants, my leaver’s jersey and brought in one of my beloved teddy bears to really get into the spirit. Of course, being my forgetful, unknowingly ADHD self at the time, teddy went missing sometime during the school day. The head of Senior School (this was a K-12 private school) found him, took him to his office, and ransomed him out in exchange for chocolate. I found this hilarious, and happily obliged!

    5. TardyTardis*

      This reminds me of the plastic flamingos which were kidnapped, and Polaroid pictures were left in the mailbox of the flamingos with blindfolds over their eyes. The ransom was about $10,000 in Monopoly money…

  10. Avocado Toast*

    This is a very lowkey prank, but I also got such a kick out of it for reasons I can’t explain.

    I have a part-time gig at a nonprofit and we have a Facebook group for the staff and volunteers to communicate, since we are very rarely in the same place at the same time. It works really well. In addition to more formal announcements, we often use the group to post things like “Has anyone seen the 3-hole punch that usually lives in the office” or “Can someone grab more water bottles? We’re getting low”.

    One guy went back through very old posts like this and commented “helpful” things to questions that never got answered, like “I think the 3-hole punch was out front last time I saw it”. Of course, then people got notifications for questions they had asked over a year ago and had forgotten about. It was harmless and caused good-natured confusion.

    (This might be one of those “you had to be there” things but I swear it made me giggle!)

    1. CMart*

      This is the kind of daffy “great aunt Kathy just got Facebook and is scrolling through the 5 family members’ she friended pages” antics that are just charmingly wholesome and make me smile.

  11. Prof. Kat*

    In grad school, my labmates printed off a photo of our advisor and stuck it in the picture frame I had on my desk, in front of the normal photo of me and my husband. Which was amusing, but tame. What really got me were the additional 100 wallet-sized photos they made and placed all through my belonging — my drawers, books, pencil cup, in the middle of my stack of post-it notes, etc. This happened like 8 years ago, and I went to look something up in a textbook *yesterday*, and a photo fell out. I still laugh every time, because it’s so bizarre.

    1. That One Person*

      Not a prank (well unintentionally on myself I guess), but over a decade ago I’d made the mistake of using a confetti stick in my room and thus caused confetti to fly everywhere. Stupid teenage antics and all that, and it became a hilarious event that any time I “super cleaned” my room I’d find more confetti.

      Well last summer we finally moved out of that apartment and after the movers finished packing everything up… I found more confetti. Always knew there’d be some waiting for when we moved.

      1. Kheldarson*

        That reminds me of something my brother did! He was an RA for his frat floor, and they decided to prank one of their members with the ultimate glitterbomb. Glitter on the bed, in the AC vent, on the blades of the dude’s fan.

        Needless to say, glitter was *everywhere*. They all pitched in to clean after they got their laugh.

        Cue the end of the year though: my bro is closing out the rooms and making sure they’re all clean and in good condition. And what does he find on one of the pipes in the room? A line of glitter.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          In some of my social circles, glitter is known as “craft herpes.” Because you will never, ever, completely get rid of it.

          1. Crocheted familiar*

            In my social circles, we call it ‘gay confetti’ (we’re all LGBTQ+ of some/many variety/-ies, so it does make sense).

            1. Caitlin Burrows*

              During Pride weekend last year, my friend was baptizing everybody with glitter. I went to my cousin’s baby shower the next day and had to explain that no, I was not wearing body glitter to a baby shower, that it was leftover from Pride and that I was going to continue the festivities later that night.

        1. Alli525*

          Ugh, same. I threw mine out even before the Epiphany this year because it was so dry, and I’m still finding needles in odd places around my apartment. Why there are needles in my bathroom, I will never know.

          1. Not Australian*

            We took a Christmas tree to the dump in our car and *ten years later* were still finding needles from it…

          2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            I only buy paper Easter grass for this same reason. The plastic stuff winds up everywhere. I’d find a blade of plastic Easter grass stuck to two pine needles from last year’s Christmas tree in some random corner in September.

          3. TootsNYC*

            When she was young, my daughter and I ran around saying, “The Christmas tree must have had to go potty–there’s a Christmas tree needle stuck on the toilet.”

        2. Alli525*

          And once, when my roommate and I were too lazy/needle-averse to carry the tree down one flight of stairs, we screamed “WATCH OUT!!!” and literally shoved it out of our second-story apartment window, stand still attached. Then ran down to grab the stand and drag it the rest of the way to the curb. NYC, I tell ya.

        3. whingedrinking*

          One time I remarked to my in-laws that I kept finding their pug’s hair on my clothes even months later. At one point I hadn’t visited them since December and I still found dog fuzz on a shirt in February. My sister in law piped up, “You realize what this means. Winnie is the Hanukkah Pup! You think she only has enough fur to cover you for a week and then it lasts eight times as long.”
          (More realistically the hair was riding along with my partner when he visited them and then getting on my stuff. I still laughed.)

      2. Becky*

        Once upon a time we put some confetti (not a lot) in my supervisor’s office for his birthday. We kept finding it for a long time afterwards and even when we moved buildings some of it came too–it was stuck to the bottom of the chair mat on the pointy bits.

      3. Rena*

        We had confetti on the tables at our wedding, and a board game reception with many of our own games. Our friends took the time to sprinkle confetti into the board game boxes, so now we get a really sweet little reminder every time we pull out a game :)

      4. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Haha when I was a teenager, I had some body glitter (hey, it was the 90’s), it was the kind that was more like a shimmery loose powder than glitter. My sister got mad at me and dumped a bunch of it out in my room and I swear to god there was traces of glitter until the house was torn down two decades later!

        1. Luna Lovegood*

          We had a negligent babysitter when I was about eight, who spent the entire day watching Oprah. I won’t go into too much detail as to what my brother and I did, but we were still finding specks of glitter through the house when I was in high school.

      5. TardyTardis*

        I’m still finding pine needles from December’s Christmas tree whenever I vacuum. I think they breed.

    2. Elemeno P.*

      My coworkers did this to me with a cartoon character I hate! I’m still finding pictures.

      1. Elemeno P.*

        I should clarify that I think it’s funny and get fake-angry every time I find another one.

      2. Bazinga*

        I hate the “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas” song. I used to work in a cardiac cath lab. Someone put this song on every computer. So every monitor room, all over the holding area, anywhere I went they would start playing it.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Oh! I once cut out a photo of a man from a magazine, framed it, and put it among the many framed photos my mom has on a bookshelf, to see what would happen. After about a year, it was still there, so I finally asked, “Who is this man?” and she told me she thought it was some relative of my stepfather’s. So I asked him who it was, and he had assumed it was a relative of my mom’s. At that point the jig was up, but they have left the photo there. In later years, I convinced my nieces that it was an uncle they’d never met who lived in Vermont and was a cobbler. No such person exists. (In later years after that, my niece made a Gmail account for this uncle and started emailing me from it, insisting it was in fact my long lost brother/their uncle.)

      1. Hope*

        I did a version of this, only I stuck a framed picture of a dinosaur in with all the framed photos. Took months before my mom noticed it.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          In my family, this would not be a joke. It would be someone’s fave dinosaur, that deserved his place.

          I may also have multiple pictures of my father with a chicken on his head. The picture with my mother holding a goose on her wrist like a raptor made into the paper.

        2. SaraM*

          My dad once did a similar thing to my mom. She sets up one of those Christmas Villages every year (you know the ones, with the ceramic light-up houses), and has all kinds of unrelated figurines and stuff she’ll scatter around the “town”.
          Dad stuck a plastic T-Rex in there one year to see how long it would take her to notice. Now my family’s holiday decorating isn’t complete until Christmas T-Rex is in the village.

          1. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

            My sister likes to add random plastic figures to my mom’s elaborate Nativity scene (she’s got the entire city of Bethlehem laid out, I swear). One year Yoda was among the travelling Kings and it took my mom almost a week to notice.

            1. Other Becky*

              When my dad was a kid the Nativity set and the Noah’ ark got mixed together during a move. So on that side of the family there are giraffes at the stable on Christmas Eve.

          2. Frankie*

            About 10 or so years ago, the rest of my family tried to prank my day by installing an Animal (the Muppet) puppet on top of the tree instead of the usual angel.

            He in turn got one over on us by not reacting st all, and ever since then Animal’s been our default tree topper.

          3. Common Welsh Green*

            Late to this, but my family makes a point of sneakily adding a new, unrelated animal to my creche every year. Some years it takes a few days until I find it. This year Grandson’s First Girlfriend got into the act and added an armadillo to the sheep and goats. I didn’t spot it until dinner on Christmas Eve.

      2. Chocoholic*

        My grandmother had these two paintings of children that were in the house she lived in when I grew up. I guess she had them when my mom and her brothers were growing up as well. The story was that those were Charlotte and Peter, and they were my mom’s older siblings who had been thrown into the Mississippi river when they would not stop fighting int he back seat of the car. :o

      3. DataGirl*

        My daughter’s best friend taped pictures of Lin Manuel Miranda’s face over every picture of herself in the house. Her mom was finding them for months, it was hilarious.

        1. Alli525*

          My previous employer had a really strange hodgepodge of art around the walls (everything from giant landscape paintings of the NYC skyline to framed Jerry Garcia posters), with one being a black-and-white photo of what appeared to be three gangsters, or possibly just old-timey businessmen. At one point, a sales guy printed B&W photos of his and two of his colleagues’ faces and very carefully taped them on – he must have had some Photoshop experience because the sizes were a perfect match. I don’t think anyone noticed for a MONTH, but then it spread like wildfire because it was hilarious.

      4. Annie*

        One April Fool’s Day I planted pictures of Astronaut Sloth all throughout my daughter’s bedroom and bathroom, The best was on the face of Tech N9ne on the poster behind the door.

      5. Wing Leader*

        This isn’t work-related, but my uncle used to flip picture frames upside down or sideways all over the house just to see how long it took my aunt to notice.

        Just for entertainment’s sake, here’s the freaky part of the story–My uncle tragically passed away several years ago. The upside down pictures thing was kind of his calling card. After he passed away, my aunt swears she would still occasionally find certain pictures flipped around. She would set them right, but then later they would be flipped again. She legit believes my uncle came back from the dead just to prank her lol (She lived alone, BTW, so no one else would be around doing it. She had two kids but they were grown and lived on their own).

      6. Mr. Shark*

        This is awesome! I love that the niece got back at you with the gmail account later!

      7. Liz*

        My best friend did something like this to me — snuck a framed photo of an emu onto my mantelpiece.

        As far as she knows, I haven’t noticed it yet — I’m actually waiting for the opportunity to sneak it onto HER shelves via a third party, and it’s challenging since she lives in another country. But now I’m wondering if maybe the emu wants a social media account.

    4. a*

      My husband and his siblings all resemble each other quite strongly. One of our coworkers borrowed his family photo, scanned it, and then Photoshopped his face onto everyone else’s, just to see how long it would take him to notice.

    5. Kate*

      My labmates went about 100 step further. I had set a coworkers belongings in Jello when he was out of town, run of the mill prank. So a few months later when I announced I was going out of town and asked a different coworker to watch my cats all my labmates immediately went to work. I got home from my trip and opened my fridge, grabbed a drink and paused. I opened the fridge again to see a giant picture of my research adviser stuck in the door. I laughed at them. Went to go take a shower, pulled the shower curtain back to find his picture plastered all through out my tub. Well, they put HUNDREDS of pictures of the guy throughout my entire apartment. They even found my passport and put his picture over mine. Every bottle on my bar had his picture inserted into the cap, every record I had had his picture pasted over the artists’s face. When I moved the next year and took down the frames on the wall his life size face was behind all the frames. I just found a picture a few months ago, three moves and a different country later! When I got to work after my trip they had a life size full body shot of him on my office door that had a speech bubble that said “Brrrr….it’s cold in Kate’s fridge”. He was on sabbatical and never knew.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I’d be super angry if they’d permanently defaced all my records, though! When you say paste I’m imagining they actually glued the pictures onto the record sleeves and that would have really made me mad.

    6. entrylevelsomething*

      I worked for a college theater department and when we did our summer clean-outs we’d regularly find confetti from shows we’d done like 6 years before. Oh confetti.

      1. MayLou*

        I volunteer at our local theatre and they still have foil-confetti from a dance show several years ago. Every time anyone flies something in or out, a few pieces flutter down. At least it wasn’t fake snow, I guess.

  12. Big Al*

    I had a buddy who coordinated offsite training for people in our office. One April Fool’s, I created a fake class in his database. I had people in my office call from their cell phones to tell him they were at the training facility and there was no class. One girl put on a good show and yelled at him for a while. I even had the training site people in on it and they called him to ask why he had sent over all these people when there were no training classes set up.

    He only bought it for about 15 min, but we still laugh about it.

  13. sange*

    A few years ago, a colleague posted a detailed FB status on 4/1 about being stuck in her laundry room in her apartment building and how she was waiting for the super to come let her out. For anyone who lives in NYC, especially pre-war buildings with basement laundry rooms, this is a real and believable situation. We all commented on the status, started texting her, offered to reschedule meetings…and none of us realized our colleague was sitting in the same open office room that we were in. Literally right in front of us. Pretty funny.

    1. You remember this*

      OH! This one! My other coworker was on the phone with customer service for her Fitbit, back when they were causing rashes on people, so the hold time was endless. She had a real person who asked her to continue holding, but after awhile she hung up. I called back from deskphone, three feet to her right and asked if she’d just called.
      “Yes.”
      “So you did hang up on our representative.”
      “Yes, but…
      I have no idea what she said after that. I fell on the floor laughing, people came over from the next pod. I couldn’t talk. She’s still trying to explain why she hung up.
      And then the other coworker and I who hide giant toy rats and spiders in each others work space had this moment:
      I called her from my cell and asked her to cover for me for the day. She said sure. She didn’t notice me sitting across from her for an hour. It was work world hilarious.

    2. CmdrShepard4ever*

      This is similar to a prank I pulled on friends I texted a lot of them “I lost my phone can you call it to help me find it please.” Yes I texted them from said lost phone. This was pre-smartphone days so it would have been pretty hard if not impossible for me to have texted them from the lost phone. That prank would not really work now since there are ways to text from a computer, tablet etc to your phone contacts.

      Yes quite a few people actually called it or messaged me other helpful suggestions.

  14. OrganizedHRChaos*

    I just picked up an empty donut box and a veggie tray. People were pissed when they opened the box but it was funny all day since we have multiple shifts during the day.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One of these years I’m going to do that. Brilliant…. the only harm is to their expectations of free sweets.

    2. Guacamole Bob*

      I saw the idea on an old thread here of buying bags of Skittles, M&M’s, and Reeses Pieces and just mixing them all together in a big bowl, and I always thought that was the appropriate level for an office prank.

      1. Bad Hare Day*

        Please don’t! I have a peanut allergy and while I’m careful about the food I consume, other allergy sufferers might not be.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            No. The plain ones are manufactured in the same place as the peanut ones, so there’s no guarantee there’d be no peanut residue in the plain ones….

          2. CMart*

            It would take work, but just orange/yellow skittles and Reese’s Pieces. That way peanut allergy sufferers would know to stay away, as it would appear to just be the Reese’s.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          I think the original place I saw this, they put the wrappers for all three or some other sign so that people knew what it was. So you’re stuck sorting out the candy in some way or eating the flavors mixed together (shudder). Takes some of the surprise out of it, but I agree that mystery food is a bad idea in an office setting.

      2. EnfysNest*

        I did this one for April Fool’s Day a few years ago, and it was a big hit. We had a very small office with no visitors and I had confirmed everyone’s allergy status multiple times, since I often brought in snacks to share. If I ever do it again, though, I’ll still leave out the Reese’s, because they went completely unnoticed – my coworkers only identified the M&Ms and Skittles.

