the plastic-wrapped office, the fake brownies, and other pranks at work

Let’s talk about pranks at work, given the date.

I’ve learned from writing this column that pranks at work are far more controversial than I realized! Some people really hate them or think they’re inherently mean-spirited. But there are plenty of offices that enjoy a well-intentioned prank. For example, here are some that readers have reported here in the past.

* “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).”

* “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.”

* “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.”

* “My labmates went about 100 step further. I had set a coworker’s 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.”

* “The three male members of my team were VERY into 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 whereever they had been. One of them really liked coffee, but he wasn’t pretentious about it like the others. So Non-Pretentious Coffee Drinker (NPCD) decided to play an April Fool’s 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.”

* “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!”

* “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.”

So, let’s talk in the comment section about pranks at work that caused genuine merriment (not ones that went terribly wrong).

{ 550 comments… read them below }

  1. Ella sin nombre*

    I asked my coworker for a small, normal work favor recently via email. They complied & I replied with “You’re the best!”. Approximately 200 copies of my reply have been printed, hung in my workspace, and inserted among all my work materials, lest anybody forget who my favorite coworker is *rolls eyes* My work station is also covered in about two years worth of memes that various coworkers find amusing.

    1. Retired with my feet up*

      I was a paralegal at a small law firm. I got called to be in the jury pool for a federal case being held in the state capital 2 hours away. The senior partner wrote a letter to get me excused and one sentence said “In *retired with my feet up’s* absence this office would essentially cease to function. Well, I copied that sentence and posted it all over the office-in drawers, in files, in law books, in the fridge, you name it. We would laugh every time someone came across it.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          It’s a simple fact that federal district courts cover a lot of ground. Some States are a single district. My State has 3 US district courts.

          The jury pool is drawn from the entire district, no matter which city in the district the court might sit in to hear a case.

          1. NoviceManagerGuy*

            Yeah, you can’t just draw the jury pool from the city where the district court is.

        2. All Zoomed out and nothing to throw*

          I think it’s pretty common in rural states. I was summoned a couple of years ago for a federal district court jury pool. I had to travel 140 miles one way and stay overnight (at the court’s expense). There were people in the pool who had traveled considerably further.

      1. Pug Mom*

        I once had a coworker who served on the Grand Jury in the Capital of our state. This meant that he had to miss numerous days of work each month for an entire year. Our capital is an hour and a half away from our small city. I believe that he was put up in a hotel near the court. Or, possibly he was reimbursed for his hotel and mileage. I dunno — I just always thought of jury duty as one’s civic duty regardless of where one ended up having to serve.

    2. StoneColdJaneAusten*

      I would consider that a lesson learned about complimenting this coworker, but I’m mean that way.

      1. RexJacobus*

        Are you actually Stone C0ld Jane Austen, the English lit professor/ roller derby queen?

    1. Generic Name*

      Yes! I’m normally not one for mean-spirited pranks, April Fools Day or no, but a lot of the pranks the companies and internet sites pull on April 1 are super fun and I always get a good chuckle. NPR has a good track record. Some memorable ones were the music reviewer waxing poetic over his review of a song consisting entirely of a single deep tuba note. The reviewer described it as “flatulent”. Ha! Another good one was a story about “inland whale farming. I thought it was a gag from the get go, but apparently some people took it seriously and were upset, so maybe that one wasn’t so successful.

      1. JustaTech*

        This is the day of the year when I miss Think Geek – they had the best April Fools products (and some of them even got made!).

        1. Fae Kamen*

          Wow, I don’t know that one—but in California, Australia and probably more places, they get exploding eucalyptus trees during fires.

        2. calonkat*

          Kansas Public Radio once did a 10 minute story on the planned removal of Mount Sunflower, the highest point in Kansas. Discussions about how it was blocking the view of Colorado, the difficulty in traversing it, etc. All with legislators and the governor, and all very serious until the end when the governor stated they’d be putting all the dirt in the Nebraska stadium.
          Mount Sunflower is a small bump in the prairie, btw, about 1/2 mile from the lowest point in Colorado.

    2. TardyTardis*

      One older member of our office received a walker, a pack of Depends and a Giant Fake Medicare card. Another member hitting a significant birthday–well, we all thought the coffin was kind of over the top, but the black roses were pretty. The last April Fool’s Day I remember, the global language of the printer/copier was changed to French (learned a lot of the settings menu fixing it, mind you).

  2. Not Australian*

    A bit boring, really; we set up our boss with a fake appointment first thing in the morning to avoid inconveniencing him too much, and then before he got to work we disappeared as much of his office furniture as we could into the store room. He appreciated it, but wasn’t terribly happy when we later insisted on bringing everything back – including his files. The person who got the most enjoyment out of it, though, was apparently a client who was talking to one of our colleagues on the phone and overheard us plotting on the previous day…

    1. EPLawyer*

      “Oh darn, can’t work, my files are missing. Along with anything to work on.”


      “Crap they brought the files back. There goes that excuse.”

    2. Nobody Here by That Name*

      Oh man, this reminds me of a nice prank I helped my boss’s wife play one year. She planned a surprise vacation for him for their anniversary and asked that I not book any appointments for him on the day they’d be leaving. What I did instead was fill his calendar with (unknown to him) fake appointments with people I knew he disliked. That way he got a double nice surprise of not only the trip, but knowing he didn’t actually have a day of dealing with awful people. :D

  3. The Dog's Mom*

    I had a mgr who graduated a year ahead of me in HS. I found his senior picture in one of my yearbooks – copied it and pasted it on every name plate on each desk of our office. I know this guy really well – he has a great sense of humor and doesn’t have any problem being the center of attention. He loved it and laughed all day.

    That said – too many pranks are about bullying – so I am not usually a big of them.

    1. BubbleTea*

      I was thinking about this earlier, the balance between funny for the prankster and funny for the prankee, and decided it is about who experiences the most inconvenience. My favourite that I’ve heard of is putting googly eyes on every single item in the fridge. A lot of effort for the person doing the prank, a mild but not nasty shock for the person discovering it, and not a huge deal to clean up (just remove eyes if necessary over time).

      1. Web Crawler*

        I put googly eyes on so many things in my partner’s room once, including her headphones, water bottle, and standing fan. Plus a lot of her mom’s things by accident. Most of the googly eyes are still there because my partner and her mom thought it was funny and kept them.

        1. Lizzo*

          I saw somewhere on the recent interwebs that there is someone who goes around and puts googly eyes on random things in Costco.

          1. HotSauce*

            I think it must be more than one someone because I got some on a bag of cat food. I didn’t even notice it until I got it home. When I talked about it in the Costco subreddit someone else said they got one on their toothbrush heads. We live in two different states hundreds of miles apart.

        2. azvlr*

          I have a co-worker (“co-irker”?) that is really into Star Wars. I put googly eyes on some of the figures on his desk.
          I also deliberately mix my Star Wars and Star Trek references: “My favorite movie in the series was The Empire Strikes Back, but I was really sad when Spock died.”

          1. nonethefewer*

            Reminds me of the time that I uploaded two emoji to the work Slack, one of the Death Star and one of the Enterprise, named :startrek: and :starwars:, *respectively*.

      2. MissCoco*

        My mom plays the cello, and often has lessons after work. On those days, one of her coworkers who doesn’t share an office lets my mom store her cello there (so it doesn’t get cold/hot in the car).

        I put giant googly eyes on the cello case, which my mom thought was cute.
        Her coworker came in the next day, opened the door to her dark office and saw only a giant pair of eyes staring back at her
        She was pretty freaked out for a second until she switched the light on to be confronted by a cello case with eyes. My mom found out because when she stopped by to pick it up that afternoon, her coworker had pointed the cello so its “eyes” were facing the wall – apparently it had been staring at her all day

        1. sadbutnotbad*

          I play cello and I used to keep a hat on top of my case. Was a big shock to guests who got up in the night to use the bathroom and weren’t expecting a shadowy figure standing in the corner.

          1. Violet Rose*

            Not a prank, but I made a giant plush horse for my partner and, unbeknownst to me, painted the eyes with glow-in-the-dark paint. Boy was that fun to discover the first time I had to make a midnight bathroom run!

        2. Former Employee*

          Literally laughed out loud.

          Thanks. I can always use a laugh, especially these days

      3. Sparrow*

        That seems like a good way of thinking about it! I was just thinking that I really liked the wallet photo prank specifically because it didn’t really cause any inconvenience to the prankee – nothing big to clean up, no disruption to their day, no potential public embarrassment, etc.

      4. SarahKay*

        I have a furry fabric sheep-shaped door-stopper that I call Bert, and he has the most enormous googly eyes. A few days after I got him a friend came to visit and at some point turned round and spotted Bert for the first time and I swear he jumped back about a foot. Poor old Bert was just quietly sitting out of the way behind the door, but apparently my friend found his eyes, in particular, highly startling.

    2. Scott*

      In my opinion, a good prank ends with both the pranker and the victim laughing and having a good time.

      1. JanetM*

        There used to be a Usenet group called “alt.shenanigans.” Their definition was that a shenanigan left everyone laughing or at worst vaguely confused, whereas a prank made the victim unhappy. The canonical example was, “Standing at the mall handing people hardboiled eggs with motivational sayings on them is a shenanigan. Egging someone’s car is a prank.”

        I would suggest that “flash mobs” are also mostly shenanigans.