        I spent extra time ahead of time sorting out the colors (while wearing gloves) so that none of the purple Skittles made it in, for example, and so that it wasn’t obvious that some of the colors were overrepresented. Looking at the bowl, you couldn’t tell at first glance that they were anything other than regular M&Ms.

        One by one, my 3 coworkers who were in that day grabbed a handful, started eating, realized what had happened, and then laughed. And then grabbed another handful and kept coming back for more helpings throughout the day. :P So it was definitely well received!

      3. Alex the Alchemist*

        My aunt did something similar to a friend where she mixed up plain and salt and vinegar potato chips. Her friend hated salt and vinegar so it was kind of a Russian Roulette of potato chips.

    3. Zephy*

      At OldJob I sabotaged the donut box on 4/1 by putting a note on it. I think it said something like “WARNING: BEES” or something else obviously ridiculous but nobody touched the donuts.

    4. The Hamster's Revenge*

      Coworkers on the day shift were notorious for leaving out a donut box with one half-eaten donut in it by the time we (night shift) showed up. On National Donut Day, we ran out to the grocery store at 4am for fresh donuts and proceeded to tear apart 2 dozen donuts so each one looked like it had at least one bite taken out of it.

      Day shift was not amused.

    5. Sauron*

      The office assistant at my department in college would regularly put out donuts, and one year did the same thing – however, to avoid hungry college student riots, she had to keep real donuts under the desk.

    6. Kyrielle*

      I heard about this one and wanted to do it – but I heard about it after my last April Fool’s Day at $PreviousJob (where good-natured pranks were a Thing, and we once gift-wrapped someone’s entire office for their honeymoon). $CurrentJob doesn’t do pranks, even low-key, so I have never used it.

      I always thought it’d be neat to do it with donuts/fruit in the morning, and pizza/vegetables in the afternoon. (With actual donuts/pizza available, of course.) But spendy. A couple dozen donuts is easier. :)

  15. MayorDana*

    Ohhhh do I have one. This year some supervisor thought it would be hilarious to tell us all that as of May 1st any time we were sent to the workman’s comp doctor we’d be drug and alcohol tested. We work in an industry that has a high instance of repetitive motion injuries. Last we were told they accounted for 95% of all claims. So a friend and I who are both strongly anti drug testing when not necessary were on a mission getting ready to coordinate against this new policy.
    Today the supervisor is all wasn’t that a good one! Like duuuude no! Making people who might smoke a little weed in their off time fear for their job is not at all funny!

    1. Life is good*

      Reminds me of this “joke” played on me and my fellow employees. Years ago, at my old dysfunctional company, the owner/boss called the group from my office into the conference room and had all the other offices on speaker phone. He then announced that the company had been sold and the new company would be interviewing us to keep our jobs. There was an audible gasp and more than a few people were in tears. After about 5 minutes of this, he came clean and said “April Fools!” What an asshole he could be. The office mood was pretty tense the rest of the day…no one was amused.

      1. Kat in VA*

        One of my execs pulled this on me this year. He sent an email to his directors and me (I’m his EA) saying that he’d tendered his resignation and wanted us to know before it became public, and he’d be working on his transition plan with the GM, blah blah. I was in a staff meeting for a different exec, saw the email, and shot him a text asking OH NO – WHY – I LIKE YOU – PLEASE DONT LEAVE. He gave it a few minutes then shot back APRIL FOOLS, CAN’T BELIEVE YOU FELL FOR IT.

        However, this particular exec was planning on resigning this past December – it was all very hush-hush but as his EA he wanted to give me a heads up. So I moped around for a few days, and then discovered he was talked out of the resignation, so it’s not like there wasn’t precedent…

    2. TardyTardis*

      That wouldn’t be a joke where I worked. We had a company meeting shortly after pot was legalized here, where they said (among other things, including new options for our 401(k)s)–“Pot is legal. Don’t do it if you want to keep your job.”

  16. K8 M*

    The 3 male members of my team were VERY in to coffee- gourmet coffee- and spent a long time talking about their favorite/ new roasts, grinds, brewing techniques, etc. They would go on business trips and bring back beans from where ever they had been. One of them really liked coffee, but he wasn’t pretentious about it like the others. (Side note, I only drink coffee when I’m cold and then it’s just creamer with a splash of coffee in it, I was excluded because of this). So Non Pretentious Coffee Drinker (NPCD) decided to play an April Fools Day prank on the Most Pretentious Coffee Drinker (MPCD) because MPCD was convinced that he knew everything about coffee and could easily tell good from bad. NPCD made a “special blend” with traditional coffees (Maxwell House, Folgers, Great Value, etc) and brewed it, then went to MPCD and really just started extolling the virtues of his special blend. MPCD gave it a try and LOVED it. He said it was the best blend NPCD had ever made! NPCD let him wax rhapsodic about his special blend all day and then at the end of the day revealed the recipe to MPCD. MPCD was shocked and then laughed and said “well, it really does taste good!” It didn’t cure his pretentiousness though- he was back at it the next day.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      LOL this is wonderful. I saw where it was going and gleefully giggled away as it unfolded as expected.

    2. Roly Poly Little Bat-Faced Girl*

      This reminds me of the Saturday Night Live skit where Chris Farley is in one of those hidden camera, Taster’s Choice type commercial spoof. Still makes me laugh out loud.

    3. NOspresso*

      Haha, that reminds me of when my colleague and I spent ages on a deal with a new company that offered a machine with freshly ground coffee that seemed very promising. Of course, because people hate change, when we got the machine for a test period, every single colleague complained about the taste not being as good as the good ol’ Nespresso machine. We got so fed up with them not even giving it a chance we did a blind test on the biggest coffee drinkers and not ONE got it right. So much for it “smelling and tasting off”.

      …Unfortunately even after all that we sent it back after the test period because it just wasn’t worth all the complaining.

  17. momofpeanut*

    I had a coworker who turned everything in my office upside down. Every document on my bulletin board, every picture in every frame – even the screen of my monitor.

    In revenge, I came in the following weekend and put every scrap piece of furniture in his office and changed his door sign to read “Storage”

    1. MsMaryMary*

      When I was in college, some guys on the 4th floor decided to move all of the common room furniture from their floor to the 3rd floor common room one night. There was much confusion the next morning as one group of kids woke to an empty common room and another found their common room overflowing with couches and chairs.

      Housekeeping was very upset and called the campus police. The police came, but had to explain that no crime had been committeed. Nothing was stolen, nothing was damaged, it was just…moved.

      As an adult, I am much more sympathetic towards housekeeping – cleaning up after college kids has to be very trying. I think the 4th floor residents did end up helping to move all of the furnitre back where it belonged.

  18. I'll say it*

    We did the old “air horn attached to the bottom of an office chair” bit once, and got it on video. Definitely fabulous. But for long term prankability: google annoy-a-tron. I’ve had several. The magnetic part can be stuck to, say, the inside back of a filing cabinet. And can be set to sound like a single cricket chirp. Might make the office owner decide to call in an exterminator…after a few weeks.

    1. I'll say it*

      Oh and – googly eyes replacing all the regular eyes on coworkers’ family photos. Super easy and effective!

      1. I'll say it*

        Oh AND – I once took a cheesy photo of a coworker and made copies and put them in all sorts of places – the underside of a lid to a candy jar, under a monitor stand, randomly stuck in a file folder full of (internal) papers, behind doors….he was still finding them more than a year later.

        Then there was the guy who went home to the UK for a visit and came back to his desk decorated like Hogwarts. That one cost a bunch, I bought a whole lot of plain brown boxes around the size of shoeboxes, and those were the “stones”.

        I might be kind of awful, now that I think about it.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Googly eyes on photos in frames I hope. Otherwise sticker glue can damage pictures…and we don’t all have a way to reprint old pics.

      3. e*

        I strongly disagree with the annoy-a-tron as a fun prank.
        The guy in the office next to mine was pranked with two annoy-a-trons. He found the first pretty quickly. But a couple hours later, we were still trying to find the second. We moved *everything* out of his office, and it still chirped. We even opened the light switch and popped up a few ceiling tiles, trying to find the beastly thing. Several hours of patience and productivity lost.
        At the end of the day, our office manager sent an email to all 50 employees, strongly encouraging the prankster to remove it before work the next day.

        1. ScarlettInTheBallroom*

          I guess you have to know your audience for that one! I would have it hilarious

        2. JustaTech*

          As someone who is currently hunting down a low-battery chirp in my lab, I would find this less funny. (I got an annoy-a-tron Christmas ornament several years ago, which was sort of funny until I discovered that it had broken and there was no way to turn it off. I called ThinkGeek and they said they were very sorry but all I could do was wait for the battery to die, but if I filmed myself taking a hammer to it they’d put it up on the website.)

    2. Busy*

      We hung motion activated Christmas carol balls under my old bosses desk chair. Haha he couldn’t figure it out for hoooouuuuuurrrrrrsssssss.

    3. CDM*

      Similar to the annoy-a-tron

      Way back in the late 80’s my now-husband bought a book and computer disk of various pranks – one of which was a file that, when run, made the computer speaker make random chirping, screeching, squealing sounds intermittently. I ran that on a colleague’s PC when the team was in a meeting one day. Drove them absolutely batty for hours trying to track it down, and once the PC was powered down that night, it was gone forever without a trace.

    4. Flash Bristow*

      Alternatively, get servers or pcs that have a speakers, and get them to bleat or moo every random no of seconds. Just enough to make people in the room think “did that just happen?” and “was that over here?” but it goes quiet too quickly to be convincing.

    5. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      The cricket chirp happened to me. MONTHS of it. Only a few people were in on it and I could tell it was fake, but it was almost 2 years before I learned who actually set it up.

    6. TardyTardis*

      My husband used it on his students because his high pitch hearing was gone and it didn’t bother him in the least.

  19. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    My favorite “prank” is simply updating the phone registry to give everyone a super hero name. So if Accounting was calling it said “Wonder Woman” and if shipping was calling it showed “Superman” and the boss was “The Hulk”.

    Then waiting to see who even realized the change since so many don’t look at the caller ID. It made me chuckle at least.

    I don’t mind tomfoolery as long as it’s lighthearted.

    1. ggg*

      Foiled prank: I once used a php script to change the “Ready” message on the printer outside my office to “Insert Coin.”

      The first person who happened upon the printer saw the message, muttered something about “why is this damn thing never ready when I need it?” and re-booted it, erasing the message.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        At a sleep over in high school, one of my friends and I wanted to mess with the girls who fell asleep. We moved the clocks ahead two hours. The wall clocks, digital clocks in all the unoccupied rooms, the stove, the VCR. Friend up one girl at 8 because she had to leave by nine (we didn’t want to screw her over after all, just mess with her) “Hey, hey, wake up, we overslept!”
        Girl rolls over, pulls her arm out of her sleeping bag and checks her watch.
        “It’s 8:00.”
        DAMMIT!

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        LOL drats, that sounds like something that would happen here if I tried such a thing.

    2. JanetM*

      Not an April Fool’s prank, but long ago when I was the default Novell Netware administrator at my office, I discovered the command “Fire Phasers” and inserted it into everyone’s start-up script.

  20. Audrey Puffins*

    Most people in our office print out the list of employee telephone extensions and tape it to our monitors. One year I had a co-worker with a glorious sense of humour, so I edited the extension list so that everyone’s names were spoonerised – Jane Smith became Smane Jith, Clementina Warbleworth became Wementina Clarbleworth, and so on – and stuck this new improved version to this co-workers monitor. It took him weeks to notice it, but he was genuinely tickled when he finally did.

  21. Amber T*

    I can’t imagine a prank ever flying in my office, but that doesn’t mean I’m not tempted every year to buy a bag of googly eyes and stick them on random items (the coffee maker, the printer, etc). Has anyone ever done this, and how did it go over?

    1. Shark Whisperer*

      I’ve done this! It went over super well at my office. The secret to making it really fun is to just do one object at a time. I started with a poster that was on the wall in a hallway. No one notices at first. The next day it was a coworkers stapler. Then the printer, etc. Once people caught on, it became a fun scavenger hunt to find all the googly eyes.

      Just make sure that you don’t stick them to anything paper that someone would be upset if you damaged. Googly eyes are easy to remove from slick surfaces, but they can damage paper.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’ve always worked with a mutually amused bunch. They have toy rats and fake bugs to put on the donut boxes etc. So I’m kind of bummed that you don’t get to put googly eyes on things…

      All my “reminder” notices and meeting notifications have movie or cartoon themes…so I don’t adult unless the IRS or OSHA walks in AKA it’s-required.

      1. Zephy*

        In the late 90s my mom worked for an insurance agency, and she and her coworkers had an assortment of fake plastic bugs/rats/poop/etc that they would prank each other with. Her signature move was to take the ball out of her victim’s mouse.

        1. Three Flowers*

          So the first thing I thought of when I read this combination of pranks was taking somebody’s mouse ball and replacing it with a plastic bug (like, a spider up in the mouse) as a nice surprise for the user. Now I must mourn the passing of mice with roller balls, for in the age of lasers, this prank shall never be realized. The shrieks would be spectacular.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I had a trackmouse forever and my coworkers used to pop it out and hide it in my desk drawer when they were messing around on my computer.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      LOL I’d totally forgotten about my smiley face. There’s a hallway that ends in a wall, with a door to the left and another to the right. Both open into the hallway. Both have stoppers for the door handles.
      And for a year or more there was a smile taped to the wall underneath them.
      (The painters noticed, alas.)

    4. Anon April Fools*

      This was my prank on my boss last year! You can buy a huge case of googly eyes on Amazon for just a few dollars. I stuck the eyes to my hands to make them less sticky before I attached them, and I didn’t stick them to anything that would be damaged (like paper). He thought it was funny enough that he left most of them up on his office, including the ones I would find annoying (like the small pair with eyelashes I stuck to his mouse).

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That’s probably one of the few pranks I could handle. I’m not good with pranks. So have at it, I say!

      1. Flash Bristow*

        I’m glad I’m not the only one bad with pranks.

        In one place I worked, the two of us UNIX admin were unpopular – the rest were a clique of windows people.

        I decided not to take part in secret santa. Didn’t know who I’d get, didn’t think I’d get anything worth having. Knew them well enough that I’d be given a “joke” .

        My colleague, a very serious guy, spent a while sorting a decent pressie for his match. He received… a farting gnome. He was upset.

        I was right, don’t take part if it’s not your thing!

    6. Alex the Alchemist*

      I posted about my googly eye endeavor down below, but it was awesome! I got bonus points for sticking the tiny ones on all of the person’s K-cups :)

    7. Nea*

      I haven’t done googly eyes, but I saw a similar thing on Tumblr I’m dying to do next April Fool. Someone bent the outer edge of a bunch of paperclips and stuck googly eyes to it – ta da! Clippy!

      Clippy was then stuck to a bunch of post-it notes with sayings like “It looks like your javascript is working. Want me to fix that for you?” or “It looks like you’re trying to make coffee. Want me to help?” and then scattered throughout the office. (Including at least one whose message suggested it was posted in a restroom.)

      Silly, unoffensive, nondestructive.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        “It looks like you’re writing a ransom note. …Need some help?”

        I miss that annoying little dude.

    8. Smol Book Wizard*

      I can’t speak for it specifically in a work setting, but I (usually not pro-pranks, being rather gullible and a bit anxious) was inutterably delighted by small paper eyes being left all over my dorm room by my roommate. I was still finding them on new things weeks later that I hadn’t noticed yet and so would burst out giggling when I opened the fridge and saw the milk carton, etc..
      It was the prank that kept on pranking, my roommate and I agreed. I left the eyes on my comb for a long time.

    9. Not Gary, Gareth*

      I did this for a well-beloved manager who was moving on to a new job. Before he cleaned out his desk, a few of us put googly eyes on everything we could reach – and because this was a place where people had lots of toys and stuff on their desks, there were tons of options. My personal favorites were the googly eyes that fit perfectly into a photo of him and his girlfriend, and the googly eyes on the toy otter. I think I still have a picture of the otter in my phone…

      And yes, he loved it.

  22. lurker*

    I’m a middle school teacher and we have a big bulletin board near the office with pictures of all the faculty and staff posted. This year our office staff planned ahead and solicited copies of everyone’s school photos from when WE were in middle school, and replaced all of our bulletin board pictures with our old school pics. The students LOVED it!

  23. Secretary*

    My deskmate and I at OldJob used to play pranks on each other and it was HILARIOUS!

    Really simple stuff, my office mate would often flip over my desk chair when I got up, and when I came back tell me I left it that way. Or he would turn my computer monitor around.

    I did the thing where you take a small piece of a post it note and put it on the lazer sensor of his mouse. He spent a minute trying to move his mouse, then right as he was about to restart his computer I was like, “Something wrong with your mouse, Fergus?” and he looked over his mouse and burst out laughing.

    We had to stop the pranks because a different coworker went to management after he flipped her chair over, but it was fun while it lasted.

  24. Ptarmigan*

    I worked for a small firm of contractors once, and at some point we were bought by a larger but very remote (we never saw them) company. One day our IT guy (in league with the President, a known prankster) put up fake surveillance cameras, and the President sent out an email letting us know that the new parent company had had these installed to monitor work at our job, and that we shouldn’t worry about it.

    Most of us thought it was weird but basically shrug-worthy, but one of my coworkers got really upset and emailed a bunch of people including the remote company about how unacceptable it was. Oops!

  25. TheRedCoat*

    We had a manager and a coworker out for a couple weeks at the same time (for the SCA folks, Pennsic) when I worked in the call center. Morale wasn’t great, and being understaffed led to a lot of rough days. So I led a charge to prank our missing coworkers. For our teammate we sealed his cube with streamers and filled it with balloons. For our manager (who hated puns), we all found pages upon pages of puns, cut them out and taped them in random spots all over her (slightly bigger) cube. A year later and my manager was still finding puns taped in places like under her keyboard, on the bottom side of desk, just… everywhere. She left a few up when she left the company, and even though I am in a different department I still hear the new manager stumble across on every once and awhile, and she’s just confused.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        :: hides in shame realizing that it was your co-workers at the SCA event not you ::

        1. TheRedCoat*

          Oh, I wanted to be there. But 70% of the department was SCAdian, and the manager was summer queen that year. XD I’ll make it to Pennsic someday!

          (also EK :) )

          1. TheRedCoat*

            Oh, no, I’m mixing up my years. She was summer queen the next year. She was just a normal baroness at that point.

    1. Free Meerkats*

      Obviously, at least one of you was a herald.

      Former Solar Herald of Atenveldt.

  26. Indie*

    My entire department recently moved to a new floor, fully equipped with glass walls for writing on and adjustable height desks. On day 2 after the move, early in the morning, all the desks were set on either the highest or the lowest depending on how tall their “owner” was. As I am a rather short person, I had to stand on my toes in order to put mine down where it belonged.

    The only two people already in the office at that time were my manager and myself.

  27. jeannie*

    At my old job, my two-person team had a friendly prank rivalry with the two-person team in the office next to ours. This one was my favorite: April Fool’s was on Monday, so we came in Sunday and set up Dixie cups filled with water all across the floor of their office (starting closest to their desks and working towards the door so we didn’t wall ourselves in). You know, so that they couldn’t casually walk into their office without stomping on the cups and getting water everywhere. We even gridded out a little love note in food coloring (think “I [HEART] HR” for an HR dept). Our poor coworkers were running to the kitchenette and pouring out Dixie cups for like 20 minutes that morning! Maybe not the greatest way for them to start their week, but far from the worst, either.

    1. MsMaryMary*

      We did that once to a coworker’s desk when he was out of town. He came in to find a glass of water on every corner of his desk.

      We only let him spend 10 minutes or so walking to the break room to empty the cups two at a time before letting him know we used the office cart to carry all the cups when setting up the prank.

  28. nnn*

    If your target is a touch typist, move either the F or J key over one space on their keyboard. They’ll find they’re ttoubg kuje tgus and can’t figure out why.

    If they aren’t a touch typist, switch the M and N keys.

    Another one that I saw in real life: Jane and Sally both joined the team at the same time and in the same role and, even though they looked nothing alike, people kept getting them mixed up. So on April Fool’s Day, they quietly sat in each other’s cubes.

    Which reminds me of one from back in high school: on April Fool’s Day, all the goth kids dressed as hippies and all the hippy kids dressed goth.

    1. TootsNYC*

      At one job, I had the ability to create custom keyboards (in XyWrite). It was useful for inserting certain type coding.

      But I used it to prank the three or four people I thought would handle it well–I changed their keyboards so that every time they typed a capital-letter A, they got April Fool’s. So, they got their A, they just had to backspace the rest of them.

      (once i used this to prank a friend, but I did it badly; she’d said something about her ex-MIL being critical of her, and we joked about it, and I programmed her computer to say critical things–thinking she’d recognize our jokes. And she said she understood why, but it was still really harmful to have her computer “talking” negatively to her. I still feel bad)

      And they all knew it was me, so they called and said, “Fix it!”

      One time, someone gave notice to go to a hot new job, and I fixed their computer so that when they signed on, the program would open a file that said, “We will miss you,” and blink. She called me to find out how to get rid of it (she just needed to abort or store), and I offered to take it off; she said, “no, I kind of like it.”

      1. Qosanchia*

        My friend tried to do this to one of his teachers in high school, and she didn’t notice it for ages. Apparently she was a touch typist, and didn’t need the home row markers either. Quality prank backfire.

        1. Kelsi*

          Yeah, you’d actually need to reprogram my keyboard for this to work. My home keyboard is ancient and half the letters are worn down to unreadable anyway.

    2. Anonymeece*

      Ha! My coworker and I constantly get confused for each other (to the point that when someone we don’t know says, “Oh, thank you so much for that presentation to my class!”, we just accept it and pass it on to each other). She always wears vintage 50’s clothing, full make-up, and I used to wear flannel shirts, workboots, and jeans, so on April Fool’s one year we swapped styles. Our manager looked at us in confusion then started laughing when she realized.

    3. Blue*

      Ah, I just remembered that Halloween before last, one of our SVP-type people dressed up as the other one. Our office was on the casual side of business casual, but this dude wore a suit. Every. Single. Day. So when she rocked up in a suit, tie, and slicked back hair, everyone immediately knew who she was supposed to be. Fortunately, he had a good sense of humor about it – probably because he was already very used to people teasing him about the suits.

    4. Classic Rando*

      If your target is a touch typist, move either the F or J key over one space on their keyboard. They’ll find they’re ttoubg kuje tgus and can’t figure out why.

      That’s so brilliantly evil, it’s good that I work from home because I just did a weird cackle/belly laugh combo at that suggestion

    5. Meg Murry*

      Yes, my favorite office prank was when we swapped the M & N keys on a coworkers computer. He was a “hunt and peck with 2 fingers” typist, and had one of those letters in his login name for the computer. He kept trying to log in over and over and couldn’t understand why it wouldn’t work. We sat back and snickered at him until he reached the point of calling IT before we finally confessed.

      1. JessaB*

        What do you do if you get locked out after x number of tries, any log in system should have that feature.

    6. Bilateralrope*

      Keyboards typically aren’t designed for keys to be removable. Who do you think is going to pay to replace the keyboards you broke ?
      Including the courier fee to get the replacement into the office asap if they dont have spares.

      1. ScarlettInTheBallroom*

        Lots of keyboards are though.

        In my last job I rearranged the keys on my coworker’s keyboard to read “f*** you”. We had a really good relationship and it went over well. I promptly switched his keys back for him after he noticed :)

      2. MayLou*

        Old keyboards often are – although you have to be gentle in case you snap the little plastic bits that hold it together (ask me how my last laptop died… don’t eat toast and type, folks!).

  29. Elaine*

    Years ago I was on a team of 12 people. We worked the second shift and reported to a manager who worked the regular day shift. We decided we would all put in a request for leave of absence due to pregnancy. The back story is that a couple of years earlier, half the day shift got pregnant, all with due dates in a range of two months. So it was likely he might believe it for a while. We mixed them in with other items in his in box so he wouldn’t see them all at once, and we put ones from the younger women nearest the top. Some due dates were given as Labor Day, some as Halloween (triplets!), etc.

    He reported back to us at the start of our next shift that he wasn’t too worried at first. When he got to the third one, he became concerned. As more appeared he was suspicious, and he knew he’d been pranked when he got to requests from older women and the men. This was before parental leave was available for men, so they were all passing themselves off as pregnant.

    He thought it was so funny that he picked up all 12 requests in a big stack and took it up to HR. He handed them over and asked what they should do – this was a disaster! And she bit on it! He finally had to tell her it was an April Fools joke. Fortunately, she also thought it was funny. So we scored twice with our prank.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      Now see, this is much better than the prank I observed. I’m a contractor (w-2 employee), and the contract gig I was on was for a government agency. Two government supervisors (female) played a horrible prank on a then-contractor (female) to convince her she was pregnant!!! And it wasn’t even April 1st!

      1. ContentWrangler*

        How did they convince someone else that she was pregnant? That would be terrible to prank about! Seems mean-spirited.

  30. Seifer*

    At my last company, when a group of us attended a conference, some of those that were not able to go wrapped our desks on Christmas-themed wrapping paper. One of my friends was a wrapper and he was very thorough–he wrapped scissors, pens and pencils, even the mouse and mouse pad. Then on the day that we got back from the conference, they all pretended that nothing was wrong. And also, no one had scissors to cut through the paper, so we literally had to tear through all the wrapping paper like it was Christmas morning.

  31. Ihmmy*

    At last job, I worked with a bunch of silly folk who loved pranking each other. We were pretty good natured about it, so some of these wouldn’t work for other people but for us it was all fun and games.

    It started with whenever we’d get a spam phone call (especially the one that starts with a cruise ship horn) we’d transfer it to someone else in our small office. One coworker was especially good at walking silently, so one day when I did my normal get into the office routine of putting my lunch away, he managed to duck past me without me seeing him and hide under my desk, and hollered boo at me when I came back to my desk. Scared the dickens out of me but I ended up laughing a bunch.

    One coworker kept trying to get us good and just, never quite good. He was also just on the edge of homophobic, so one time I ended up finding a very flamboyantly posed person and photoshopped coworkers head onto him. Then other coworker and I hid these photos alllll over EoH Coworkers office, in his folders, etc. He was finding them months later. We also filled his office with a bunch of balloons once time.

  32. MrsMurphy*

    The best prank we played on my boss was actually for his birthday. He‘s a very meticulous person who keeps his office in perfect order, and quietly requested that we do not put up decorations (we tend to get a little carried away otherwise). In the weeks leading up to it we kept teasing him that we would go all out – then on his birthday, he arrived to find his office door closed with a bit of confetti scattered in front of it. He opened the door fearing the worst…

    …to find everything exactly where it should be, but with a framed photo of his office decked out in a ridiculous amount of decorations. We‘d put them up one day when he was out, took pictures and immediately set everything to rights again. It took a few hours, but it was so worth it!

    Proper April pranks tend to be tame here and no one minds. Switching the monitor cables of two colleagues whose desks are back to back, or leaving a note for a colleague to „please call Mr. Baer about his account, you can reach him at [number]” and make that the number of the local zoo – things like that.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Our full-timers had to “share” their desks with people who came in to work the evening shift. One of the guys complained when people didn’t switch the mouse back, or if they left the stamps out on the desk instead of lining them up against the wall where he usually kept them.

      So one day we went to his desk and completely tidied everything. We re-hung the papers on his bulletin board, the stamps, the books, everything to be perfectly spaced and perfectly level.

      We thought we were SO clever, but he didn’t even notice.

    2. feministbookworm*

      Bravo. This reminds me of on Parks and Recreation when Leslie convinces Ron she’s going to throw him this enormous birthday party…. but actually has planned for a bottle of whiskey, a steak, a movie, and solitude.

    3. Silly*

      I work at the Zoo and receive calls like this quite often on April 1st. Some people get so embarrassed and some people just cannot comprehend that they were pranked. “No, I received a call from Mr. Bear! Please let me speak with him!”
      The best part was that at one point, we actually had two C. Lyons (sea lion) working for us. “Hi, I’m returning a call from Mr. C. Lyon” “Ok, great, let me transfer you…”.

  33. TootsNYC*

    We got a public-relations package that included a little gizmo that played a tune from a Verdi opera every time you opened the box (it was light-sensitive).

    I ripped the box open to get it out, and I put it in my direct-report’s desk drawer, so that when she opened the drawer, it would start “singing.”

    It took DAYS for her to actually need anything in her desk drawer, and then I wasn’t there to see her try to figure out what it was.

    1. Anon April Fools*

      I love this one! It’s so harmless but silly, and it would definitely make me laugh. I’m sorry you weren’t there to see the payoff, but I may steal this idea for a future year.

  34. irene adler*

    Swiped the mini-basketball from the office of the very annoying sales associate.

    We shrink-wrapped it then placed it in an ultra-cold freezer (-60 degrees C) where it shriveled up like a raisin.
    He searched everywhere for the thing-labs, other offices, lunchroom. Grilled everyone he came across. Asked for some hints.

    Kept telling him he was ‘cold’, really ‘cold’. He didn’t get it.

    Days later, we pulled the remains from the freezer and handed it to him (with gloves). Cautioned him not to bounce the thing or it would shatter. Let it warm up first.

    Poor mini-basketball was never quite the same. Neither was the sales associate.

    1. Amne*

      Was that meant to be an example of a bad, mean prank, or do you actually think breaking someone’s stuff is funny if you don’t like them?

  35. Lee*

    I once left a donut box filled with bananas on the break room table including a note inside that said “April Fools! Come to my room for a real donut.” That was a hit. Also the time I put googely eyes on all the lunchboxes in the refrigerator.

  36. ScienceLady*

    When I was a teacher, one of my co-workers once filled every drawer – every. drawer. – with broken crayons collected from the old art supply room. It was definitely a…colorful prank. (CSI “YEAAAAHHHH” sound.)

  37. AliceBD*

    There was a VP who would regularly come through and make our area clean up because he thought it looked trashy. Not when VIPs were coming (we already cleaned up then), and everything was totally normal amounts of office messiness. We just did things like have some papers on our desks or whatever and he hated it. On his last day before he retired, with the help of his assistant as to timing, we put “trash” everywhere around his office and our general cubicle area. It was all clean paper just scrunched up. Taped it to his glass wall in his office, strewn on the floor, etc. It made us feel good and he laughed and got the joke.

  38. JudyInDisguise*

    I was seated directly opposite an IT Tech amidst a corporate cubicle farm. He managed to sneak into my cubicle and connect a secondary mouse to my computer. Periodically, I lost control of my mouse and the curser would just go ballistic (seemingly) all on its own all over my monitor. Of course, I called him over to help. When he got there, I couldn’t duplicate the problem. Finally, his supervisor came over to ask if I was still having problems with my computer – (insert an uproar of tech- nerd giggles) My IT-dude neighbor confessed and disconnected his mouse from my computer. The funniest part was how funny they thought it was. At best, it was annoying – but their reaction was hilarious. I thought it was kinda cute, but they thought it was the funniest thing ever, which made watching their reaction funnier than the actual prank. Ah, those adorable nerds……….