        1. Clorinda*

          I never even knew there was such a thing as a singular shenanigan. I thought shenanigans were always plural!

        2. Drtheliz*

          My favourite ever shenanigan was a pair of kids who were *notorious* for not getting ready for school because I don’t waaaaanna. So one year on April 1st there they are, in dressing gowns and socks, laying on the bedroom floor reading comic books. Dad is ready to drag them through the morning and has just got his “really” face on whe. They stand up, take off the dressing gowns… and are in full school uniform with the trousers rolled up. Boys were laughing because they got their dad for real, dad was laughing because a. clever boys and b. his morning just got 60% less annoying. Fun all round!

          1. Chocoholic*

            When my kids were younger, on April Fool’s Day, they would get up before I went up to call them and switch beds. That was fun and funny for everyone.

  4. ThatGirl*

    Two companies ago I worked with some lovely folks who loved to celebrate birthdays. Food was expected, of course, and maybe a card and some streamers. But what I wasn’t expecting was my entire cubicle covered in streamers and balloons, to the point that I had to crawl under them to sit at my desk. It made me pretty happy, I’ll be honest.

    The last company I worked at (before my current job) was a household name baking and decorating supply company, which had an in-house decorating room and test kitchen. So there were frequently cupcakes, cakes and other treats in our break area, left over after a round of test baking or decorating for photography. Of course sometimes decorators use foam forms instead and cover them in fondant and icing. One day someone put a decorated styrofoam block out, complete with a knife, and sat and watched as people tried to cut themselves a slice of cake only to be foiled.

    1. ThatGirl*

      From my husband’s work – his boss (who used to be a coworker and was promoted) has a real Dad Joke sense of humor. Two memorable moments include loudly exclaiming that there was a huge leak in the kitchen (it was a leek) and telling my husband he needed to call back a Lee Muhr, with the callback number being our local zoo.

      1. New Job So Much Better*

        My husband got pranked like that also — had a message to return at the bank from a Mr. Baer. Was the Baltimore Zoo.

      2. Miss V*

        We did something similar to our boss a couple years ago. Told him he had a message from a Mr. Lee On with a number to the zoo.

      3. All Zoomed out and nothing to throw*

        Gah, leek jokes. My husband thinks it’s the height of hilarity to pick up a leek from the kitchen counter, wave it around, and announce to all and sundry that he just took a leek.

        Footnote: I have stopped growing leeks.

    2. OhNo*

      Somewhat related – the only prank my coworkers and boss have ever pulled on me was one birthday when they completely blocked the door to my office with various streamers and banner decorations. It was a lovely surprise first thing in the morning, and we all had a laugh while I cleared some of them away. My coworkers offered to help, but I insisted on doing it myself, for… reasons ;)

      Those reasons being that I am much, much shorter than everyone in my office (because I’m a wheelchair user), so I removed just enough of the streamers that I could pass underneath in my chair, the bottom three feet or so, and left the rest up. The rest of the day, any of my coworkers that wanted to talk to me either had to limbo underneath my decorations, or talk to me through the wall of streamers. It made all of us laugh all day long.

    3. Eat My Squirrel*

      A prank loving coworker and I teamed up every year to decorate our favorite boss’s office for his birthday. One year it was about 200 balloons, including a dry erase marker that floated around tied to about half a dozen helium filled mylar balloons.
      One year it was a forest of streamers.
      One year it was toy snakes (his wife’s idea, because he hates snakes).
      The best one was probably the time we covered his entire office with a good half inch of fake snow and did a Frozen theme. Snow was tracked all over the building that day. That’s the only one we cleaned up ourselves, to be nice to the janitorial staff. All the rest, he had to clean up himself. Usually took him a week or two.
      He turned 50 the year before last, and since he was now a bigtime Director in a fancy office area mostly populated by the VP and his staff, were elected to do one last big bash and then never again. We filled his office a solid 5 feet high with air filled balloons. It took 4 people an entire day. The admin kind of freaked out about it and voluntarily got rid of all the balloons after he’d seen them, so we were kind of glad we had decided to stop anyway.
      It was always appreciated, though. We have photos of him standing in a sea of balloons, forest of streamers, and snow filled wonderland with a huge smile on his face.
      We plan to break those out when he retires and shrink wrap his car while he’s partying. lol I hope he doesn’t read this blog…

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      On my boss’s 40th, his close work friend (whose cube he’d decorated with black balloons and streamers for her 40th a few years earlier) hired a company to decorate the lawn next to the parking lot for his birthday. It did not go as expected. Timeline:

      8:30 – truck pulls into lot, worker comes out of the truck, places plastic lawn buzzards and signs saying “Happy 40th birthday, (Boss), you old buzzard”, on the lawn, truck leaves.
      9:00 – truck comes back, worker comes out, collects all the lawn decorations and puts them back in the truck, truck leaves.
      9:15 – we all get an email from HR stating that any signs with a person’s age in them are considered age discrimination and not allowed.
      9:30 – boss strolls into the office at 9:30, as he does every day. He was really upset to find out that he’d missed the whole thing.

    5. mechnight*

      A colleague celebrated a milestone birthday last year — we got a gift, I made a cake, and we put up a bunch of balloons, ribbons and what not around his office, then all hid inside and locked the door from the inside for him to find us in the morning. It was a full success and some of those balloons may still be floating around…

  5. Mental Lentil*

    I once had a retail job where an assistant department manager who had moved on a few years prior to my starting had placed his business card in all sorts of inconspicuous places all over not just our department but the entire store. We were still finding them five years later!

    I never met the man, but I have the greatest respect for him because of this prank.

    1. Dasein9*

      I mean. . . who doesn’t have a whole box of leftover business cards that are out of date?

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        It’s hilarious to me because I have agency issued business cards that I literally never use! Now I have a plan for what to do with them on my last day here, whenever that may be!

        1. it's-a-me*

          My company issued me 300 business cards, 6 years into my employment. I do not have an outward facing job, there is literally no one I would ever give them to.

  6. buzzbuzzbeepbeep*

    One time my coworker took all the wheels off my office chair and hid them. I got him back by unscrewing his license plate from his car, wrapping it up in a big box with wrapping paper, and giving it back to him as a present at lunch time. Then he unplugged all the phone cords from the handsets in and around my office and proceeded to call different numbers all day. I would pick up and try to answer not realizing that the phone handset wasn’t attached to anything! It was great fun!

    1. pugsnbourbon*

      I saw a Reddit post recently where someone had the wheels stolen off his wheelie trash bin while it was at the curb. That’s either a really great prank OR a truly gifted form of petty revenge. Or a message from the mob.

  7. Momma Bear*

    There’s always covering the sensor on the mouse, unplugging the phone, mouse/keyboard/monitor, and wrapping everything in foil.

      1. Been There*

        My fiancé and I are Rick-rolling our wedding party. We’re going to dance to a classic love song and then about 20 seconds in switch to Never Gonna Give You Up. We haven’t told anyone, not even our best friends or the wedding planner. It’s going to be so fun!

        1. Rainy*

          I pitched making Never Gonna Give You Up our vows to my husband but he nixed it.

          Now that we’re married, I’m glad we didn’t, my in-laws don’t deserve that kind of fun. Or any kind of fun.

        2. Office Goblin*

          My husband Rick-rolls me every year on our anniversary! First year was paper roses with the song printed on them, then fabric roses with the music printed on those (from someone who didn’t make them anymore until they heard his idea!), and then a throw pillow with lyrics printed on them. I laugh every single time. (One of the roses in the bundle of paper ones also had a Harley Quinn comic because she’s my all-time favorite villain). Last year we didn’t because of costs and pandemic stuff (he just linked me the song on Youtube) , but I’m hoping he goes back to it again this year.

          Good luck with your Rick-roll wedding! :D

    1. Claire*

      The absolute best prank I witnessed was when two guys did all the usual stuff to their co-worker’s cubicle while he was on vacation–taped the mouse sensor, turned his nameplate upside down, etc. Co-worker returned, viewed his cubicle with an amused sigh and went about undoing the pranksters’ work. Once he’d finished, the pranksters said, “Nice work. You got *almost* all of them.” That’s when co-worker gave a mighty howl.

      Note: there were no more tricks, but Kyle had the most angelic and earnest expression. Also, once Kyle admitted there were no more, co-worker simply shook his head and said, “Brilliant. You got me there.”

      1. TootsNYC*

        oh, here’s one you could do to really freak someone out.
        Don’t do anything. But stop by and say, “did you find it?” Or ask one another “secretly” (where he can here), “did he find it yet?” “How long do you think it will take him to find it?” “I still think it was kind of mean; I hope it doesn’t screw something up for him.”/”Nah, it’s OK, he’s got a good sense of humor, and it’s not like the tape will damage anything.”

        But…there’s nothing.

    2. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

      I did post-its saying April Fool’s! on the mouse sensor to a bunch of people several years in a row. Luckily also thought to do it to myself so no one knew it was me. However, one year came in to work to a coworker escalating things up IT and getting increasingly frustrated because her mouse wasn’t working and I really had to wonder why she didn’t flip it over especially when so many other people in the office had the same ‘problem’.