    1. Admin of Sys*

      We had this happen but with an actual support call once. (though it then got duplicated over and over again by pranksters in the office) We’d acquired something like 5 wireless mice/keyboard sets and folks installed them, but they were all operating on the same frequency. Most of the time, in the cube pods where everyone faced out, the mice were far enough away the signal didn’t transfer. But if you were aligned so that you were facing another person (with a cube wall between you) the wireless mouse signal was strong enough to effect the other person’s machine. So, cue lots of calls about the cursor ‘moving on it’s own’ or ‘fighting me’, and one where the computer ‘opened up my word document and started typing!’ because someone managed to have a shortcut in the same place as the person across the wall.

  39. Drax*

    I have two at two different offices.

    The Shop Manager had his own office and a deep deep hatred for Justin Beiber (thanks to his daughter) so when he went on vacation for a week, we printed thousands of neon pink pieces of paper with Justin B’s face on them and plastered his entire office. Floor to ceiling on the walls, wrapped his desk in it, some of the shop guys even dangled them from the ceiling etc etc. He was so so mad when he got back, but as he was the king of pranking people when out of office it was pay back.

    The other was at another company, the boss had saran wrapped this guys chair and desk while he was on vacation so that was one part of it. It was a shared office (3+ of us in one room cramped) and he was very very meticulous about organization of his desk and papers. So naturally that’s the other part we had to mess with. We printed out a bunch of memes and various pictures of My Little Pony (the G rated stuff, not anything remotely sexual or gross) and we just filed them in his papers. For months after he was finding them. It was a thing of beauty. And he got very creative with swear words.

    1. Classic Rando*

      I *love* slow burn pranks. This reminded me of a story that a friend told me from his high school job delivering pizzas. They took an onion from the kitchen and put it in the glove box of one of the other delivery guy’s cars, figuring he’d find it in a few days. Fast forward several months (through the summer) and this delivery guy gets pulled over. The cop asks for his records, and he opens his glove box to find a rotten, slow cooked onion that had somehow gone undetected until that moment.

      1. MsMaryMary*

        Oh no. At OldJob, we used to switch who sat where frequently – at least once a year. One time, a coworker knew the guy who was going to be sitting at his desk after the move, and left a sub sandwich in a drawer as a joke. Unfortunately, there was a last minute change of plans and no one ended up sitting there. By the time someone discovered the sandwich it was unpleasant.

  40. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Friends & I worked our way through college in libraries.
    One year one of the guys got his hands on the magnetic strips they use to protect books from theft. He had someone distract his roommate who was studying at the library….sliced a tiny line in his roommate’s banana peel … and inserted the already activated magnetic strip.
    Apparently they let the door guard in on it so there was no chance of roomie getting in real trouble with campus security. And apparently the look on his face as his banana set off the metal detector was priceless.
    Alas it was before digital photography.

  41. Jamie*

    The guy in HR had a creepy ID pic with glowing red eyes and inadvertently sinister smile. Didn’t show in printed version, but hilarious in jpg form.

    As a birthday gift to a co-worker with a sense of humor and no tech skills he made it the guys wallpaper.

    Poor guy found it funny but had to come to me to beg to remove it because he couldn’t look at it anymore.

  42. Edianter*

    My mom told me this one over the weekend and I loved it: She works in a high school, and before the holidays, her department decided to do a White Elephant exchange, with the rule being that your “gift” had to be something you’d found from somewhere in the school building. One of the people gave a box FULL of old Nora Jones paperbacks that the school library was getting rid of.

    Now, ALL the time (not just for April Fools) these books turn up in random places. Pull out your desk chair? There’s a Nora Jones book on it. Open the filing cabinet? There’s a Nora Jones book filed in with student records. Grabbing your lunch from the mini-fridge? There’s a Nora Jones book under your sandwich.

    It’s super funny, and the best kind of prank because it’s not inherently mean-spirited at all, and no one (and everyone) is the victim (and the perpetrator)!

    1. Amber Rose*

      We had this low-key with a Bratz doll a coworker confiscated from her kid for being inappropriate. For a while, it was prone to showing up in plants, on shelves, etc. Someone eventually attached it to a trophy base and I think it’s on display in the back somewhere.

    2. ContentWrangler*

      My mom and I have this kind of prank war with a creepy doll from her childhood. It’s a platypus babydoll (think demon child with a duckbill mouth). Once, I was housesitting for my parents and they got a box of pillows delivered. I opened the box from the bottom, placed the doll between the new pillows, and resealed the box. So, when she opened up the box, there was the doll looking up at her.

    3. Urdnot Bakara*

      This reminded me that the last time I was in our local used electronics store, they had like 20 copies of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I kinda want to buy them all and do something similar….

    4. MsMaryMary*

      Our company owner is very into decorating for the holidays. All (Christian) holidays. There was a three foot high Easter Bunny that had been displayed in our reception area for years each spring. It was very creepy, had weird eyes and buck teeth, and its fur was very odd, almost like cowhide. The receptionist hated it. Eventually it was decided that Bunny would be retired. He’d become worse for wear over the years. But for a week that last spring, Bunny appeared in various cubicles, in closets, in the supply room, and I think briefly in the mens room.

  43. Anon April Fools*

    Last year, I put googly eyes on every inanimate object in my boss’s office. I stuck them to the back of my hand first to make sure the adhesive was weak enough that they could be unstuck. He got enough of a kick out of them that there are multiple pairs still on the shredder, his monitor, etc.! No harm done, just good silliness.

    This year, I rigged a balloon drop to his office door. Unfortunately, it failed at the pulley, so the laugh was at my expense! But he got a good laugh out of it, which was the point, and it was funny to hear people wish him “Happy Birthday” (genuinely) all day long.

    Both pranks were easy to clean up, didn’t scare / upset / humiliate, and achieved their primary purpose of adding a little silliness into an otherwise bland workday.

  44. AnotherAlison*

    I’m not really one for pranks. I get more second-hand embarrassment for people than the person who should be embarrassed. But, kudos to companies who prank their customers. A friend of mine posted on FB yesterday about a flavored screen savor for babies who chew on their parents’ phones. She received a marketing email about this product, and then put a long rant on FB about how dumb that was. Another mutual friend replied, “Are you sure that’s not 4/1 prank?” and she responded indignantly, “Not unless the company is now sending prank marketing emails.” I’m just sitting back watching. Dude, you got pranked. Recognize it.

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      > “Not unless the company is now sending prank marketing emails.”

      IKEA sent one in 2017 advertising “Bigland” for adults, as a counterpart to Smalland where kids get babysat while parents shop – you could supposedly drink craft beer, get a massage, etc., while you waited for someone to finish shopping.

      I was quite sad when I finished reading the e-mail and remembered the date. :( I would have gone.

    2. Arjay*

      Not office pranks, but our local sheriff’s department posted on social media and had two press conferences about how they are adding a shark named Chomp to their marine unit. It is hilarious.

    3. Rainy*

      The AKC did one yesterday on FB that was amazing.

      There’s a new breed in the terrier group! (Go look for it, it’s AMAZING.)

    4. Lychee*

      In my country these kinds of pranks from companies are very big on April 1st. Some examples are a chocolate milk company that introduced their new chocolate milk bath bomb, or a cinema that said they were putting out popcorn scented air fresheners. There was also a big shampoo company that has a lot of special shampoos (for curly/grey/frizzy/etc hair) which advertised chest hair shampoo.
      I really like these kinds of pranks from companies, and in past years there have even been some ideas that were so popular they were actually created because people were so enthusiastic.

      1. Kelsi*

        That’s how a lot of products on ThinkGeek end up existing…when they started doing April Fools joke products, so many people asked for them that they now do a voting thing where you can vote for the ones you want to be real.

      2. Kelsi*

        Well, okay, just checked and apparently they don’t do the voting thing anymore. They certainly used to though!

    5. JustaTech*

      I love the “prank” emails from companies for April Fools because they’re always in good spirits. The one from REI (outdoors store) about outdoors trips for your pets is a great example. “White water kayaking for beta fish” “bike tour of New Zealand for mini donkeys”.
      Silly and fun and not mocking anyone.

  45. Washi*

    I pulled a prank at work once! I get in earlier than everyone else, so I sculpted some fake poop at home out of peanut butter and oatmeal and then put it on the floor in the corner of the office. When everyone noticed and started freaking out, I went over and picked it up with my bare hands. I was actually planning to eat it, but one of my coworkers started shrieking so much the minute I touched it that I was afraid she couldn’t take it if I went and popped it in my mouth.

    I feel pretty good about that one.

    1. Shark Whisperer*

      I’ve heard a story about this going terribly wrong. A friend of a friend’s brother (so this story is probably apocryphal) was a special forces instructor. He would have another instructor hide fake poop (really some sort of chocolate concoction) in the woods when they were doing training out there. He would then give the trainees a speech about having to be willing to do anything and then he would “see some bear poop” and pick it up and eat it. Except one day, it apparently wasn’t communicated well where the chocolate was and the instructor mistakenly picked up real bear poop. Supposedly he felt like he had no choice but to go through with it since he already gave his speech, so he actually took a bite out of the real poop.

  46. alh*

    This was in a university class, not the workplace, but it’s still my favourite. We had a prof who always, always drank a can of off-brand cola, purchased from the vending machine down the hall, in class. Every class. So the last class we all brought a can of the soda (I think someone bought a case at the grocery store, maybe?) and then we put an “out of order” sign on the vending machine. He came to class empty handed, and we almost blew it then and there by laughing. But we didn’t, and a few minutes into class at a pre-arranged signal, every single member of the class took out their can of cola and cracked it open and set it on the table in front of them. He just stared open-mouthed for several minutes, then he started to laugh, and laughed so hard he had to sit down and take several minutes to compose himself. Although he continued to laugh every time he looked up and saw the cans for the rest of class. It was brilliant.

    1. Alli525*

      This is maybe my favorite prank that I’ve seen yet! Reminds me of a time from my childhood, I think around age 12, when I had to “teach” my Sunday School class (it was part of the “curriculum,” we all took turns doing it) and the class clown had coordinated with the rest of the group to all uncross and cross their legs at the same time, or all drop books at the same time, that kind of thing. I remember being annoyed in the moment, because I was so nervous to be presenting, but now I think it’s hilarious.

    2. JKP*

      This is awesome. I hope they took pity on him and gave him a spare can at the end of class.

  47. Elemeno P.*

    My coworkers and I play little pranks on each other all the time. Our favorites are Photoshopping pictures of each other and hiding them in our boss’ office. He is very serious but likes our team dynamic, so he keeps them up. This leads to him having important meetings and people asking about the pictures of our team as giraffes on the wall, and him just quietly shaking his head at the team he’s stuck with.

  48. Former Librarian*

    We got the Brown E’s yesterday, and no real ones, either. :( No one confessed so we didn’t know who the culprit was, and we got chocolate chip cookies and Timbits today so all is well.

    And someone mixed up everyone’s name plates. About 40 people in our department and a bit of good-natured chaos while we were all returning the wrong one and trying to find the right ones.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      In high school the departing senior class got the custodial team on board and they opened every locker (small school) and moved the contents all around and then put the locks on different lockers.
      I don’t think anyone made it to first period that day and a bunch of people were still trying to find some of their stuff in the afternoon because of kids who were out that day and weren’t around to unlock the 4 or 5 locks. The seniors were of course gone for the week but the chaos was well documented.

  49. Strawmeatloaf*

    Yesterday at my internship someone brought in cake. Or should I say “cake”.

    The icing was made of mayonnaise. Quite a few people fell for it, but if there’s a life lesson to be learned from it, don’t trust a cake if you can smell vinegar near it.

      1. ggg*

        My 5th grader brought a mayonnaise jar full of vanilla pudding to school yesterday, and ate it by large spoonfuls in front of her friends. Apparently it was quite successful in grossing them out.

        1. Amber Rose*

          Ah, that reminds me of the good ol’ days of filling Windex bottles full of Pepsi Blue and freaking people out by drinking it. xD

        2. KTB*

          At OldJob, my friend’s kid did that one! She got several of my coworkers, including one of the owners of the company. It was awesome.

      2. Strawmeatloaf*

        I don’t agree with food ones either, but I believe if there were allergies, others would be informed/the person with the allergy most likely wouldn’t eat random food that had been left out without asking. Of course, that’s not going to work 100% of the time, but I believe the prankster thought it was safe.

        I did think about putting a piece of paper on/next to it that said something like “it’s a lie” but couldn’t find paper to use.

    1. Alex the Alchemist*

      Something similar happened to my partner. They were working at a campus ministry that always had donuts for the Sunday services. The next day, all donuts were free for everyone on staff. A supposed “Boston creme” donut was left out, and my partner took a bite of it. They can’t eat mayo anymore.

      The worst part was, the prankster had completely intended that donut for their boss (who would’ve found it hilarious) to find!

  50. Utoh!*

    This was a prank that wasn’t. I had two coworkers who would always make jokes at each others’ expense. In this situation, they were working together (one at the computer, the other standing behind him looking over his shoulder). All of a sudden, a loud noise was heard and the coworker sitting at the computer yelled at the one behind him thinking he had just done something as a prank. It turns out, the other coworker actually fainted and hit the (metal) bookcase causing the loud noise. Of course this sent a panic through computer coworker who tried to dial 911, but was not able to figure out he had to first dial a 9, and then 911. The fainting coworker was okay, but I will never forget that entire scene as I was in the cubicle right across from where it happened.

  51. Caffeinated in New Jersey*

    My office has a small tradition of playing low-key pranks whenever someone is out on vacation so that they come back to a surprise on their desk; for example, putting stick-on googly eyes on all the objects on someone’s desk so that the stapler has a face now. I was out last week and came back to find my face from the staff photo PhotoShopped onto the Starbucks logo, then the logo taped to the mugs on my desk–I’ve got one for tea, one for coffee, and a bunch of company mugs sitting around to be distributed to guests, so it was more than a few! (I’m a big coffee person, including Starbucks in particular, and had been on vacation in Seattle.)

    I like that the pranks are all very, very easy to clean up and good-spirited, and we keep the remnants around as décor–all of the eyes are still up, and the faux-inspirational posters from InspiroBot that I used to cover a coworker’s desktop are now hanging above her monitor.

  52. Cake Wad*

    BEST: My coworker and I had lots of decorations on and around our desks. Before we got in to work that morning, someone carefully, meticulously swapped all of our things to the other’s desk. Her desk was completely set up like it was mine and vice versa. Super cute, and quick to clean up and get our lives back to normal.

    WORST: Our IT guy redirected our website — only on our internal network that staff use, not to the public — to our biggest competitor. Making us all think that our company had been bought (which would have meant we were all out of our jobs).

    1. Kathenus*

      From the outside looking in, your WORST seems pretty funny. Reminds me of a similar one years back, our IT guys had photoshopped the logo of one of the biggest businesses in our industry on our product, making it look like they had taken us over. We thought it was hilarious, I still have the photo. I guess if your company has an actual concern about something like this happening I can see it causing stress, but otherwise it seems pretty amusing as an April Fool’s day prank.

  53. MM55*

    When a new co-worker, fresh out of college went on her first work trip, I “reminded” her that all the bottles in the mini-fridge were free to take home. She had them all loaded in her suitcase, and thought it was not quite right. Made for a good story afterwards.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      Okay, that’s just evil. Your coworker could have gotten in trouble when your workplace got the bill.