    3. Anon to avoid incriminating myself*

      But when you do the mouse sensor, cover it with a black piece of paper {maniacal laugh}

  8. Spooncake*

    I used to work in a development lab for medical equipment. We had resuscitation dummies for fit testing masks and other tests that required things to be placed on a “patient”. One time someone went on annual leave for a week and accidentally left a hoodie behind… so we dressed one of the dummies in it and sat it in his office chair until he got back.

    1. Anne of Green Gables*

      Our Dean likes to do department holiday photos. One year, a member of a 4-person team was on vacation when the photos were going to be taken. The vacationing employee’s supervisor famously had a life-size cardboard cut-out of Angel (David Boreanaz) in her office. For the photo, the supervisor printed the vacationing employee’s headshot on a full sheet of paper and taped it over Angel’s face, and I believe added a Santa hat, so vacationing employee would be in the photo. I don’t know if vacationing employee was given advance notice of her stand-in but she thought it was hilarious once she knew about it.

      1. kittymommy*

        I had a coworker who, for some reason, had a life size cutout of Edward from Twilight in her office. That guy got around!

        1. Teach*

          I taught in a catholic school and a young theology teacher was hired…he brought his own life-sized Pope cutout! His Holiness was regularly “borrowed” for appearances in the student section of games, to appear in the corner of a room if there was a sub, or left looking in an office window…

          1. Katrianah (UK)*

            Depending on which Pope the window thing is either funny or creepy. I say that as a lapsed Catholic. Benedict would have made my skin crawl, John Paul II would have made me giggle.

        2. Windchime*

          Our office had a life-sized Justin Bieber for a while. It was great fun; he would show up in the ladies’ room, or peeping out from behind a screen my boss kept in his office to change out of his biking gear. Once we taped a co-worker’s picture over Justin’s face (but kept the long, side-swept hair) for the co-worker’s birthday.

    2. IndustriousLabRat*

      My work BFF/mentor wears very specific work shirts and a very specific brand of safety glasses, different from the rest of the shop, plus a certain style of the company hats. When he went on vacation a couple years back, I built a cardboard box and bubble wrap Engineering Manager (or… Industrial Scarecrow?), complete with blown up rubber glove hands, dressed it in his usual outfit, and sat it in his high-backed chair, back to the door… then spent the next couple days cackling as people would go into his office and start talking to it.

      Also, those dummies are creepy! Where I get my fit tests every year, they have one shoved in the corner of a hallway and EVERY YEAR I do a double take seeing it again.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        We have a guy at work who wears the exact same thing every day – black pants and a black button down. For some reason or another, my company decided to have “spirit week” and one of the days was twin day. A bunch of his coworkers decided they were going to be his twin and wear black pants and a black button down. I guess he overhead because he showed up in a 1970’s hot pink tux complete with bow tie. It was glorious.

      2. SarahKay*

        A few years back we had First Aider training done on-site in a big upstairs room. For some reason I had to go into the room and there were about half a dozen of the resuscitation dummies lying around on the floor. They were all the type without legs, just a head and torso and at first glance it looked like some sort of horrific disaster scene. Definitely a huge double-take on my part!
        (For those of you who remember Calvin and Hobbes, it also reminded me strongly of some of Calvin’s snow-people scenes).

    3. Le Sigh*

      I read this three times as “resurrection” dummies and it took me a good 30 seconds to figure out that you did not, in fact, have Lazarus rising up in his office.

      1. Spooncake*

        Ha! No, there was only one potential candidate there for rising from the dead, and it was me- the office goth ;)

      2. Rainy*

        To say “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
        Come back to train you all, I shall train you all.”

    4. Labbie*

      The head of the lab where I was working a few years ago was out of town and we discovered that his office contained one of his suits and a naked manikin. So we dressed the top half of the manikin in the shirt and coat and put it in his chair. Then we printed out his photo, taped it to the manikin’s head and put a coffee cup in its hand.

      For context, the manikin was normally wearing an elaborate Carnival costume that he took with him on the trip. No idea why the suit was there though…

    5. moonmouse*

      We had a giant pink stuffed dinosaur at my office – she even had a company jacket (black and orange, she was the epitome of style). When the HR lady went on vacation, we set her at her desk, put a pen behind her “ear”, fashioned her “paws” on the keyboard and put some reading glasses on her. Sent an email to the engineering staff that we had new HR.

      HR lady loved it. Tina the dinosaur was a popular employee….

  9. Lady Heather*

    I think it’s interesting to observe that in almost all the examples you give, pranking is done “up” – either pranking someone more powerful (boss, academic advisor) or a small group pranking a larger group. The middle school teachers essentially made fun of themselves, which is a good prank as well.

    Maybe that’s the way pranking should be done.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      They’re all punching up (or at least sideways, but never down), immediately obvious and non-malicious.

    2. Jack Straw*

      Agreed. When it’s done down, it sometimes seems mean due to the power dynamic but when done up or sideways, it shows appreciation.

      1. OhNo*

        That, plus in most of those cases, the folks pulling the prank know their audience. They know what the prankee will find funny and don’t do anything that will be too terribly inconvenient (or if it is inconvenient, at least relatively quick, like tearing down paper pictures in your shower).

        The last one maybe not so much, but since that was a prank on everyone in the office, at least it wouldn’t feel so personal.

    3. Nicotene*

      I think the general rule of work pranks is that nobody should be made to feel foolish (“haha you didn’t realize I was lying”), frightened (“everyone’s getting fired!”) or disappointed (“we’re all getting raises!”) – even if it’s aimed up, I would still say this. Minorly inconvenienced at best is the way to go. That’s why “wrap chair in saran wrap” qualifies IMO.

      That does rule out many pranks that might be fine between friends or family.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        I was the plastic wrap the office person, first example from Allison :)

        I’m pretty sure we helped the guy unwrap his office later in the day. Knowing your audience is key. We never would have done it if we didn’t know he’d love it.

      2. Al*

        I think your general rules are good for all pranks, not just at work. “Don’t make people feel bad on purpose” is a good guideline in all aspects of life!

    4. JustaTech*

      At my college the rule on pranks was that you had to say who had done the prank, and it had to be reversible within 24 hours.

      Personally, I think the best pranks are “sideways” or “up”, are more work for the pranker to do than the prank-ee to clean up, and (like the brownie one) have something nice in the end.

      Like, when my boss went out of town for a week we carefully covered his entire desk, chair and bookcase in Jolly Ranchers (which he loves). It took three of use maybe an hour to lay out each candy all neat and lined up, and it took him about 3 minutes to sweep everything into his candy bucket, and then he had Jolly Ranchers for a year.

      I should do that again.

      1. TootsNYC*

        It’s been a pipe dream of mine to buy jelly beans and bulk and pour them into every drawer on someone’s desk, filling them to the brim.

        If you’re not squeamish, you can dust off the jelly beans and eat them. Though wrapped candies would be best, of course. It’s just that there’s something relaly, really happy about piles and piles of jelly beans.

        1. Dasein9*

          There is!

          I have a fond daydream of taking two 5-gallon buckets full of rubber bouncy balls to the top floor of the Thompson Center in Chicago and pouring them over at once. (Wikipedia has a good picture of the interior.)

        2. Stackson*

          We received a shipment in last summer that was packed in lots and lots of those styrofoam packing peanuts. My team decided that we were going to save some… and fill up my boss’ desk drawers with them. We made sure he didn’t have any customer meetings that day and then went to work. Once he found them, he was really confused at first but then started laughing. He was a little frustrated toward the end of cleaning them all up because the desk drawers didn’t come out of his desk so he couldn’t just dump them into a trash can, but otherwise he seemed to have really enjoyed it.
          I slightly regret not helping him clean but it was really funny watching him try to scoop all of them out of his desk.

        3. it's-a-me*

          Oh god please don’t do this. I would freak out and at least 2 of my coworkers would too. Sticky! STICKY EVERYWHERE!

      2. TardyTardis*

        Since my husband was a teacher, we occasionally had our house TP’d–usually the two trees out front. We were seriously impressed by how high some of that stuff went at times, even if thrown. Fortunately, we live in a windy area so we never had to do anything about it. (last year, we laughed at the cartoon about the house which had been TP’d, and the caption said, “Yay, the house’s value just went up $10,000!”).

    5. Kaiko*

      My favourite prank this year was from my local library, who advertised their new “self check out station,” which turned out to be….a mirror. It was cute and I laughed.

  10. Aitch Arr*

    One year at a previous employer, I got a large framed photo of the CIO as a Yankee Swap/White Elephant gift.

    I proudly displayed it in my office and the ensuing reactions were hilarious.
    Many folks either didn’t notice it or assumed it was my dad or another family member!

    1. Aitch Arr*

      Hit send too soon!

      A few folks were like: “Uh, Aitch Arr, why do you have a large framed photo of $CIO in your office?” *blink*

    2. turquoisecow*

      One year for the department gift exchange, which was anonymous, the boss got a framed photo of her boss as the gift. Everyone thought it was hilarious and she put it in her office. And then the gifted gave her an actual gift in addition.

      1. Jzilbeck*

        One of my project teams does an annual holiday party and one year someone decided their contributed elephant gift would be a framed photo of a fellow cherished teammate. It was so random and yet all the guys fought over who ultimately got to keep it. So from then on, it became a tradition….that same teammate gets a photo of himself holding the previous year’s photo, that gets framed, and then it is presented as the elephant gift at the next holiday party. And yes they always fight over who keeps it. I asked one time why the guys do this and my team lead simply answered, “…cuz it’s awesome!”

        1. nonegiven*

          It should be a different teammate holding the last photo each year, so it can go on forever.

    1. AGD*

      I know, right? Anything like that would have made my day in preadolescence. Teachers being really good sports is such an effective way of scoring points with older kids.

    2. Lurkery*

      Aw, thanks! (I’m the poster who shared that story)

      You HAVE to have a good sense of humor and a thick skin to be successful at teaching middle school. You’d be eaten alive otherwise!

      1. Jennifer in FL*

        Absolutely! That’s why I teach preschool! Give me the 2-6 yr olds all day, every day. I’d rather chew my left arm off than work with middle schoolers. Middle School teachers are doing God’s work FOR REAL.

        1. Sami*

          I’m a middle school teacher. AND I used to be a preschool teacher. The ONLY difference is their height. Trust me. Completely lovable and banana crackers all at the same time.

          1. Lurkery*

            Can confirm — my own children were once preschoolers.

            The middle schoolers are a little stinkier though. Especially right after gym class…

  11. KHB*

    The tales from grad school made me think of one of mine. Nothing super legendary, but we had fun with it.

    A couple of the men in my lab liked to tell the story of how, a couple of years before my time, all the women in the lab happened to go to a conference at the same time, and the men left behind celebrated “male week.” (From what I understand, I think this mostly involved cranking up the air conditioner to the highest setting, watching action movies, and loudly burping a lot. Yeah, I don’t know either, but they sure liked to talk about it.)

    Years went by, and all those men graduated except for one, who was now the only man in the lab. So when he went to a conference, the rest of us had “female week,” where we bought a bunch of women’s magazines, cut out all the funniest stories, ads, and pictures, and decorated his desk with them.

  12. Abax*

    My hatred of word-art decor is well known. I don’t need letters in my kitchen that spell EAT-I know what a kitchen is for! And inspirational word-art is nails on a chalkboard for me. When I got back from a vacation, my cubicle was covered in inspirational words – most of it was various sizes of LIVE LOVE LAUGH which I was still finding months later, stuck on pens and hiding under my stapler and calculator and every time I would turn over my wall calendar to a new month, there it was: LIVE LOVE LAUGH! It was great.

    1. Aitch Arr*

      When we bought our house a couple of years ago, the previous owners had a Live Laugh Love decal over their bed in the master bedroom.

      Mr Aitch Arr and I removed all the letters but “augh” and took a photo of that.

      1. Le Sigh*

        Ha. I was once looking at apartments to rent and someone had put an enormous LLL wall decal going down the staircase wall. I looked at the real estate agent and asked, “Does this have to stay with the apartment or are the tenants taking that?”

        There is a lot I can abide by when renting, but wall decal word art is not one of those things.

    2. Jack Straw*

      In a recent gift exchange, a friend commented that she hated “inspirational sayings” and listed cake as her favorite sweet. I got them a framed cross stitch that looked like a “live laugh love” type saying but said: “I always carry a knife in my purse in case we have cake.”

        1. office peon*

          there are “improper cross stich” kids you can get online, they are really good….

    3. Miss V*

      I have a piece of art in my kitchen that, from a distance away, looks like small writing and you can only make out the word EAT.

      But upon closer inspection people realize it’s the quote ‘When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will EAT the rich’

      Makes me laugh every time when people get close enough to realize what it actually says

      1. Artemesia*

        my daughter got matching ‘eat the rich’ sweatshirts for herself and her Dad last Christmas. They look like ‘ugly Christmas sweaters with red and green reindeer and such and then the words ‘Eat the Rich’. This same child made us guillotine and dumpster fire felt ornaments in 2016.

  13. AndersonDarling*

    This was a complicated prank because it seemed to be good natured when presented, but no one really liked the guy and we took all our frustrations out on building the prank…
    We replaced a manager’s cube with cardboard. It started with someone rolling out his chair and replacing it with a cardboard box. Then someone built up the box with cardboard chair arms and a back so it looked like a whole cardboard chair. Then someone encased the pc monitor in cardboard and drew a monitor on it. Then someone replaced the stapler with a well crafted cardboard version.
    By the end of the day, the dozens of people who couldn’t stand the guy stopped by to craft a cardboard accessory and vent about what a prick the guy was. It was incredibly therapeutic for the department. There wasn’t a single spot of cube that wasn’t encased or replaced by cardboard. All of our frustrations and anger were manifested in cardboard.
    When the guy came back, he thought it was the funniest thing and was amazed at how everyone worked together and put in time to pull it off.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I am glad he reacted well to it! It is pretty hilarious and also clearly involved a lot of work!

  14. Anon for this*

    At the office I used to work out, my desk was decorated every year on my birthday and my office anniversary. Decorations ranged from covering everything in foil to covering every available inch of space with memes. One year they blocked off my cube and filled it with balloons. Our CFO’s birthday was just a couple of weeks after mine, so we saved a few of the balloons intending to dump them in his office after he left for the day. That was the ONLY day the entire time I worked there that he locked his door. We had someone crawl through the suspended ceiling, over his wall, and into his office to unlock the door. Then we (with the blessing of our COO) rented an air tank, bought a few hundred more balloons, filled his entire office, and relocked the door. The truly hilarious part was that he popped enough balloons to keep working and left the rest alone. It took weeks for them all to deflate.

    1. turquoisecow*

      We had the idea once to fill a vacationing coworker’s office with balloons but after some time spent blowing them up we realized that would have taken forever and so we just blew up maybe a dozen and stuck them under his desk. He came in thinking everything was fine and only when he went to sit down did he notice the balloons.

      Unfortunately he came in earlier than the rest of us so only one other person was able to witness his reaction.

      1. turquoisecow*

        Oh, and this was working for a fairly large retailer, so we had promotional materials all over the place. A month or so prior, baseball player Mike Trout had done some kind of frozen food promotion and there was a cardboard cutout of him that the stores would put up next to whatever it was he was promoting. We had one of these cutouts in the store, and he made the rounds of the office, sitting in the chairs of whoever was off that day. So with the balloon guy, we also stuck Mike Trout behind his desk and he initially thought that was all there was to the prank.

        To this day people don’t know why I find Mike Trout so funny.

    2. staceyizme*

      “We had someone crawl through the suspended ceiling….”. THAT seems like too much risk for the sake of a joke. If that person had fallen, the consequences could have been severe.

      1. Anon for this*

        Yikes! Should have been clearer about that. He crawled straight up through the ceiling and over the wall, not “crawled across a suspended ceiling” – that would not have happened.

    3. AnonThisTime*

      I think there was entrance via ceiling involved when a coworker was leaving the company.

      Someone made a cardboard barrier maybe 3 or 4 inches from the door, taped it in place, and filled the space in between with packing peanuts. Up to the top. You didn’t see the cardboard through the window by the door so it looked like perhaps the entire office was completely filled w/ packing peanuts. I was not there for the arranging of the prank but did see the opening of the door. It was much easier to clean up than he feared (and he didn’t have to do it himself).

      1. TardyTardis*

        At a church school, the dorm rooms all open to the inside (this is important). One morning, one door was highly decorated with a network of fish line with cute little lures interspersed. Whoever did must have done so in the middle of the night, because we got up *early*. (someone came by with scissors once it had been appreciated).

  15. BabeRoe*

    I worked at a resort. We had one room that had a damaged pipe outside the building that we had scheduled to get fixed (had to have the city involved, etc.) The head of the maintenance dept (Fred) came to me with a plan. I was the Asst. Manager. On April Fools Day I called the manager (Rick) on his cell phone and was sad that he didnt answer. I didnt leave a vm I just hung up and figured I would call back later. Everyone in the office knew what I was planning on doing. So when Rick did call back another person answered the phone and she very quickly played along that there was a big emergency and that I really needed to talk to him. I get on the phone and tell him that water pipe burst and that I cant get ahold of Fred and I dont know what to do. Then as if it were planned, two of my maintenance guys were at the office and they happened to hear me and they loudly added “Come on, its flooding, we can’t stop it!” Rick was freaking out! I told him that I will do what I can here but need him to call Fred. So he calls Fred and listens to Rick in a panic explaining what happened and trying to get ready to come in and Fred very calming says “do you know what that means?” Rick asked “What?” Fred said “That you’re an April Fool.”

  16. Smithy*

    I used to work for an office that would often do desk pranks when people went out of town. Covering the monitor in cellophane, covering a desk in artificial sweetener packets, etc.

    Ultimately I think it worked well because your desk was never pranked unless you joined the group to decorate a desk previously. More or less, it served as a “sign up” opportunity for those who had an enthusiastic enjoyment of the experience.

    1. BabeRoe*

      My desk was covered in Post-it notes. The. Whole. Desk. The monitor, the keyboard, the desk itself, the chair, if it was on my desk it was covered.

      1. And they all rolled over*

        I also got the post-its treatment. It was all done by one coworker. He was told at least once by the company president (his great-grandboss) to stop wasting time and post-its, but he finished the project despite the warning. I was still finding post-its a year after he left (quit, not fired).

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        See, that’s really the way to go to make it entertaining. My 7 year old put like 5 small Post-It notes on my desk chair this morning (WFH) and when I said “what’s this?” shouted “April Fools! I tricked you!”

        My kids’ interest in pranks far surpasses their ability to pull them off this year.