  54. Lindsay*

    I work in higher ed, and JUST YESTERDAY I had a coworker send me an extremely convincing prank news item about a topic relevant to my work that my Dean is deeply interested in. Knowing that the Dean was taking an important meeting the news was relevant to with senior University leadership, including the Provost, later that day, I immediately forwarded it to my Dean (crediting my coworker) who in turn forwarded it to a national organization also interested in the news. Thankfully, before the Dean met with the Provost, my coworker let me know it was an April Fool’s joke. I’m deeply grateful we avoided negative consequences in what was an important meeting scheduled on an unfortunate date, but I am also deeply traumatized by how close we came to embarrassing our organization with key leaders.

    In his effort to prank me, my coworker inadvertently pranked my Dean, a prestigious national membership organization, and almost pranked senior leadership at the University. It was a TERRIFYING experience ate the greater part of my working day and threatened my professional reputation!

    I am officially an April Fool’s hater now, ps.

  55. Anon Accountant*

    Our admin staff used to wash the coffee cups left in the sink. These were meant for clients but staff would use them and put them in the sink to be washed by someone else.

    A sign was posted announcing “dish duty” and names were assigned. Tantrums began. “I’ve never washed my cup and aren’t washing anyone else’s!” “I’ll throw the cups out before I’ll wash them!”

    They waited until the end of the day to reveal it was a prank.

    1. Gumby*

      The “I’ve never washed my cup” people… just – what? No. I would absolutely make that chore list real in the face of such tantrums (given the authority obviously). Talk about entitled and rude.

      Your admin staff deserve raises. And better co-workers. But raises at the very least for having to deal with said co-workers. Yikes.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        It’s my old job thankfully for sooooo many reasons. Several people there were so entitled, rude and obnoxious.

        Definitely the admins needed huge raises plus more for putting up with entitled coworkers.

  56. Pilcrow*

    Way back when, I wrote proposals for former job’s software projects.

    One day I copied all the proposal text into the Dialectizer (rinkworks(.)com/dialect), Swedish Chef version, and emailed it to the sales manager, saying here is what I sent to clients.

    Ell zee prupusel text luuked sumetheeng leeke-a thees. Um gesh dee bork, bork! (All the proposal text looked something like this.)

    I followed up with a “Psyche!” email shortly thereafter, so only minor heart palpitations.

  57. Amber Rose*

    Yesterday during the meeting it was announced that our GM was having so much fun that he’d decided to extend his vacation another two weeks (a lie). I think it gave some people a bit of a jolt given how busy we are and that there was no warning, but I wouldn’t say it was particularly mean.

    That same person once went on a fishing trip and while he was gone, we plastered his whole office in paper cutouts of fish. Hung them from the ceiling, taped to the windows and made a little gone fishing sign. He liked it so much he basically left it, just took down the hanging ones.

    Haven’t seen any mean pranks while I’ve been working, thankfully. And while some people are very vocal about hating all things prank and April 1, I enjoyed very much some of the ones that popped up online yesterday.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      After ThinkGeek yesterday, my Avengers-crazy middle-schooler and I are seriously thinking about DIYing our mailbox to look like Mjolnir.

  58. bubba g*

    When I finished my student teaching 3 decades ago, on the last day of school, my mentor teacher and my students put my desk in a kiddie pool filled with water and goldfish. I loved the ingenuity, and no goldfish were harmed and all found homes.

  59. Calico*

    A coworker who was a friend at the time boxed up my cubicle while I was on vacation and taped over my name so I thought I was fired. She kept telling me to wait for my boss to come in but my boss was late so she finally told me it was a joke.

    1. ContentWrangler*

      Oh no, that’s not funny. I mean maybe, if she told you right after you saw it, but cryptically making you wait around…no way.

      1. Calico*

        Yeah I was almost in tears. And I didn’t want to make a scene so I just tried to laugh it off.

  60. irene adler*

    The lab was short on chairs. We informed that we could not order any more chairs for the lab.

    It was suggested by the CFO that we ‘share chairs’- let someone else use your chair when you are not in the lab. Never mind that the chairs were individually adjusted for height and what not.

    What were supposed to do when everyone was in the lab at once? That wasn’t made clear. All I know is that I had to work in the lab whilst resting on my knees. Not fun.

    At some point awhile back, I had noticed that the very tall CFO lady had the exact same executive chair (make and model) as the diminutive vice-president. No doubt they were adjusted to accommodate their respective sizes.

    So a few days after the ‘chair share’ announcement, I went to the front offices (where the C-suite folks work) while they were all out at lunch. Switched the V-P and CFO’s chairs.

    Should have heard the CFO screaming “Who touched my chair? Who changed it? “ as she kept getting up to re-adjust it-all afternoon long.
    Meanwhile, the V-P was completely oblivious as to why his feet no longer touched the ground as he sat at his desk.

    “chair-share” – I don’t think so.

  61. W.C. Green*

    It was crunch time for a major software project and the company canceled all vacations so we could make deadline. One of the team was from India and had a six-week leave planned–travel to her home city plus travel to various family members around the country–all of which had to be abandoned. The day she was to have left, she and I were at lunch, where I suggested we use this situation to prank the Project Manager.

    I returned from lunch alone and took my seat in the project room, where I sat looking as upset and fearful as I could. When the PM asked what was wrong, I told him that Team Member was so angry about the vacation ruling that she had gone to the airport and caught the noon flight to Mumbai.

    Everyone gaped at me in shock. The PM went pale and struggled to speak coherently. The upshot of his words were, “I don’t know what to do. We can’t hit deadline without her–good for her, I understand how she feels, but we’re really screwed.”

    Just as he was reaching for the phone to tell our boss the bad news, Team Member walked in, took her seat, and resumed her work. (She’d been in the hall listening.) The PM’s relief was a joy to behold. Best part was she got the blame for pranking him, not me.

  62. Guacamole Bob*

    I have a Rubik’s cube sitting on my bookshelf that has our logo on each of the nine squares on one side. My coworker knows how to solve the cubes and figured out how to turn the middle square by 90 degrees. He did a quarter-turn a day and waited to see how long it took me to notice – I felt pretty good that I caught on by day 2.

    It was a perfect office prank, in my view – it’s not funny enough to make anyone die laughing, but it’s very low risk and it provided a bit of lightheartedness within our team.

  63. Superdi*

    I once added a shortcut to my boss’s Word program so that when he typed “and” it would auto-correct to “and, like,” so every doc he worked on that morning made him sound like a CA Valley Girl until he finally called me in to fix it.

    There is a current ongoing prank in my department. We work in different locations and one of my coworkers was complaining that one of his offices was too bare and needed artwork. The rest of the department took a selfie and I had it made into a 16×20 print that we hung in that office. Now, when anyone is on vacation, they usually come back to find that print in their office.

  64. Friday Night*

    So, not the best or worst prank, but in my mind a good one.

    I came back from a meeting yesterday and had a hard time getting going, because I basically kept losing my cursor. I have three identical monitors on my work station hooked up to my computer, and I’ve really gotten used to it. The cursor is set up to traverse from one screen to the next naturally. Well, someone physically moved the monitors around so say, when I tried to move from the far right to the middle screen it jumped to the far left screen.

    It didn’t take long to sort out and no damage was, but for a few minutes I was really confused – and the momentary absurdity of trying to figure out what the heck was going on was great.

    1. MoopySwarpet*

      Reminds me of an unintentional prank with a mac “magic mouse.” I did something on my boss’s mac and left. He called about 20 minutes later because his mouse wasn’t working right. It was going the wrong direction. I went into the settings, nothing, googled “mouse moves opposite,” nothing. It took me at least 5 minutes to realize the mouse was physically rotated 180 degrees. Doh. It still happens once in a while, but now we all know how to fix it. ;)

    2. Lucille2*

      I have a PC laptop with docking station at work. When IT upgraded me to Windows 10, this happened every time I came back from a meeting and docked my laptop.

  65. Anon for this*

    I work at a university. Before I worked in my current office, my now-co-workers decided to glitter bomb the boss by putting a bucket full of glitter on top of his office door.

    Then the boss came into the office. With the German Ambassador. And was about to let the Ambassador walk into his office first.

    Co-workers had to quickly suggest to the boss that he might want to offer the Ambassador some coffee RIGHT NOW.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Glitter is an invasive species…once it gets out into the wild it’s there forever.

          1. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

            I work at a company which sells a lot of veeeery glittery products and I have by now resigned myself to finding glitter on my clothes/person/belongings and in my home until I am around 80, probably. Glitter is truly The Thing That Would Not Leave.

            1. Qosanchia*

              Once upon a time, back in college, I created a frame over my bed by lashing some old pvc pipes together (for hanging things like glasses, reading lights, etc). One of these, for some unknown reason, had glittery tape on it, so I would occasionally wake up a bit more faerie than I’d gone to bed. I moved to an apartment, and never rebuilt the frame. I eventually got rid of all of the bedding involved, as these things cycle out over time.
              More than 5 moves and 6 years later, including a move across the country, and completely new pillows, sheets, bed, and pillowcases, and my girlfriend was convinced I must be sneaking out in the night to meet my faerie lover, since I would still wake up sometimes with a few flakes on my face.

  66. Everdene*

    We currently have a giant teddy bear in our office in preperation for a fundraiser. We have all had fun moving and positioning this person sized bear around the room. The youngest member of the team got me good one morning when I pulled out my chair from under my desk and the bear popped out like a Jack in the Box! Before I left that night I areanged the bear like a lounge singer on a piano across his desk.

    1. Alex the Alchemist*

      At my old office, we had a cardboard cutout of our president that we had used for a marketing campaign once. After the campaign was over, we had fun hiding the cutout in offices, closets, the break room, and even once in the closet of our president’s office!

  67. MENA region*

    Our intern who is responsible for updating our gigantic wall calendar wrote “Jane’s birthday” on “March 32nd”. Someone fell for it and brought Jane gifts. Her real birthday is about two months later so the gift-giver was good-natured about it and said to consider it an early birthday present.

  68. Volunteer Enforcer*

    Kind of both? Our Business Manager at the time hid in a large cardboard box, jumped out and scared the life out of the CEO. We all still laugh about it to this day, the CEO included.

  69. Managercanuck*

    We built a mini-putt course in one of the senior officer’s offices. Got sod and placed it all over (on top of garbage bags), built a water trap and a sandtrap. Set up a pro-board and everything. And we got her a toy set of golf clubs from the dollar store so she could play. She loved it, but then we had to clean it up, which sucked. She did keep her clubs in the office, though.

  70. Seeking Second Childhood*

    This one’s for Roisin54 — a few days ago on the Friday work thread, you said you’d received something from the director about starting a “librarians on horseback” even though you’re in a very urban location with the library in the middle of renovations…
    Did that wind up a prank that went out too soon? Or are they really doing that to you?

  71. SheLooksFamiliar*

    A lady I worked with said she didn’t like her Windows 98 sound selections. One of my team liked 2001: A Space Odyssey, and helped me hatch a plan. We waited till she left for the day, and he recorded error messages in his best HAL voice. We reset her sounds so, at system start up, she heard: ‘Good morning, Trudy.’ An error or stop: ‘I’m afraid I can’t do that, Trudy,’ or ‘What do you think you’re doing, Trudy?’ or ‘I want to help you, Trudy.’ When she got email: ‘Daisy, daisy, give me your answer, do…’ And of course, when she shut down for the day: ‘I’m afraid, Trudy. Trudy, my mind is going…I can feel it…’

    Trudy didn’t think it was as funny as we did. We showed her how to change her sounds and all was well.

    1. PSB*

      Around the Windows 98 era, I changed all of the event sounds on one of my coworkers’ PCs to the AOL “you’ve got mail” sound.

      ALL of them. Even the ones that don’t usually have a sound.

  72. Artemesia*

    I taught school with a guy who was a world traveler. When he returned from Russia (this was in the 60s) one of the elementary schools in the district asked him to speak to a class. Unfortunately the kids misbehaved. Their teacher made them write notes of apology and they were delivered to our department office in a manila envelope when he was in class. The rest of us read them and then decided to prank him. We carefully composed 4 outrageous notes on lined paper in childish print about what they were doing when he was talking. We interleaved them with the real notes. It was hilarious watching his reaction, but then he shared them and it looked like they might get published in a local paper, so we had to stop the train before it went over the cliff.

  73. DenveriteDownUnder*

    One of the members of the admin team took a well-deserved vacation and was sorely missed the 3 weeks she was away. It was around Halloween and so her office mates bought fake spiderwebs and decorated her desk and chair with them. When she came back they said she was gone so long cobwebs had grown all over her workspace. It was pretty cute!

  74. Zona the Great*

    The only “prank” I played went over well but only because of the circumstances. I was the dishwasher in a very busy kitchen and had a particularly tough day where all the servers knew not to even look my direction. This was forgiven in such a dirty busy position so know one would hold it against me.

    One server bounced around the kitchen for a full five minutes announcing there was an extra Caprese salad that was made and who wants it?! If no one wants it I’m going to eat it! Anyone? No one? Okay I’m eating it!

    FOR FIVE FULL MINUTES!

    So as soon as she took the first bite, I came out of the dish pit and shouted quite loudly and intensely, “where is my caprese? Who the FUG ate my caprese?!” and watched while everyone in the kitchen went white and tried not to participate. The server’s face was classic as she struggled not to wrap her lips around that first bite. Chef continued chopping vegetables completely unwilling to even look over. Classic kitchen fun that helped relieve the tension.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Someone I know bought a crummy old vinyl chair at a tag sale because it sounded like a whoopie cushion if you sat in it. Sister’s introducing us to her new fiance? Give him the Whoopie chair!

  75. Jennifer*

    I love pranks. My old work bestie used to flip the display on my monitor when I made the mistake of leaving it unlocked. I used to steal the action figures from his desk and hide them all over the office.

    Pranks can be a lot of fun as long as the target finds them funny. You have to know their sense of humor. Even if I don’t think it’s funny, if it’s not mean-spirited I can laugh them off.

  76. Fibchopkin*

    The year I rickrolled my entire office-
    Our org is growing, and has since about doubled in size, but back when I pulled this prank, we had about 40 folks on staff. We are a membership organization, and have 2, large annual events every year, one that typically garners around 2500 attendees and occurs at the beginning of the year, and one that typically garners around 1000 and occurs in the summer. Immediately after the first, bigger events wraps up, a lot of manpower at the org shifts focus to ramping up for the second event. Back then, I was the staff lead on the smaller, second event, and we just happened to wrap up our larger annual event in the last week of March that year. So on the First of April, I sent out what appeared to be the typical “All hands on deck- here are the first round of staff assignments for X Event” email, with a link to the relevant documents for each person’s assignment. Every single one of the links was actually a disguised link to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0
    It was glorious. Even my CEO and COO clicked on their links, apparently mild intrigued by what I could have possibly ‘assigned’ them.
    Everyone chuckled, noone was hurt, and no more than 5 minutes of anyone’s time was wasted. Mission accomplished.

  77. Emmie*

    My old coworkers would leave their computers unlocked when they’d leave their desk. When my boss saw this, he’d send an email from their Outlook saying “I love puppies” to other coworkers. It was a funny way to reinforce the importance of locking computers when you have access to sensitive information. It rarely happened because computers auto locked after five minutes of inactivity, but it was a good ribbing nonetheless.

    1. Mimi Me*

      A few years ago a friend of mine was on vacation and left her computer open. One of her siblings updated her FB status to “I love corn”. Over the years they’ve all managed to forget to lock their computers and another post about the wonders of corn appears. Last year my friend went to a farm and bought some fresh off the stalk corn. She posted something to FB about how good it tasted and there were no less than 12 people asking “Have you been hacked again?? LOL!” before she had to explain that no, this time it really was her and it really was a post about corn.