        1. Eat My Squirrel*

          You need to cover your 7 year old’s entire room with post its right now to show her how it’s done.

          1. Eat My Squirrel*

            *show them. Sorry, for some reason my brain thought there was a she pronoun in your post. My bad.

      1. Smithy*

        I saw one approach they took to a more senior staffer who sat behind me. I never would have felt comfortable with the theme they went with and didn’t take part. Overall, it was really well received and clear that the people involved were able to engage in friendly ribbing.

        While it was never a formal sign-up, I think what made it continue to be fun for people without becoming overly cliquish was that new staff were reached out to in a very low pressure way. Also, your desk wouldn’t get decorated unless you were a participant in a few decorating efforts. And lastly, one more senior member of the team was part of the overall “club”. Overall ideas were pretty squarely within PG Office Humor, but I think it helped give the sense of some guiderails as well as approval.

  17. Somewhat anon for this*

    Before I started at my workplace, they used to apparently be bigger into pranks, so I missed a lot. However, I do remember in my first couple months there, one guy was on vacation for a couple weeks. He had worked at the place for a long time, since he was pretty young, so some people had super awkward/funny photos of young twenty-something him. They wallpapered his entire cubicle in those photos.

    We also had a cardboard cutout of Bradley Cooper that randomly made its way into the office, and we started a tradition of leaving/hiding it in people’s offices for when they came back from vacation and/or for birthdays. The goal was to hide it so it couldn’t be seen immediately to cause a minor jump scare. (Everyone was perfectly fine with this – we had all worked together for years and knew each other.)

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      We had a cardboard cutout of a blown-up photo of a coworker who retired that hung around our office for several years! We dressed it up in Hawaiian shirts and so on. The coworker stuck around for a while too, doing consulting work. When he finally FULLY retired, I believe we sent the cutout home with him.

  18. Aitch Arr*

    We have a sitting area in our HR suite. There used to be a temporary cube there, so even though the cube is gone, the metal bracket for the name plate is still there.

    I bought a name plate that said “Time Out” and put it up.

    HR’s “Time Out” area has become a running joke.

    1. HugsAreNotTolerated*

      Honestly? There are days where if there was a “Time Out” area I’d go put myself in it just to have a few minutes of peace & quiet!

      1. Aitch Arr*

        People have been known to use it as such.

        “I’m going to go put myself in Time Out.”
        “Ok, see you in a bit.”

      2. TootsNYC*

        I had a friend whose approach to “time out” was to put themselves in “time out.”
        “If you don’t stop misbehaving, I’m going to go to time out!” And she’d go to her bedroom and lock the door.
        Once, she and her husband had snuck off to fool around oh so quietly behind a locked door, and suddenly there was their kid, sobbing outside the door, “I’ll be good, Mommy, I’ll be good.”

    2. ColdFeets*

      I really like that! We have cubes with felt-like covering on the walls… I’ll have to see if I can make some signs with Velcro on the back.

  19. Adrienne*

    I was the assistant to an academic department chair (STEM/University level) and for his 50th birthday some of the students who knew/loved him best and their counterparts amongst the faculty put life size cutouts of Big Bang Theory cast in his office w party hats, crepe papered the whole shebang, and rigged his door to play the Star Wars theme song when he opened it.
    It was a really fun way to start his birthday and he really liked it!

  20. Rage*

    Somebody brought a box of Cinnabon cinnamon rolls and left them out on one of the open cube desktops this morning.

    None of us know who did it. We are all suspicious and are refusing to sample the (admittedly innocent-looking) delicacies.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I texted my husband this morning telling him I had a cinnamon bun for him. (I then followed it up with a picture of our blonde younger dog, who has a tendency to curl up into a tiny ball and looks like a cinnamon bun when she does, and was doing so this morning in my lap which was EXTRA cute.)

      1. kittymommy*

        I think we’re going to need photographic evidence to see if she really is that cute…….. :)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          hah! She is in a couple of Alison’s pet coworker posts, though probably not fully cinnabunned :) Seek ye out Alannah Jane Sleepyface Corporal Radar Wigglebottom the Froshus!

  21. Aly*

    I was the person in the office who kept a candy jar. My office prank was to fill the jar with a mix of Reese’s pieces, M&Ms, and Skittles with a sign that said “Choose carefully.” Not technically a “prank” since it was obvious and completely voluntary, but a lot of people got a kick out of it — and I learned a lot about my coworkers that day. Most people groaned and very cautiously picked out only the candy they wanted. One person stared me dead in the eye, plunged their hand into the bowl, and ate whatever chaotic mixture they grabbed. I still fear and respect them.

    1. Former Young Lady*

      I am picturing the look on that last person’s face, and it’s awe-inspiring just to imagine it.

    2. MegS.*

      This was not a prank, but that story reminds me of the time I brought in a few containers of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans to have a taste test with a couple co-workers. They spent the rest of the week picking out the “normal” flavors to eat, and then on Friday afternoon, our scavenger boss unknowingly grabbed an handful of the “gross” flavors that were left and tossed them down the hatch without saying anything. We still have no idea how he felt about it or if he even noticed he was eating a mixture of black pepper, sausage, boogers, grass, etc.

      1. Thursdaysgeek*

        How do you tell them apart other than tasting them? I’ve tried, and the good ones and bad ones are identical pairs, except for taste. Some of the bad ones are ok, and others are instantly wretched.

      2. MagicEyes*

        At a long-ago job, I had a candy dish on my desk. My horrible ex-boss brought in a bag of Jelly Bellies. I was so excited when she whipped out this huge bag of my favorite jelly beans, until I tasted them. She somehow managed to pick out the three worst flavors. They weren’t Bertie Bott’s, but they should have been. One was a berry flavor that tasted like soap. Only one of the flavors was semi-edible, but it wasn’t that good. I didn’t even know Jelly Belly made flavors that tasted that bad. :-(

    3. Caitlin*

      People sticking their hands into candy jars is the most pre-covid thing I’ve heard all day.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        I’ve always found the communal dish that people stick their hands into disgusting. (Do not get me started about nuts and pretzels offered at bars, and blowing spit all over birthday cakes. Gah!) I only offered wrapped candy. I had nuts in a shaker bottle and put out paper cups so people could take some to go.

        I cannot tell you how many ex-coworkers contacted me post-Covid to say “I will never make fun of you again.”

        1. staceyizme*

          It’s true that Covid-19 has brought more attention to some details of communal living and celebration that in the Before Times.

        2. Mommachem*

          For my hubby’s birthday this past summer, he “blew” out his candles by lowering a balloon over them until it popped. With one “BANG! whoosh…”, all of the candles were instantly out!

          He may have been going for efficiency; our teenagers put a lot of candles on that cake.

    4. Can't Sit Still*

      Ewww! I don’t even like to eat different flavored of Skittles together, much less with chocolate and peanut butter. But your colleague is awesome, since I could never do that.

    5. Elenna*

      That is hilarious.
      (I would have gone with option C – grab a few pieces of whatever type, sort them in my hand, and then eat one by one. I like all those things, but not together!)

      1. Gumby*

        I sort that type of candy by color even if it’s all the same kind. I wouldn’t be able to sort in my hand, but I’d definitely be making 3 separate bar graphs at my desk.

        1. Hosta*

          Everyone knows M&Ms taste best when eaten all as one color. Or, everyone sensible does.

  22. Tom*

    My previous company had a long history of excellent pranks. We worked in a cubicle farm, and my cubicle was on a corner where two aisles met. When I showed up for my last day, my cubicle and everything in it was completely gone. The walls for the neighboring cubicles were still there, but the walls separating my cubicle from the aisles were gone, along with my desk, shelves, and *everything* else. It was so complete, I thought (despite working there for several years) that I was on the wrong aisle.

    Then I looked down, where they had used tape to write the computer command for removing a user’s home directory. The only other sign that a cubicle had ever been there was the wear pattern on the carpet.

    I miss those guys…

  23. Bob*

    That brownies one is really good, and you would get actual brownies at the end which makes it awesome.

    1. AlsoTeacher*

      Seriously – I might steal that one for a future April Fool’s Day, although I’d have to really strategize about where to put the brown Es in my current workplace (no break room). I guess I can probably come up with something in a year!

  24. Amber Rose*

    One of our staff was away on vacation so we turned her office in a Harry Potter wonderland. I even figured out how to piece a giant image of that photo lady who guards the door to the rooms on her office door. We hung house banners, turned white chocolate Lindors into golden snitches and hung those up, and lightly covered pictures of her kids with the Main Trio. But the best part of that one was that we used a slightly creepy picture of Dobby the house elf to cover a hole in her ceiling, which gave her a bit of a jump scare when she found it. xD

    It was so fun.

    1. Frank Doyle*

      Ooh, I like that one because you’re going to use the pranking material after the prank is over! A lot of these are making me cringe because they’re just . . . filling an office with trash, basically. Wasting plastic and post-its and balloons (ugh balloons).

      1. allathian*

        Yup, I agree. I’ve also never understood the American tradition of throwing confetti at parties, sporting events, or parades. Such senseless waste. Admittedly I don’t like fireworks much either, a lot of trash and the gunpowder smell can linger for days unless it’s windy. Not to mention that explosive devices can be very dangerous.

      2. TechWriter*

        The post-it notes are still reusable, if you aren’t picky about them being in a perfect stack.