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      Someone who was leaving once went round the desks of anyone who had Facebook open on their phone or laptop and changed all their statuses to things like “I’m going to miss Wakeen loads, he’s hot!”

  78. DiscoTechie*

    Coworker put another coworker’s direct phone number on a Craigslist ad for a free used accordion. A surprising number of people will take a free accordion. The target did not find it funny after about 20 phone calls in an hour.

    1. socrescentfresh*

      This is my favorite one. Points for absurdity and lack of cleanup. (Except for deleting the post, I guess.)

  79. Ella Vader*

    A friend’s office pulled a good prank on their boss. Think Geek sold some kind of contraption that made weird noises and talked at random intervals. They hid it in the boss’s office, and he started talking to it. She said, after a while, he was muttering “Am I going crazy? I think I’m going crazy.” They kept it up all day, and the managed to remove the device without him ever knowing who planted the thing.

  80. Deeshyone*

    I was the office prankster and before I was outed, I performed the following:

    – Halloween’s Eve, I changed everybody’s name plates to something that was scary/campy/pop culture related to Halloween (this is the prank that eventually outed me cause I forgot to change my own – duh)
    – messed with a coworkers desktop by plugging in a wireless mouse and “taking control”
    – rearranged the letters on a coworkers keyboard. He was a “hunt and pecker” and had about 15 minutes of typing gibberish before he said out loud “I don’t remember the “E” being here…”

    There’s more but these were by far my favourite! :)

    1. Bilateralrope*

      If you’re wanting to keep your part in the “prank” hidden, then it’s a sign that the prank is a bad idea.

      The Halloween prank is the only one I’d find funny.

  81. animaniactoo*

    My office needs some good pranks. We’re pretty boring here lately.

    At home is another story (link posted below to one of the more spectacular back and forths that I submitted to another site).

    In the office, back when I was interim IT, I would regularly change the desktop background on the studio manager’s computer. She didn’t know how to change it back so she generally just put up with it until I found a new one “Brick wall installed to bang your head against”.

    The really evil one was one my dad had the program for. It was a variation on a screen saver in the days when Norton Anti-Virus was commonly used everywhere. When you walked away, a screen would appear that looked like the NAV alert screen and said something like:

    “Errors found in build tree, reformat hard drive now?”

    and the only option was an “okay” button. No cancel button.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I wife-taxed a hot dog once, only to discover that he’d laced it with sriracha ketchup. I am not one for spicy food, at ALL, like bbq potato chips are too much for me. Sigh. :)

  82. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    Not April 1, but this is my all-time favorite.

    At an OldJob back in the 90s, the company hired two people around the same time who’d known each other before and were close friends. They were a pretty unlikely pair, “Kramer” was a guy in his 40s and “Elaine” a woman in her early 20s.

    One day, Elaine complained to several of us about having seen mice in the office. We’d just moved into a brand new building, and the company owner insisted on everyone keeping it spotless, so we were mildly surprised that there were mice. We all went home at the end of the day and forgot about it.

    The next morning, I came in to work to find my desk and keyboard covered in mouse droppings. I went over to Elaine’s desk to tell her that she’d been right about the mice. Kramer was there chatting with her when I delivered the news. He was skeptical, “mice? are you sure? Let me see” and walked back to my desk with me. He looked at the droppings and the desk, “hmm looks like mice, but let me check” and with a businesslike look on his face, he picked up one of the droppings, sniffed it, put it in his mouth, chewed on it thoughtfully… swallowed. “Yeah you’re right, these *are* mouse droppings” then he saw the look on my face and started cracking up. He and Elaine had planned it all a few days in advance. The morning after she’d spread the word around the office about the mice, Kramer had come in early and put chocolate sprinkles on people’s desks. Then went over to her desk, sat down, and they both waited for the first sucker to show up – I was the first sucker. I wasn’t really close with either of them, but I thought this prank was pretty genius!

  83. T*

    When I was a teenager I worked with my sister and we did not exactly get along. After she really irritated me one day I snuck onto her work computer and made a print screen of her desk top, which I then saved as the desktop background. I moved all her icons to the recycling bin (I think it was Windows XP), so she would see the icons but they wouldn’t work. She completely flipped out when her computer wouldn’t work, and retaliated when she saw my feet in the bathroom stall the next day. She yanked my feet and I ended up falling off the toilet and ripping the whole seat off.

  84. Free Meerkats*

    I filled my (now retired) boss’s office with black balloons to celebrate his 50th birthday. I don’t remember how many it was, but I bought out the party supply’s stock of them and barely had enough. It also took me almost 4 hours using a compressor. Right now thinking back, I’m wondering whether the joke was on him or me.

    When I left my job at a previous employer, I came out to find the maintenance staff had put my car’s rear axle on blocks just high enough that the tires were off the ground. Not high enough to casually notice.

    At that same job, it was a regular thing to find one’s locker filled with (new) plastic ball growth media. Like this, https://www.practicalgardenponds.com/files/2039883/uploaded/1.5BIOBALLS.JPG You’d open your locker and be knee deep in them.

    1. MoopySwarpet*

      In high school, a friend and I jacked up a teacher’s car like that. It was in retaliation for telling the gullible straight-A friend that they were going to be benched for the upcoming game and have to attend the mandatory study hall because they were on the low grade list.

  85. Hello!*

    I used to work for Congress and we would always have funny get well soon cards, birthday, anniversary, etc. that would tease legislators (i.e. when my boss had his appendix out, we printed out a picture of a legislator who is very opposed to pre-existing conditions coverage and said “Hey there big boy, don’t worry about your pre-existing condition, I’ve got you covered”). My coworker used to love to bring in flowers and my other coworker taped a rose to the ceiling and she had petals slowly dropping on her desk for a month. Someone had one of those electronic picture frames where you can add photos and the whole office added pictures of pets, random memes, etc. amongst pictures of her family… I could go on forever.

  86. Auntie Social*

    My boss’s birthday was also April 1, and one year he was pretty grumbly about turning 40. I knew where he was going at lunch–deli, cleaners, etc.–so I called each place and said “it’s his birthday, let’s give him the business”. One place said he didn’t look a day over 50, the next place said 55, the cleaners said 60, and so on. He was pretty frosted when he came back—and waiting for him was a cake that said “Happy 70th”. We finally got a smile out of him!

  87. Mel*

    My long time employer loved light hearted pranks. Once, while he was away on business, we set up a “new boss” at his desk, made of office supplies . And we rubberbanded his door shut, thinking he would have to curb through a window. The rubberband snapped really easily, so it didn’t come to that.

  88. jem*

    For weeks before April Fool’s Day, a colleague was looking more and more noticeably pregnant. We were a polite workplace, so no one asked her any questions, figuring she would announce her news when she was ready. On April Fool’s Day, she sends out a very aggressive-sounding email, accusing everyone of talking behind her back about her recent weight gain, and that she didn’t appreciate it, was feeling very sensitive about it, and what did we all expect when we worked in a place with constant free food?

    We worked in an open office. As more and more people started to see the email, it got quieter and quieter until you could hear a pin drop. I noticed a coworker’s hands flattened on her desk as she looked at her screen, horrified.

    Finally, the bravest among us offered a hesitant, “…April Fool’s…..?”

    Our colleague cracked up and said, “Yeah guys, I’m totally pregnant! You were terrified, though, weren’t you?”

    She got us GOOD.

    The baby was very cute.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        No, it’s not. Imagine some poor coworker who’s male and wasn’t talking about her weight gain thinking he’s about to catch a sexual harassment charge for talking about a female coworkers body?????

        1. fposte*

          Why would he think he personally was up for a sexual harassment charge when it was addressed to everybody and he hadn’t talked about her?

        2. wittyrepartee*

          You mean *was* talking about her body? Because otherwise he’d probably be like “glad that mass email wasn’t directed at me!”.

  89. Namast'ay in Bed*

    At my last job, people were constantly mixing up two of my similar-looking coworkers, so for April fool’s day they dressed the same and switched desks! It was hilarious to see people walk over to one of them and start talking, only to do a double-take partway through!

  90. Dusty Bunny*

    The greatest prankster in our office was most thoroughly pranked by a newbie. Newbie drew Prankster’s name for the annual Secret Santa, and opted to give a small gift every day for a week. Each day’s gift was a scratch off lottery ticket. Day 5 brought the prank lottery ticket, which looked genuine. Newbie’s work team, which included the Prankster’s boss and me, were in a meeting in the glass walled conference room when Prankster arrived and opened his final gift. We surreptitiously watched as Prankster got very excited and began running around the office with a half-disbelieving look on his face, trying to find his Secret Santa.

    After about 5 minutes of this, Prankster’s boss opened the conference room door and called him over, and asked what was up. Prankster replied by telling Newbie, “You’re my Secret Santa? I won $10 earlier this week, but now this ticket says I won $500,000! Is this for real?”

    Newbie replied, “Oh, yeah, that does say $5000,000 is the top prize. Uh, read the back of the ticket. I think that says how to claim your prize.” The back of the ticket directed the “winner” to contact Santa at the North Pole to claim the prize. Prankster said, “Well, at least I still have $10,” and left the room, laughing.

    Prankster’s wife called later to let us know her legendary Prankster husband told the whole family how someone finally got him, and got him good.

    1. Live & Learn*

      A friend did this same prank to me when I was unemployed and desperately broke. She didn’t realize how cruel that was when I didn’t realize immediately that the “winning” ticket was fake!

  91. Cucumberzucchini*

    We one time photoshopped a truck crashing through the front window of the building owned by one of the business partners and emailed it to his terrible manager. It looked really real. We did this at the direction of the other business owner. It was actually pretty funny and nobody got in trouble. The fact that the person we sent it wasn’t a very nice person and had no real power and we were asked to do it by one of the business owners made it a lot less risky.

  92. Legal Rugby*

    When I was in the Army, I was stationed near Baltimore, and worked mostly with Baltimore Ravens fans. My big boss, a Sergeant Major, was a huge Steelers fan, and his main office was lined with steelers memorabilia and photos. We were working medevac one weekend and ended up coming back late at night, but were unable to leave until all the birds had come back – we landed just about the time the ravens beat the steelers for the first time in a number of years (or something, these werent my teams). One of my soldiers went hunt through their gear until they came up with a 250 pack of purple and black balloons left over from a morale day earlier in the year. My soldiers found a step ladder, removed the tile overhead, reached across and pulled up a tile in the SGM’s office, and proceeded to blow up everyone of those 250 ballons while they waited for the rest of our platoon to return. The next morning, I cancelled PT for an early duty call, so that we could all be in the office when he opened the door. Which was nice, because, boy, did we have to run when he figured out what he was staring at.

  93. Minerva McGonagall*

    We have a number of model skeletons in the university library where my office is for our health majors to study but there’s a few that get dressed up based on whatever holiday is closest. If you leave your office unlocked there’s a decent chance you’ll come back to find a skeleton “waiting for an appointment”.

  94. Sabrina*

    I was working offsite for three weeks around Halloween. My coworkers knew I was working in another part of the state but most didn’t know I was coming back on the weekends So between week two and three I went into work on Sunday morning, office was normally empty on the weekend, and covered my own cubical with fake spider webs, you could barely see my desk when I was done. I then left a giant bowl of Halloween candy on my chair.

    Come Monday I was bombarded with phone calls and emails from my coworkers wanting to tell me I got pranked. Trying to figure out who did was a popular topic of conversation and I was sent lists by my friends of who they suspected and who was denying it. I did eventually come clean, every single person laughed and said they should have known.

    That office was a lot of fun!

    1. fposte*

      Ooh, this one is really ingenious–it’s a way to prank when you know exactly how the recipient feels about it.

  95. LadyByTheLake*

    I worked for a company that had lots of ridiculous rules — only ten pushpins, desk must be kept clean at all times, only two pictures (family and pets) in specific frames allowed etc. The co-CEOs were an elderly couple. An entire department convinced a new employee that it was a company rule that everyone must keep a framed picture of the CEOs (think of a picture of your grandparents) on their desks. It took him MONTHS to figure out it wasn’t a rule. That was hilarious.

  96. Used to be a clever prankster*

    Radio station in early ‘00s, a few years after Butterfly Kisses topped the Christian and Country charts. Our all-request Friday evening DJ despised the song and would always look ahead on the playlist delete ahead. We were well past CDs, so I ripped the audio file for Butterfly Kisses into another audio file. As he announced what he thought was going to be Sixpence None the Richer, the laughing children on the intro of BK played underneath his voice and he knew he’d been had. Nearly 20 years ago and he still tells the story.

    1. Zephy*

      Aww, come on. You spend a significant chunk of your life at work – what’s the harm in having a little fun every now and again? There’s plenty of examples of pranks gone awry, but innocent jokes that are, at worst, an inconvenience for 15 minutes…what’s wrong with that?

      1. MonteCristo85*

        You are assuming they are fun. Some people don’t find any pranks fun, and if you can’t have fun without involving other people that’s kind of sad. I’ve been reading through this whole list and I don’t think I’d find any of these “fun.” They wouldn’t all upset me (although many of them would) but I for one don’t like being inconvenienced for someone else’s amusement. Plus you don’t know what someone else is dealing with…even the “innocent” pranks could cause real problems…like the random sounds could really upset someone with misophonia, turning over a chair could be a real issue for someone with back pain, etc.

        1. ScarlettInTheBallroom*

          It’s not really an issue though if you know your audience and have a good rapport/relationship with the people you are pranking. To each their own, but I do like a good bit of lighthearted fun at work now and then.

      2. Beth*

        What’s wrong with it is that, in many environments, there are no “innocent jokes”. And those of us who have been targeted by haters have heard an endless litany of “Just joking!” offered to excuse any and all levels of cruelty.

  97. The Guacamolier*

    OH MAN. I worked at a popular chain restaurant when I was twenty. This was a place FULL of pranksters, mostly the run-of-the-mill “send the new person next door to ask to borrow a squeegee sharpener/fan winder (like…to wind up the ceiling fans/random big, heavy things that you can’t move (like the host stand). Well, things escalated.

    They had a dispenser of those paper cone cups for employees to use to get a quick drink while on their shift. It started out humorously enough, people would sneakily tape a paper cone cup to someone else’s back and see how long it took for them to notice it. Those cups are really light, and sometimes it would take awhile for people to notice it.

    The worst of the pranksters got impatient, waiting for people to realize the prank, and started using the people with cones taped to their backs as mini basketball hoops, balling up receipts and corners of napkins and tossing them in when the person’s back was turned. This was the prank du jour for awhile.

    When they got tired of that, they started pouring water or tea from the pitchers-maybe half a teaspoon at a time-as they passed the people with cones on their backs.

    It all came to a head during dinner one night, when the Senior Executive Prankster and VP of Poor Decision Making LIT the bottom of a cone cup on FIRE, WHILE IT WAS TAPED TO SOMEONE’S BACK.

    I ended up having to whomp the new guy on the back to make sure the flames were properly extinguished. He wasn’t hurt. His white button up shirt was singed. He was pretty mad. And the restaurant removed the cone cups AND the dispenser before the following day’s lunch shift.

  98. Jay_B*

    I once had a boss with whom I had some kind of inside joke about David Hasselhoff – I don’t remember the actual joke anymore. One day I printed out semi-risque pictures of The Hoff and hid those pictures all around his office. For the next few weeks he came across them randomly while reaching for various office supplies or opening binders. He called me when he found the first one and he was laughing so hard I could hardly understand him. Word got around about the prank and different colleagues pranked each other that way for the next few years. For example, at one point a person in the Brooklyn office and a person in the Argentine office did a switch where they spent 6 months in the other office for cross training. They also traded apartments. When the Brooklyn guy left the Argentine’s apartment, he hid risque pictures of David Hasselhof all throughout the apartment. Our Argentine colleague was finding them for months and he would Skype a picture of each newly found picture company-wide. We all got a kick out of that!

  99. DCGirl*

    Years ago, there was a classic from academia in the Chronicle of Higher Education….

    A class waited and waited in a classroom one day for their professor to show up. After 30 minutes, he still hadn’t arrived, so they all finally left.

    At the next class, the professor read them all the riot act, saying that he had had to take an urgent phone call but they should have known he was coming (and waited) because he’d left his hat on the desk in the front of the room.

    At the next class, the professor arrived to find a hat on every student desk but no students.

    Classic.

  100. AnotherAlison*

    Thought of another one. . .This is a school prank, so I hope it’s close enough for work. My husband helped my son figure out how to rig up an old extra car horn to the brake lights in a truck. He did this to his friend while the friend’s truck was parked in the high school parking lot. When he left school at the end of the day, every time he stepped on the brakes the horn would continue to blast. Everyone around him was getting mad. . .you can imagine the 3:00 pm rush leaving a 3,000 person high school. My son let him drive home and then let him in on the joke. He said he had to keep putting the car in park at stop lights instead of holding down the brake. (IIRC, this was retaliation because that kid took another friend’s tailgate off his truck and hid it while he was at his work.)

  101. The Guacamolier*

    Legit funny prank: a helicopter was circling in view of a store where I worked. My boss took his phone outside and pretended he was controlling the helicopter with it, telling people it was this cool new drone that had just been released. Ha ha.

  102. yellowpolkadots*

    We changed out one of my coworker’s office door into a screen door that would slam shut. We added a welcome mat, wreath, an old patio chair, a fly swatter, and an ash tray. It was pretty awesome and everyone got a big kick out of it! He left it on for about a week then we helped him change it back to his regular office door.

    We also raided the framed picture section of a habitat for humanity and put up a big gallery wall on someone’s office. I think in total we spent $20. His wall was covered in Raggedy Ann, dogs playing poker, a dream catcher, someone’s framed needlepoint, and a 3D picture of ducks flying.

  103. Rock Prof*

    When I was in graduate school, some of my friends/colleagues would play some pretty good pranks. Some of them have been covered, like googly eyes on things, covering everything in plastic wrap (including individual paperclips), and filling someone else’s office with balloons.
    But my favorite one was when one of my office mates (we were often between 4-6 to a room) was out of town for fieldwork for a couple weeks, we (and a crew of other grad students) moved all of their stuff out of the office and put a couch and dorm fridge where his stuff had been. He was normally one of the prank-instigators, so he loved it. It does make me wonder how we, as grad students, came up with an extra fridge and couch.

  104. Antilles*

    At a company I interned at back in the mid-2000’s, one of the VP’s had a full-sized 150+ gallon aquarium in his office, located on the side of his office, adjacent to his desk. He took every opportunity to talk about how relaxing it was to have it, how it really brought out the decor of his office, and just how glad he was that that corporate allowed it. The guy was well-liked and genuinely enthusiastic, so it didn’t come off as showy or bragging, but he mentioned it often enough that it was well into the “yeah, we’ve all heard the story…” territory.
    One day, a field technician is in office and showing off his new cell phone. The tech was an outdoorsy type who loved fishing and boating, so he bought a high-end cell phone specifically designed to put up with all sorts of abuse. The VP was in a meeting, so the tech leads us all to the VP’s office, flips on the lights, and casually tosses his cell phone into the aquarium. Amid the shouts of surprise, he calmly picks up the desk phone, dials his cell and we all get to hear it ring, confirming that the water didn’t affect his cell phone at all. (FYI, this was *super* impressive in 2005).
    The tech hangs up the phone and immediately afterwards, the VP walks in and asks us why there are 10 people gathered in his office. We make a quick excuse about the aquarium, then leave, before remembering that we left the phone in the aquarium. Rather than go back in to pick it up, the tech decides to call the phone and see what happens.
    >First call, the cell phone rings and the VP looks at his desk phone, thinking it’s his, but then looking away, assuming it’s just from someone else’s office. Tech hangs up when the call goes to voice mail, waits a few seconds, then calls the cell again so it rings again.
    >Second call, the VP looks up again, then glances out the door up and down the hall, figuring it’s someone who’s away from their desk. Shuts the door, but of course he’s got glass windows, so we can still watch. Hang up, wait a few seconds, call back.
    >Third call, VP gets completely confused that he can still hear it and picks up his desk phone, then unplugs it. Noise doesn’t stop of course, which makes him even more confused. Hang up, wait, call back.
    >Fourth call, VP is completely baffled and walks outside asking if anybody is hearing that ringing noise. Everybody denies any knowledge of course. He’s clearly suspicious that something is going on, but accepts it and goes back to his office. Hang up, wait, call back.
    >Fifth call, VP finally does a whole circuit of his office, stopping when he sees the cell phone in his aquarium. He fishes it out and walks out to howls of laughter.
    Fortunately, he was a great sport about it. As a nice perk, every time he talked about the aquarium after that, he also included the story about how he got pranked, which made his aquarium-based stories much more entertaining.

  105. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    It’s so minor and silly but a common prank a coworker of mine will do is hide post-its all around an absent person’s desk area (like under the keyboard, stuck to the bottom of a chair, in a notebook…) and number them with “1 of 7,” “2 of 7” etc. but then leave one of the series out so the person will “go crazy” looking for the missing one. But my group is a bunch of lazy cynics and we just don’t look for them. Sometimes we’ve found them years after the fact. It’s a prank that keeps on underwhelming.

  106. Alex the Alchemist*

    At an internship a couple years ago, I was tasked with pranking someone from our department who was coming back from a month-long leave (we were a pranky office). I went to Michael’s and got all the stick-on googly eyes I could find and proceeded to put them on EVERYTHING in her office including her computer, photos, desk, and all of her K-cups. Probably my proudest achievement while working there.

  107. It's Business Time*

    I switched the M & O keys around on a keyboard for a co-worker who typed by looking at each letter on the keyboard. He then came back to his desk, started typing and was alarmed that when he pressed M, O appeared. He turned to me and asked to help as he couldn’t understand why his computer was not working. I couldn’t help because I was too busy trying to stifle my laughter. I have also switched the left / right mouse clicks, much to the dismay of another co-worker. I also like to put weird calendar entries into people’s outlook if they leave their computer unlocked, mostly reminding them to buy me a present!

    1. Qosanchia*

      It’s related, but not strictly a prank. I worked with a left-hander who switched her buttons around, and she got endless satisfaction watching remote IT struggle when trying to work on her computer. I always got a little kick out of it when I had to work on it. I can mouse ambidextrously, but it takes a sec (or 9) to remember to switch my click fingers on her computer

  108. Sienna*

    At one OldJob I had, someone was notorious for leaving their security badge on their desk. So as a prank and lesson, two coworkers “kidnapped” his security badge. They had set up a scavenger hunt throughout the facility, enlisting multiple others to help. It started off with a post it note where he had left his security badge. The post it note instructed him to meet with Coworker 3 in the breakroom. Coworker 3 in the breakroom would give him a “side quest” in exchange for the next clue. Once they completed the side quest, Coworker 3 gave them another post it note advising them to meet yet another coworker but in a different breakroom for their next “side quest/challenge”.

    It took them the whole day to complete all the quests and challenges, but they got their security badge AND we all got a good laugh from it.

    But they still continued to leave their security badge on their desk. smh.

    1. CDM*

      I had a co-worker who constantly left his car keys lying around the workplace (a pool) and our boss would pick them up and hide them somewhere. Under the couch cushions in the lobby, on top of the roller holding the lane lines, in the container of kickboards, on one of the towel hooks, inside the sauna.

      Then one day she dropped them in the deep end of the pool. And found out that it was like $250 to replace the electronic fob on his 15 year old Mustang. She paid it, and he kept leaving his keys lying around where anyone could take them.

  109. Paloma Pigeon*

    After the monthly all-company meeting one department returned to find all of their chairs missing. Stupid, but funny and not mean-spirited.

  110. Jen RO*

    IT policy is that we must lock our computers when we leave them, but one coworker always left her unlocked. After we told her, repeatedly, to lock it or else… one day we replaced her wallpaper with a glam photo of a very bad local singer. (While we were looking for an appropriate wallpaper, we accidentally clicked a link to one of his videos, so we also messed up her YouTube suggestions for a few weeks!)

  111. Katty Kat*

    I worked in a restaurant in college and one of the managers made the mistake of leaving his truck in the parking lot when he wasn’t there. We used the industrial sized saran wrap and wrapped his doors shut. We also put all of that days garbage in the bed of his truck instead of the dumpster (all in tight bags, not loose trash). He thought it was funny only a little annoyed that we wasted saran wrap.
    We also used to stick each other’s straws in hot sauce and then put them back in the cups. Taking a swig of hot sauce isn’t always fun but we had a great group of people who were all pretty laid back so no one ever got too upset.

  112. Rachel A*

    My coworker and I are both short women (in a mostly male department) who sit across from each other. Sometimes people confuse us, despite the fact that we look nothing alike. For April Fool’s we switched desks for the day. A few people were confused momentarily, most were amused, no one got hurt, and we were able to do this with less than 5 minutes of setting up or tearing down.

  113. Other Meredith*

    My supervisor at the library once rescued a CPR dummy head from some kids who were using it to play soccer outside, and since then she’s built up a collection of mannequin heads. Recently she lined them all up on the windowsill in the breakroom behind the gauzy curtains. They scared the heck out of everyone who went to get a snack, including me, but it was hilarious.

  114. DCGirl*

    From my fund raising days…. I worked on the alumni phonathon program at a very large state university. Our office was in the basement of men’s dormitory, so we often had to put up with a lot of noise and drunken behavior from above. There was one day I arrived to work and had to climb over the Coke machine, which had been thrown out a window over night, in order to enter the building, for example.

    I worked the early shift, processing the previous night’s pledges, sending reminders, setting out the calling lists for the next night. My boss worked the late shift, which meant supervising the callers and staying till 11:00 when calls to the West Coast were finished. My boss would always call me when he got up to ask about the totals, etc.

    On April 1, he called and I said, “OMG, I’m so glad you called. I just got here and the guys upstairs must have stopped up all the toilets. The office is FLOODED, and all of last night’s pledge cards have been destroyed.”

    I totally got him for a few minutes, while he panicked, until I gave it away by giggling.

  115. DM Farmer*

    I had a fuzzy hat (fedora style) that I bought in London back in the 90’s and I loved it! My boss used to stab it with a pen saying it moved whenever it sat on my desk. One April Fool’s, taking some fishing line and a hook, I attached it to his suit jacket. He walked down the hall with this hat bouncing down behind him. Told him the hat was upset about being stabbed.

    Everyone had a laugh about my “possessed hat” :D

  116. Dust Bunny*

    This wasn’t April Fool specific, but when my boss started at Current Job, he came from a similar department at University, and everybody in our discipline knows everyone else, at least locally. They sent us a gag gift that had been languishing in their storeroom for years (nothing gross, just something that’s funny if you do this kind of work). So we sent back . . . I forget what it was, but something ridiculous. They sent us some old taxidermied fish from some campus building. We sent them a box of shrapnel when one of our air-conditioners self-destructed. They sent us (other weird thing, I forget what). We waited awhile and then sent them a semi-convincing “antiquity” with a note handwritten by me (they don’t know my handwriting) about how a distant relative worked for University and this ended up in his possession yada yada. We were so into this that I recruited a friend to mail it to them from out of state if the postmark was going to be a problem; she was disappointed when it didn’t need to go that far. Anyway, they thought the had gotten the last word and semi-believed this for about six months until Boss asked them about it at an event (they had not publicized it, pending authentication).

    They still haven’t topped it.

  117. SaffyTaffy*

    The only one I ever did was I printed out fake nameplates for all my coworkers with the names of actors or famous characters they resembled or idolized.

  118. Jennifer*

    My favorite prank on The Office is the one where they realized Stanley doesn’t really notice anything. They swapped out his coffee for orange juice, said they were opening a new branch on Jupiter, switched out his desk mates, brought in a miniature horse. He just kept on doing his crossword puzzles and left right on time.

  119. Mrs. Fenris*

    I’m not sure how appropriate this would be in most offices, but in my workplace it sort of fit. I worked in a 24 hour animal hospital. We had an all-hands rounds session at the morning and evening shift changes. One year we had a nurse who was pregnant and approaching the “due any day” stage. We had an easily flustered male doctor, and somebody got the idea to fake the nurse’s water breaking during rounds. Much discussion and research followed, because a. we didn’t really know what a human’s water breaking looked like, and b. we couldn’t figure out how to make it happen in a semi-controlled manner. We finally solved it with an IV fluid bag, a pair of scissors, and a couple of practice runs. It turned out that another, equally high-strung dude was working that night too, so we were expecting pandemonium.

    Well…it turns out that a medical emergency really doesn’t fluster a medical professional that much. They both jumped calmly into action, ready to call the nurse’s husband, take her to the hospital etc. Everyone had a chuckle, but most of all we were impressed and touched at how quickly they were ready to jump in and help.

  120. StarHunter*

    Harmless prank for April Fools’: I used to work at a place where the guys would play cards at lunch. Can’t remember the name of the game, but the idea was to get the kings because that got you the most points. So before lunch I took all the kings out of the deck…. They got a chuckle out of it later and had wondered why no one had seen a king.

  121. Arya Snark*

    My best prank coincidentally came to fruition on 4/1 – my friend and I were big fans of Office Space – we’d quote the movie constantly, I slyly named a report the Total Production Summary so we’d have a TPS report to laugh about, etc.
    We changed his name in Excel to Bill Lumbergh one day then forgot all about it. Then, one 4/1 our boss (who was head of compliance, had to make sure we met all sorts of SEC regulations and while he was a good boss, he was a bit of a stick in the mud) attempted to open a file my friend was in then started screaming, “Who is Bill Lumbergh and why is he accessing our system?!?!?!” We had to explain it because he had never seen the film (!!!) and probably only didn’t get in serious trouble because we convinced him it was an April Fools’ prank.

  122. Chocoholic*

    I used to tease my husband that I was going to tell him I was pregnant on April Fools Day and he always responded that I should not do that because it was not funny. Then one year, I was actually pregnant. It was funny because I got the confirmation from the doctor’s office on April Fools Day. So I got to tell him I was pregnant, but I wasn’t kidding!

    1. Mrs. Fenris*

      I grew up with a girl whose birthday was 4/1. She had six older brothers, and this was back when you didn’t find out the sex of the baby until delivery. So the story was that when the doctor said “it’s a girl!” her mom was absolutely sure it was an April Fool’s joke.

  123. Silicon Valley Girl*

    Yesterday, our director sent out a meeting request for a Very Important Workshop on Saturday April 13 from 6am-11am, assuring us that it was crucial to attend & she was sorry but she just couldn’t get the speaker to come in at any other time but it would be absolutely worth it. Usually, we are a very work-life balance, no weekend work type team, so this is not normal. There was *a lot* of back & forth about whether or not to believe her via email & slack, but she doubled-down, saying breakfast would be provided & it was important to make every effort to attend. Finally, a couple ppl called her out & she relented. While I admit to being fooled, I don’t mind! I’ve been part of some big pranks over the years, including some corporate fake product launches & such.

  124. N*

    Just yesterday, someone put googly eyes all over the technology at our ticket desk at our museum. Googly eyes on the scanners, printers, radios, and a bunch of other things as well. It was fantastic and absolutely hilarious without being offensive or disruptive.

  125. Lena Clare*

    Shudders.