  25. starsaphire*

    Pranks at our office are pretty strictly limited to “cubicle decoration, harmless” and we run the gamut of crepe paper, balloons, zillions of crumpled pieces of scratch paper, tinfoil… mostly recycled/recyclable. I love it because the last company I was with was so toxic that people who sat next to one another didn’t even speak to each other, so I threw myself all in and took a turn on the birthday committee.

    On my watch, I threw a surprise tea party for a co-worker – tiny finger sandwiches, little handmade chocolates, the special three-tiered tea plate, the works – and it was just the BEST. She loved it, and everyone just raved.

    That’s my only real “prank” story but I’m down for reading all the good ones!

  26. Thursdaysgeek*

    Back in the 90s, I had acquired an old workstation from 1974. It was top of the line and a monstrosity: I heard it had cost $17K, and it was a desk with an embedded keyboard, a very little monitor type thing set into the desk with angled mirrors (so it didn’t poke up much above the desk), a printer on the left side of the desk, an 8″ floppy drive with floppies, and documentation folders (including ones with employee records that had names and SSNs).

    My co-worker, who was a bigger geek than I, went on vacation. While he was gone, I borrowed a truck and took this to the office. My other co-workers and I removed his computer, removed his desk, and put this in their place.

    When he returned, he was delighted. (I was giving it to him, which made it better). He wasn’t interested in his real computer – he was starting to boot this old monstrosity.

  27. Jack Straw*

    This happened back in the early 2000, so it may not work as well in 2021, but it was GLORIOUS to watch unfold.

    Kyle walked away from his desk, leaving his computer unlocked. Joe took a screenshot of the desktop and saved it. Next, Joe pulls the photo file up, goes into full screen view mode, and locks the computer. Cue Kyle coming back, unlocking his computer, and attempting to click on the icons and files in photo. Kyle called IT, and they couldn’t troubleshoot it over the phone (no screen sharing back then). IT person comes to the physical work location and still can’t figure it out. Finally, Joe confesses and hilarity is enjoyed by all.

    1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      Similar vein – coworker left his laptop unlocked (stupid move). We set up something in his Word dictionary to automatically correct the word “and” to something unprintable that did not start with an “A” and was four letters long. He was in the office for the day and in general was very routine bound, and his routine was to type out his daily report that I wound up getting anyways. No harm, no foul if I managed to get my hands on an obscenity riddled daily report. (Nope, he did not report to me. Just happened that the daily reports all came to me.)

      This started six months of ridiculousness, to everyone’s delight!

      1. TootsNYC*

        I did this back in the XyWrite days; I learned how to program keyboards, and I fixed several people’s startup routines so that when they typed “A”, they got “April Fool’s.” (but only the capital letter; not the lowercase).
        So they did get their capital A, but they had to backspace over the other stuff. And they all knew it was me, so they called as soon as they got it, and it was easy for me to take off.

      2. Chas*

        A fellow PhD student once left her computer unlocked while she was working on a presentation, and the guy sitting next to her desk decided to add one instance of the word ‘boob’ to her presentation as a joke for when she came back… Except she didn’t notice it until she was showing said presentation to our supervisor and he asked her why it said ‘mutant boob protein’ on the slide (especially since we didn’t do any work related to breast tissue).
        Luckily he was a pretty laid back supervisor, so it was just a minor embarrassment for her, and everyone in that group of students learnt to make sure we locked our computers even if we trusted the people sat around us.

    2. JustaTech*

      At my spouse’s old startup they had a terrible time getting people to lock their computers properly. So it was decided (among peers) that if you left your computer unlocked then anyone who saw that was *obligated* Bieber you.
      First offence: “you” would announce on the office Slack that you love Justin Bieber.
      Second offence: your desktop background would be changed to a picture of Justin Bieber.
      Third offence: your computer would randomly play Justin Bieber’s music. Loudly.

      Only one guy got all the way to the third offence, but he never really learned his lesson that you need to lock your computer.

  28. Alex*

    I took a month off of work to travel in a different country. Taking a month off was VERY unusual so people made a big deal about it, although it was totally allowed and I had accrued the vacation time.

    When I returned, my coworkers had plastered my desk area with pictures of American flags, and “USA! USA!” banners. They had also swiped the key to my filing cabinet, put all my personal items in there, and prepared a treasure hunt for me to find the key.

    It made me feel like they missed me.

  29. On a pale mouse*

    A team lead had been pushing his team about making sure everything (servers, cables, etc.) was properly labeled. While he was on vacation, they labeled everything in his office. Mouse. Mouse pad. Windowsill. Ceiling tile. Light fixture. Pencil. Bookshelves (numbered). It was pretty funny and no one was harmed or upset. (I do hope they replaced the label tape – that stuff is expensive.)

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      I was remembering this morning that in college someone went around to all the little labels on the campus plants (the campus was an arboretum) and taped over them with labels that said “tree” and “bush” and the like.

      1. detaill--orieted*

        I went to a school that was an arboretum! And that is brilliant and hilarious! (And I am learning this idea decades too late.)

      2. SarahKay*

        You saying that just reminded me of a label ‘redesign’ I saw at university. It was back in the nineties, and there were “No Smoking” signs in most of the indoor areas. These were orange vinyl stickers with white printing, about six inches wide and 4 inches high. (There were also very occasional green ones saying Smoking Permitted.) I was chatting with a group of friends and suddenly one of them stopped talking and stared very hard at what we had all assumed was the usual no smoking sign.
        As we all followed his gaze we realised it had been very cleverly altered and now read: “No wanking”!
        (For US / Canadian readers: in the UK to wank means to pleasure oneself). As far as I know, it still said that when we all graduated two years later.

    2. CV*

      Oh, that reminds me of one of my retail stories!
      I worked as a cashier and pens were worth their weight in gold (this was when you had to sign the credit card slip). I stuck bright orange labels on our pens that said “cash” hoping it would at least keep the other staff from walking off with them (nothing you can do with a light-fingered customer except catch them in the act).
      When I came to work the next morning, everything at the cashier’s station had a bright orange “cash” label – the counter, the till, the phone, the monitor, the keyboard, the anti-fatigue mat, every single security tag… our Assistant Manager had made the most of a slow night.

      1. JustaTech*

        Whoever first taped a fake flower to the end of a pen at a cashier’s desk was brilliant and should be recognized for their contributions to society.

  30. Collarbone High*

    A field associate called into our main office, misunderstood the receptionist’s greeting and thought he was talking to “Wanda,” who he assumed was a new employee. He only came into the main office about once a month and would always ask to meet her. We made up a series of elaborate excuses – she only works part time, she’s at the dentist today, you just missed her, etc. He even commented once that she didn’t seem very reliable. This went on for about a year until the office manager got bored with it and told him that Wanda quit because she wasn’t getting enough hours.

    (We eventually told him the truth and he thought it was hilarious, and it remained a running joke for years.)

    1. All Zoomed out and nothing to throw*

      This is the office version of Captain Tuttle from M*A*S*H.

  31. JMR*

    This IS a prank gone wrong, but not in a mean way, so I’m including it. I worked in a lab at a university where the parking situation around the medical center was terrible. The administration had no problem selling parking passes to whoever wanted one even though there were several hundred fewer parking spaces than there were passes issued. And those cost $600 a pop! As a post-doc earning around $32K/year,, I had to pay $600 to park *at my own job.* I am still mad. Anyway, if you wanted a good parking space, you had to be at work before 7:30, and if you wanted a parking space at all, you had to be at work before 8:30 at the latest. One morning around 10, our boss texted us to say that he hadn’t been able to find a parking space, given up, and gone home, and he’d see us tomorrow. For some reason, I thought this was the funniest thing ever. A few months later, I decided that a great prank April Fools’ prank would be for us to all separately text him that we hadn’t been able to find a parking space and were going home. I knew he would get the joke after the 2nd or 3rd text, so it wasn’t even like he’d believe it for that long. Well, somehow the message got a bit garbled, and the first woman who texted him told him that she had gotten in a car accident and was in the ER, and she wouldn’t make it in that day! Fortunately, she told us about it immediately, so we let the boss know she was fine before he had a chance to freak out. We aborted the plan and cancelled all pranks thereafter.

    1. PostalMixup*

      …did we work at the same university medical center? I always hated having an 8am dentist appointment, getting in before nine, and having to park on the roof of the garage. The elevator didn’t even go to the roof!

        1. Snuck*

          Pretty much for Western Australia. If you get there before 830 you’ll probably get a spot. If you leave it until after 9am you will drive around for at least half an hour waiting for some one to leave a tute. If you leave it until 10 you might as well catch a bus to uni.

    2. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      Oh man, I think I may have worked at this same university eons ago! I was lucky enough that the “Orange” ($100) tags were physically very, very, very close to my actual location, instead of a commuter bus ride away! My roommate needed a “Blue” tag for her job at the medical campus, and she could have written this one!

      1. A Library Person*

        I might work at this university too (we use the same colors)! For a couple of years I worked at a similarly sized institution (think large land grant types) that had a parking lot for the very building I worked in and it was so strange to me after living here for so long.

  32. Southern Academic*

    I count myself in the “likes pranks” category, but I would be uncomfortable w/ lots of pictures of a dissertation advisor around, especially replacing (???) pictures w/ an SO. I have a great advisor, but tons of pictures of them feels like a weird and skeevy take on that relationship.

    1. Jack Straw*

      I find this type of prank is fairly common.

      A group of friends did it in HS with the English teacher we loved — plastered his photo all over the dorms and buildings at band camp. We knew he always came to camp at the end of the week with a group to watch the final performance–he loved it.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        In my last job people plastered the walls of one coworker with photos of the UK soap opera character Ian Beale.

  33. Dust Bunny*

    My former supervisor had one of those tabletop sand gardens (with a tiny rake, etc.).

    I bought a large bead shaped like a human skull at a craft sale and nestled it among the rocks.

    It took him about two weeks to notice but he thought it was pretty funny.

    It turned into a running thing: Every once in awhile something else would show up. A small tractor, a picnic made of food-shaped Japanese novelty erasers, a rattlesnake, etc.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        My brother had one, too, but he put it away, which was monumentally too bad because he’s an archaeologist and I was absolutely going to make a tiny sifting screen and tuck it in there with some dollhouse plate fragments and a little trowel. I’m hoping he’ll get it out again once his kids are old enough to leave it alone.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I read a memoir in which the writer goes to a therapist who has one of those kinds of gardens with all kinds of odd and unusual tiny little items to put in it, as a way to prompt clients to talk about things.

    2. kitryan*

      There was a similar running gag going at a my former workplace. I worked in the costume shop at a repertory theater and while putting a batch of costume props away I found a small frame in a purse. I put it on the bookshelf in my office. As we were a costume shop, we got all kinds of catalogs – western wear, dance supplies, equestrian supplies, international male, Vermont country store…
      Periodically, one of the other staff would trade out the generic pic in the frame for something odd from one of the catalogues. A horse, a creepy smiling couple in long johns, whatever- the weirder the better. Then they’d see how long it took for me to notice the changeover.
      They also put a sign on my door that was a picture of a polar bear saying ‘Why does Kitryan hate me?’ – because I’d told one of those canvassers that accosts you on the sidewalk that I hated all living things (I was trying to come up with something that covered all the bases for whatever they were going to ask so I could get past to get my lunch).

  34. OrangeMelon*

    Mine is fairly tame: a departement supervisor just arrived early and stuck pictures of cute kittens with cute messages on the optical reader of every computer mouse in the office.
    Every. One. Of. Them.

    It was well received!

  35. Jack Straw*

    I taught high school for years, and one of the best senior pranks was when the students took the classroom for every senior teacher and made the front of the classroom the back.

    Everything that could be moved was, and was recreated to the letter, including plants, carts, etc. The classrooms were set up EXACTLY as they were before, just facing the opposite direction. Some teachers had their first period class move things back, but most just went with it and taught from the opposite side of the room that day.

    1. NotMyRealName*

      A friend and I did something similar, we had one teacher who was very fussy about the layout of the desks in his room. The room had a retracting wall with the next room, so we got the teacher with that room to let us through the wall and we rotated all the desks by 90 degrees.

    2. BubbleTea*

      Ha, this reminds me of something we did at school! We had two classrooms next to each other, identical except one had an extra window, with a door between them for some reason. Our teacher had to go to the other side of the school to fetch some photocopying and the entire class moved to the corresponding desk in the next room.

      He was totally unfazed – came back to the empty room, heard us next door, came in through the corridor door and continued teaching. Nicely handled!

    3. All Zoomed out and nothing to throw*

      I remember that prank from my high school! A couple weeks later, they pranked the same teacher again, only this time they moved the entire classroom–down to every portable detail–to the breezeway outside the classroom door. The teacher taught class outside for the rest of the day. It was beautiful.

    4. Snuck*

      We did a version of this for an end of year prank. Outside the typing room (shows you how old I am :P ) there was an undercover roof… so all the desks, chairs and type writers went out and were set up on the roof, just like the classroom, except through sash windows.

      The typing teacher was not impressed, but this was looooooong before CCTV cameras, and nothing was damaged, so they just rounded up a bunch of ‘volunteers’ from the finishing year to ‘fix it’. No harm, no foul, and the typing teacher was a grumpy old coot before this anyway, so no surprises there. One of the lessor pranks (the more annoying ones were things like Vegemite on the stair handrails, glad wrap under toilet seats (but over bowls), and choc milk balanced in the top of lockers so as you opened them they’d pour over all your books).

  36. IndustriousLabRat*

    I brought in magnetic PLEASE BE PATIENT – STUDENT DRIVER bumper stickers for the forklifts this morning- results pending.

    1. IndustriousLabRat*

      One of them has escaped the confines of the factory floor, and has been making its way around the parking lot all day, ending up on various managers’ cars. I’m still waiting to see who actually drives home with it.

        1. Nobody's Fool*

          Cleaning out the house, I found one of those Student Driver magnetic signs lying around years after my kids had gotten their licenses. The next time I visited my hometown for Christmas, I stayed with my younger brother as usual. He’s now the police chief, but at the time was a shift captain. It being a small town, they only had like 3 patrol cars, and at the end of a shift they would drive to the houses of the next officers and pick them up, and then get dropped off at their own house, rather than everyone driving to the station and leaving their POV there for eight hours. When first shift came by the alley behind his house to pick him up and turn over the car, I went out and slapped it on the back of the patrol car. He apparently drove around for hours with it there, as it was 10 below and he didn’t get out of the car if he didn’t have to.

          1. Self Employed*

            I have no idea what I’d do with a magnetic bumper sticker. My car has aluminum body panels and plastic bumpers (with aluminum reinforcements).

  37. Richard Simmons*

    One time a coworker told me she’d listened to the podcast Missing Richard Simmons. The gist was that Richard Simmons, the 80s dance fitness instructor, hadn’t been seen in public for years, so some people thought he’d vanished. So of course I printed out some pictures of Richard Simmons and hid them all around her cubicle. I even managed to get a few pictures in her backpack and purse, which she found weeks later. The best part is that every picture of Richard Simmons is bizarre in and of itself, so it’s a guaranteed laugh.

  38. Chelle*

    I travel frequently with coworkers, and we’re always supposed to lock our computers when we walk away from them, but some people are less careful than others. I’ve become a master of changing someone’s autocorrect quickly–but only things they will notice right away, like the person’s name to “Name, who needs to be more careful with his computer” And then of course I show them how to fix it when I hear them react :)

    1. Sworge*

      We had this same rule. Our favorite prank was rotating the offender’s desktop 90 degrees. Taught a lot of people how to adjust their desktop settings.

  39. Secret Identity*

    So I just got finished programming everyone’s phone extension to a different name. I took a bit of time thinking of nicknames that everyone would find funny or charming – no mean names. So our payroll person became Payroll Queen, another person is the name of their favorite 80’s band, etc.
    Nothing that could be construed as mean. :)

  40. JenK*

    I had a huge snail shell displayed on my desk (given to me by my friend’s kids). I came in to work one day to find a “For Rent” sign at the opening of the shell. A few days later, the sign changed to say “Rented” and a wee little cat made of BluTack/mounting putty had moved in.

  41. Ann Perkins*

    I’ve worked in one office where good natured pranks were frequent. I had bought the annoy-a-tron device at one point and that got passed around in various hiding spots, set on the cricket noise. Another favorite was that we would find random absurd news stories (think “Florida man evades arrest by cartwheeling away from cops” type stories) and swap out the name and picture with a colleague’s and post it in the breakroom.

    1. Jack Straw*

      When I was teaching, my last class of the day always took my timer (which I used religiously), set it to go off about 10 minutes after the bell, and then hid it in the classroom. The first time they stuck around to make sure I found it and laughed, but it became such a habit that on the days they forgot I was always disappointed.

  42. Can'tUseMyUsual*

    I worked at a company run by a married couple as co-CEOs. There was something of a personality cult about them from the old-timers. There were also a lot of bizarre rules that new employees were told — no Post-It notes, coffee in tiny cups, no personal items on your desk except for two pictures of family or pets in specific kinds of frames etc. A month or so after I started working there I was visiting a center in another state and was sitting in a colleague’s office and I noticed that he had a framed picture of the co-CEOs on his credenza — think of the cheesiest, cheapest photo of your grandparents circa 1980 and that was the picture. My colleague saw me notice the picture and he explained that another employee (Fergus) had started the same day as I had and their department had told Fergus (amongst all of the other rules) that it was a company requirement that every employee had to have that stupid picture of the co-CEOs , so their department put that picture on everyone’s desk in the department (including Fergus’s desk). It took Fergus nearly five months to figure out out that displaying that picture wasn’t a requirement, and he only figured it out when he asked another department why they didn’t have their pictures of the co-CEOs displayed and they looked at him like he was nuts. It still makes me laugh.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      LOL! So were the other weird rules for real, or were they also made up to mess with younger staff (because the no post it note rule would really cause issues for me! Some people use planners. I use post it notes to know what is going on!)?

      1. Can'tUseMyUsual*

        Well, they were real insofar as they had been expressly stated by the wife-CEO and the company did not stock Post-Its. That one was largely ignored though — when I would hire someone new, as part of the onboarding I would say, “By the way, Post-It Notes aren’t allowed,” and I would open my desk drawer and hand them stacks of Post-Its. People did keep personal items on their desks, and did have more than one item on their desk at a time (another “rule” was that the only item you could have on your desk was the item you were using at the moment). People DID follow the rule about not hanging anything in their office other than the art provided by the company (if you were senior, you got to chose your art!) and in the common areas followed the silly rule about the blinds being down and partially closed at at 45-degree angle, but most of the other rules were ignored unless word came around that wife-CEO would be on the floor. In fact, the day I started she was going to be on my floor and my office was FULL (like could barely get the door open) of all the contraband that people had to move out of their own offices for the day.