    I utterly, utterly despise pranks in every single form imaginable. I don’t find even the genuinely mild ones funny when they’re done to other people. I am relieved if the recipient of the prank laughs and finds it funny but I would be cross to downright furious if someone tried to do it to me.

    An acquaintance I knew, not in my workplace, knew a colleague had a phobia of frogs so bought a fake one and put it in his coat pocket so he’d find it unexpectedly when he put his hand in. I find that horrifying.

  126. Former call centre worker*

    I have a colleague who’s a bit of a prankster, who also hates Christmas and was grumbling about it in the run up to it last year. When we were decorating our desks and he happened to be out of the office, his team gift wrapped everything on his desk – his books, his mail, tinsel everywhere, fairy lights wound round his mouse, miniature tree on the desk, they even wrapped the actual desk itself. They photoshopped him into a picture of Santa to show him, child-size, sitting on Santa’s knee, printed it, framed it and put it on his desk. They printed off signs pointing to “[Colleague]’s grotto” and stuck them around the office.

    When Colleague came in and saw it, he clearly realised he’d been had and slunk off to sit at another desk, defeated. He didn’t sit at his own desk again until January.

    1. Bulbasaur*

      I know someone who did something similar to a colleague similar to yours (prankster and outspoken Christmas Grinch). Mostly it involved extravagant decorations similar to yours, but they also changed the theme and various settings on his PC desktop to change the background, mouse pointer, system sounds etc. to Christmas-themed ones.

      I think he actually left most of it up, and decided to be faux-cheerful about Christmas that year.

      1. Former call centre worker*

        Hah! Sadly I don’t think that would work at my office as we use laptops and it’s open plan, so the chances of finding a laptop unattended, unlocked, and out of sight of its owner are quite low. I’ll keep it in mind for next year though just in case an opportunity presents itself!

  127. Astrid*

    Almost all of my friends and close family have done summers working as Staff at the same summer camp. 16 and 17 year-olds can be SITs- staff in training, before they graduate to full Staff.

    My sister did her summer as an SIT and came back as staff when my close friend was an SIT. He was washing dishes in the dining hall and she reminded him he needed to take apart the tray cart and run it through the dishwasher as well. The giant, heavy duty Rubbermaid cart they used to transport all the lunch trays.

    He went and asked the head kitchen worker if he really had to do that. She handed him pliers.

  128. Foolz*

    My current boss hired an engineer who had “fluffed” his resume and quit without notice within a few months due to being in over his head. It took a while to hire his replacement, a woman who ended up being great at her job and just a genuinely great person. A few months after she was hired, my boss went on a business trip and his first day back was April 1. The department conspired with the new engineer, and Boss came back to find her laptop, phone, and ID badge neatly stacked on the corner of his desk. They let him go to HR and panic for a few minutes before they revealed she hadn’t really quit.

  129. Nervous Accountant*

    My coworker was moving seats. he had left, so we boxed up his belongings and everyone wrote all over it saying “Good luck, see you soon, etc”. One intern had the same name as teh company’s owner and he signed his name. I only say its’ hilarious cz he was laughing and was a good sport

    another one, he went on vacation and his friends gift wrapped his entire desk and filled hsi drawer with those can tops.

  130. KT Library Lady*

    My former coworker was a delightful prankster and we worked in an environment that enjoyed a good prank, so these all were hilarious.
    – Giant bowl of M&M’s and Skittles mixed together without telling anyone they were mixed
    -Hiding another coworker’s belongings in various places
    -Gift wrapping our manager’s office while he was on vacation
    -Hiding a creepy bald pantsless female mannequin in various shadowy corners – this one was picked up by multiple coworkers and went on for about 3 weeks
    -An escalating prank war with a coworker: He put an overturned paper cup on her desk with the note saying “Caution – huge bug underneath!” When she lifted the cup, all she saw was a picture of that stupid troll meme. When she figured out who did it, she pranked him back (details escape me). He then put dozens of photos of Nic Cage around her office in fun hiding spots. She decided to Saran Wrap his car and put multiple photos of Mr. Bean in between the layers. We thought that was the end of it, but he then recruited another coworker to help him cover her car in hundreds of PostIt notes – every square inch was covered and he spelled out her name on the windshield AND they had rotated each post it so that the adhesive was on a different side, so she had to take them all off individually. She conceded her crown and has not won it back yet.

    Now, these pranks were ALL done in good faith and with the knowledge that the people involved would find it funny! Do not try if you’re not sure!!

    1. Snickerdoodle*

      A couple of years ago, I got put in charge of the office Halloween party, cube decorating contest, and my coworker’s baby shower all in the same week. I couldn’t handle it, snapped under the pressure, and dumped one bag each of Skittles, M&M’s, and Reese’s Pieces into a giant bowl and left it by the mailboxes with little serving cups and a sign reading “Help yourself!” Easily the most malicious thing I’ve ever done in my life.

        1. JKP*

          Everyone keeps bringing up the peanut allergy, but if someone is actually allergic, are they really going to eat mystery candy out of a bowl? It would be different if the candy was put back into the original packaging so the allergic person thought they knew what they were eating.

          1. Lena Clare*

            No of course not but the point of this particular prank is telling people “here’s a bowl of x!” when really the bowl is full of x,y,z isn’t it?
            So if I say to a colleague (or anyone) ‘what is in this edible thing’? I am determining whether I can eat it or not, so if they lie to play a prank on me I am not getting the correct information, and won’t act accordingly. And really, I tend to assume people wouldn’t lie about something like that.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Actually, I’ve never seen a reference to labeling the bowl. No one is putting M&Ms in a bowl and saying “have some Skittles.”

              1. Lena Clare*

                Then that’s not a prank, that’s just a bowl of food people may help themselves to?

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  From what I’ve seen, the prank part is that people assume they’re M&Ms and are shocked to get a Skittle.

          2. vampire physicist*

            I have a severe peanut allergy and you are correct. I’m not saying everyone with a peanut allergy would do this, but I do not eat unlabeled loose candy, and I’m pretty cautious about free food not in its original packaging in general. I would feel differently if someone did this someplace where there might be children or if they’d put the mixed candy back in the bag, but most adults with food allergies know to be careful, and also most people with peanut allergies know what Reese’s Pieces and M&Ms look like.

  131. Mimi Me*

    I worked in a call center and had recently been moved to a specialized team. Another team member and I had just finished our in-depth training and were finally taking calls. As chance had it she and I were the last two team members to leave the office on March 31st, our first day with this new team. We were feeling silly so we decided to prank the team by putting a piece of tape on the bottom of everyone’s mouse (including our own) – so it wouldn’t work until it was removed. The next day I arrived about 30 minutes after she did and as I approached our work area she greeted me with panicked eyes and a fair amount of worry. Turns out the guy who left right before we did the night before was a known prankster on the team and everyone thought he had done the prank. In retaliation, they “dressed” his work station with all manner of confetti, post-its, and silly decorative things. We didn’t anticipate this and didn’t know how to proceed – should we let everyone know we did it? Would he be upset? Would the team hate us? He came in and, of course, denied the prank and being who he was nobody believed him. My co-worker and I were silent and said nothing. About an hour after he’d arrived our manager came in and she started teasing him. At this point I made a comment along the lines of how looks are deceiving and you shouldn’t overlook the quiet people on the team. Everyone immediately realized that he hadn’t done anything and we had and they all started laughing. The guy they had retaliated against took it in stride. He actually told us that the desk thing was long overdue since there was a lot he’d done that hadn’t even been discovered yet. Our manager even included the prank in the welcome to the team speech she made at the next team meeting.
    I don’t think I’d ever prank someone at work like that again because the stress of that morning was very intense. We didn’t know the dynamics of the team enough to know how our prank, however harmless, would be received. My co-worker and I really were scared that the guy who’d been singled out would be upset and that everyone would be mad at us. It didn’t occur to us the night before because we were young, new, and laughing at our own joke. I was happy that it was taken with the spirit in in which it was done, but seriously, it was a stressful morning.

  132. HG*

    One year my colleagues bought an 9 foot tall inflatable snowman- like what appears on your neighbors’ lawn at Christmas. We kept it inflated by the windows so that anyone who was on our floor could see “Lord Benedict”. On the last day before we broke for the holidays, we had a metrics review including people in various offices on different continents. We started the session by having “Lord Benedict” lead the meeting, sitting at the head of our conference table while we all provided updates.

  133. Snickerdoodle*

    When I worked as a stagehand, it was common to ask new people to go find some striped paint or locate a sky hook.

    1. PickyChicky*

      …and the stage electrician version – back in the day when color in front of stage lights was actually created with sheets of geletin (hence called gel). A staple was to have the newbies/interns go to “wash the gel”. Needless to say, it dissolved and they panicked.

  134. Combinatorialist*

    In my building in grad school, there was a bit of wall that looked like someone had punched or something. It had hole and the finish was kind of peeling away outwards. Some unsung hero (no idea who), printed out a picture of the Koolaid man and stuck it in there. For years the hole was unfixed and for years the Koolaid man was still there. Everyone I knew found it hilarious.

  135. (Former) HR Expat*

    I worked in a distribution center in a college town that was one of the rivals to my college. The DC leader was a huge sports fan, so each year when my team beat his, I snuck into his office in the evening and “decorated” it with my school’s mascot, and balloons/streamers/party decorations in my school’s colors. We also had a running bet that the loser would have to wear the winner’s school gear and sing their fight song in front of the entire team, so I knew he would take it well. He thought it was hilarious.

  136. Melissa*

    I worked in an office where one day we all walked in that morning to see that our Executive Director’s office was flooded with pink lawn flamingos. No one knew who did it.

  137. Pink Hair Don't Care*

    I took a photo of my coworker eating a hamburger mid bite, then used it as the background for the office clock. I had to take the clock apart and everything. It took him days to notice but when he did he laughed really hard! We eventually put the clock back to normal but whenever I look at it I always get the urge to laugh.

  138. Faulty Knees*

    One of the managers was a year before me in high school. I made copies of his senior year book picture (which was about 15 years old) and before anybody else arrived for the day, put them on the name plates on all the cubes and offices.
    He loved it! He was laughing and having a great time all day.
    I know him well enough to know he has a great sense of humor and loves attention, and was “punching up.”

  139. froodle*

    I stole a colleagues little Power Rangers man off his desk and at lunch time I took him out with me and took photos of him in little picturesque spots along with notes to his owner saying things like “goodbye (owner)” and “(froodle) treats me better” and “why do you never take me anywhere special?” Then when I came back to work I emailed him one photo every half hour, copying in the rest of the team every time. At one point he was away from his desk making a drink in the little kitchenette, heard the burst of laughter and slumped over his half made mug of tea in despair, KNOWING it was another missive from blue ranger billy telling him how much he preferred me. I gave it back at the end of the day, but Billy vacation photos were a.lot of people’s screensavers or desktops for a long, long time.

  140. YabaDabaDo*

    I worked with two younger guys that were friends (knew each other prior to working in our office). One of them, Tom, was in charge of maintaining our Access databases. Tom would add a command to the queries that would send the other coworker, Adam, an email any time a specific/routine query was run. It would just say goofy things like “You’re the best!” or “Live, Laugh, Love” or other random sayings we would get from my Dove chocolate squares. It was funny and even after Adam figured it out (and was amused), we kept it up and had fun making the email messages more ridiculous.
    Harmless and entertaining!

    1. Mrs. H. Kenway*

      I bought a bag of those Dove chocolates a few months ago. I gave my youngest (14-y-o) daughter one, and after she read the wrapper she looked up at me and said, “Are these grandma chocolates?” My husband and I thought that was a great descriptor.

      So until the bag was gone, we used to each have one piece a night after dinner and read the “inspirational” messages aloud, while we all nodded and talked about how deep and meaningful it was.

  141. SusanDC*

    Not me but my brother pulled a Jim from The Office move and hid a walkie talkie in his boss’s ceiling and kept the other one in his office. Where he played salsa music and occasionally pretended to sound like CB radio. He still laughs when he talks about this-he did it for a few days and took it out-everyone in the office knew and tried really hard not to laugh when the boss would walk around and ask other people if they heard music.

  142. StaceyIzMe*

    I think that the question of whether a prank goes over well or not is somewhat down to the tastes and the mood of the person being targeted. Reading through some of the pranks quoted, they didn’t feel very funny. Things not to waste- time (sending people on needless searches, it’s hazing when there’s a power imbalance), energy (they’re trying to clean up the post-its you left, figure out the tech puzzle you left or something similar), money (anonymously ordering food or other items they must either pay for or pass along a loss for to the business), trust (self-explanatory)… There are probably others. The thing is, most people who pull pranks don’t know whether someone has the margin to absorb their attempt at humor. How do you know they haven’t had some difficulty that has whittled their patience, energy or other personal margins? Generally, if your prank causes inconvenience, loss of time, money or status in social or professional settings, or otherwise objectifies them, you’re spending another person’s personal resources without their consent. It’s a form of bullying, even if it’s not often called that. There are a few exceptions. But many people who pull pranks flatter themselves that their creativity, intelligence and other traits manage to make up for the things they waste. Not really. Or at least, not usually. More usually, they rely on the object of their prank to absorb the negative aspects of the prank so that they and their ostensible audience can enjoy a snicker, a laugh, self-satisfaction or superiority. It’s not an emotionally generous impulse, but a selfish one, in my view.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Absolutely 100% agree with all of this. I’m even feeling situated teasing sooner of the pranks people have played!

      I think some part of it is having pranks played on me as a child and not finding them funny, and then being called a ‘party pooper’ or being told I had no sense of humour, which provokes extreme anxiety in me now.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Ugh predictive text.
        Sorry, that should say I’m even feeling agitated now reading of the pranks people have played

    2. MonteCristo85*

      Thank you. That is the best explanation of the problem with pranks I’ve ever read.

      I agree 1000%.

    3. Jane*

      Absolutely, hazing and inappropriately targeted pranks are not funny. Pranks can be done well- I’m something of a prankster myself – but often they are not. My favorite that I’ve done involved unwrapping several hundred cheep Easter chocolates and using the wrappers to individually wrap grapes. I left them out on the checkin table at a large community event and they were the hit of the evening. The kids loved them cause their parents would let them eat as many as they wanted. The adults loved them cause they were really funny (though most adults threw them away when they discovered it wasn’t chocolate, rather than eat the grape.).

  143. AZAmazonQueenT-Rex*

    While I was going through flight school, there was a radar instructor who was liked among a majority of the students and my class, myself included, all liked and respected him. April Fools fell during a time when he was our instructor, so the day before 01 April, I stayed late with the intent of playing a prank on him using his desk. I’d bought 5 rolls of aluminum foil and after all the instructors had left for the day, I started individually foiling everything on his desk. Most of my class was still there studying and saw what I was doing and joined in. Every little sticky notes, piece of paper, folder, chair, wheels, etc. was not left untouched by foil. The next day he took it very well and even left it up for the whole morning for everyone to see. One instructor commented that was the hardest he’d ever seen students work. I did have a flight with him that afternoon and he joking through a very large foil ball at me as he walked into the briefing room. From there on out, I would use the aluminum foil joke every couple of years. One year, we JO’s (junior officers) did it to our XO’s office (sooooooooo many plaques to cover) and a couple of JO’s even made an rug for him. Wish that was my idea, but it was not. They cut the slices sides into sides so it simulate the yarn strings that surrounds some rugs. XO loved it so much, that he kept the rug laid for almost 2 months until it was destroyed. Good times.

  144. Snickerdoodle*

    I have a coworker who used to sneak into people’s cubes when their backs were turned and wait to see how long it took them to notice he was there. Inevitably, I sneaked into his cube and sat down and waited for a full five minutes before giving up and just asking him whatever it was I needed to ask him. He jumped a mile and left me severely alone after that. :D