  43. CatCat*

    I worked in an office where we oversaw certain highly regulated and hazardous operations. We had some balloons leftover from an event. One of my colleagues took some of the balloons to his office, sucked in the helium to get his voice squeaky, and then called one of our colleagues to report a big leak at “a helium mine.”

    Our colleague immediately knew it was a prank and everyone in the vicinity of the prankster was dying laughing. The one pulling the prank managed to carrying on reporting some details of “the helium disaster” before he could no longer keep it together either.

    1. Buni*

      We had a few helium balloons left after a Do in our church once. One of our hugest, deepest Bass choir singers took a lungful and went “Look at me! I’m a tenor! I’m a tenor at last!”.

  44. DreddPirate*

    The TAs and Associate Professors in the Philosophy department at my alma mater played a great prank on the Department Chair. (I didn’t personally witness this prank, but heard about it through the grapevine a day or two after it occurred.)
    The weekend prior to April 1st, they took his name off of all the signage, took the door off of his office and moved his desk, filing cabinets etc. out and set up a coffee maker, microwave, and minifridge to turn it into a breakroom, then convinced everyone on the floor to gaslight him to believe that they had never heard of him. The prank lasted about an hour before someone got the giggles and gave it away.

  45. Another Proj Manager*

    Two jobs ago the Co-Ops at the time started a prank war.
    First is was completely covering a cube and it’s contents with post it notes.
    The response was to cover the others desk with little Dixie cups and fill them up with water.
    Both were funny but management had to remind people that the purpose of work was to work and not play pranks. I am assuming that there were some “conversations” about appropriate uses of work time.

  46. a*

    My husband and I met at work. He had a family photo on his desk of himself with his 4 sisters (not sure why his brother wasn’t in the photo). One of our coworkers took the photo and replaced each of his sisters’ faces with his face. The best part about it was that he and 3 of his sisters have the same face shape, so you couldn’t really tell the difference. He was not quite as amused by that prank as the rest of us were.

    I came back from vacation once to find that my coworkers had cut plastic tablecloths into streamers and then hung them from the ceiling like a series of flags across the length of my cubicle. I took down the middle few and for the next couple years, I had a plastic privacy screen/door for my cubicle.

  47. Ray Gillette*

    Before we all went remote, our office provided free beverages – sparkling water, energy drinks, the like. One coworker was never seen without a can of Red Bull in his hand, so for several weeks leading up to the prank we saved every Red Bull box we could get our hands on. I stashed them in my cube. At one point, the target even noticed what I was doing, brought me a box, and asked why I was saving them. I said “Uh… recycling?” and he didn’t question it.

    One morning I brought the whole team in early and we spent a good 45 minutes covering his entire cube and all his office equipment in the Red Bull boxes. Despite having seen me collect the boxes for weeks and contributing to the collection himself, somehow he was still completely surprised (this may have been why he was the one we decided to prank). He loved it and even took a picture of himself sitting at the desk to post on social media.

  48. NotSoAnon*

    Oh my office loves pranks (those in good fun, not mean spirited pranks). My boss, president of our company, has an especially good sense of humor so we pull lots of pranks on him.

    Here are a few of my favorites:
    – we have a big chalk wall that because I like to draw and am a part time artist, will usually do a seasonal message with our company logo. Well for the holidays this past year, since it was just a handful of us in office due to covid, I drew up a big giant mural of my boss chilling on a desert island, Santa hat on, sipping a cocktail, with a turkey surfing a wave. I change his little speech bubble to all of his catch phrases and change his outfit. My boss loves flannel and his tiny little dog so those of course make an appearance as well. He loved it! Instantly cracked up and it makes him smile every time he sees it. People will change the phrase in the bubble randomly which I love. Our ceos both thought it was hilarious and requested next time I change it that I add all of them in as well.

    – President above has a fear of gnomes, yes really. Our HR director happens to love gnomes and has many of them. Boss man goes on vacation like never, so when he finally took a vacation for a week and we all went into his office, decorated everything with flannel (see above) and like a bajillion flannel covered gnomes. He shrieked (high pitched), laughed, and said “if someone doesn’t take these g** d*** gnomes out of my office I’m going back on vacation”. We did, but he left the flannel decor up for like 6 months.

    – every birthday on my team (I always ask my employees favorite colors when they are hired) we completely cover their cube in streamers, balloons, cling wrap, to the point that the cube is essentially useless. Everyone loves it and they usually leave it up all week. One time we wrapped every single thing ok the desk (desk included) in holographic wrapping paper which was awesome.

    We like to have fun! If someone ever told me they didn’t like that kind of stuff I would respect their wishes and we wouldn’t do it. But everyone seems to really enjoy these fun little jokes and it’s kind of a bonding thing with our teams.

      1. NeonFireworks*

        I briefly worked with Chuck Sambuchino on a little project but had completely forgotten he wrote this!

    1. On a pale mouse*

      Everything wrapped in holographic wrapping paper? I am swooning over here. I would want that anyway, but probably wouldn’t do it myself out of fear it would be too unprofessional. So if someone did it for me, that would be too perfect.

      1. NotSoAnon*

        She loved it too! It was pretty high quality wrapping paper so she left it on (not the screens but pretty much everything else) for something like a month when it started ripping.

        I miss that. I’ve been home since October and the shenanigans in the office is the thing I miss most. Really lightens the mood.

  49. TiffIf*

    This was for a birthday instead of April Fools day:
    Co-Workers birthday was coming up so we wrapped his monitor and key board in gift wrap and then sprinkled Happy Birthday confetti around the office and UNDER the chair mat. A year later when we moved buildings there was still Happy Birthday confetti stuck to the bottom of the chair mat.

  50. Lorena*

    The IT Manager at my old work changed all the ring tones on the office phones to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give you Up” – was hilarious and we all got Rick-rolled that day!

  51. Former Young Lady*

    The first “office job” I ever worked was in the ticketing office of a regional theatre, and the pranks were always good-natured. Over-the-top decorations for people’s birthdays were a specialty, and I felt appreciated when I got the treatment for mine (right after the New Year, so it has a tendency of getting ignored).

    We had one guy who was fond of getting onto other people’s computers and doing half-assed MS Paint perversions of their custom PC wallpaper. My coworker’s hairless Sphynx cats had lasers shooting out of their eyes one morning; another day I logged on to find that a young William Shatner had replaced the drummer in my favourite band.

  52. LadyDisdain*

    My husband’s former boss had the all time best office prank.

    One of his reports loved LaCroix, and he would sneak additional cans into her case of it to see how long it took her to notice that her sparkling water supply never ran out.

    It ended up going on for MONTHS, with everyone speculating on if she really hadn’t noticed for that long… It went on for so long that essentially became a reverse prank with her pranking everyone else that she hadn’t noticed.

    No one gets hurt, no one gets embarrassed, and the “victim” of the prank gets free water.

    1. Jaydee*

      So, sometimes the store runs out of a particular flavor. Did the boss ever have to refill with a different flavor than what the employee’s case said? Like the case was Peach Pear but they were out of that when boss went to the store so he got Apricot instead and figured “well, this is the week she’ll notice for sure” but then she didn’t?

      1. Jaydee*

        I say this because I think I would legitimately not notice right away unless it were a flavor I’m not fond of.

        1. Mental Lentil*

          I am with you on this one. I would just think “what is wrong with this can of LaCroix? It tastes awful!”

          And then I would look at the can and realize it was a different flavor, but one I actually liked, and be like “Oh, gosh, I love this flavor!”

          1. LadyDisdain*

            Eventually yes, the flavor started changing. But that was well into the “It’s been eight months, she has to have noticed now, right? …right?”

            1. Jaydee*

              Oh wow! I’m pretty oblivious, but I like to think I’d have questioned the bottomless La Croix case well before the 8 month mark.

  53. Narise*

    Best work place prank I pulled was to add fluffy mustaches to a coworkers cats. She had calendar cats, figurines on her desk, cat paperweights. They all had mustaches!

    Best prank I played on my husband, April fools day I sewed the fly shut on a pair of his boxers. He didn’t realize it until he was standing in a men’s bathroom.

  54. aunttora*

    I worked at a law firm that had a wonderful culture — anyone who worked there will definitely recognize it! Sadly it did not survive the Great Recession. Every year when the partners went out of town for their annual meeting, the summer associates would “prank” one of their offices. One year they built a putting green in a golfer’s office, including sod. He loved it, and would have kept it except — bugs. Another year a partner who had been advocating for what we now know as “office of the future” (puke) had his corner office walls removed and replaced with cube walls. (Yes, this required actual construction workers.) One year it was a “Survivor” theme (we had a Survivor contestant as a summer associate), which included bringing in a pig and a chicken for the day. The chicken laid an egg, and the pig escaped his pen. One of my fondest memories of that place was watching attorneys chase a pig down the hallway, on the 60th floor of a VERY fancy building. But my FAVORITE was one of the last years, or possibly the last ever. A partner had decided to change firms, there was a going away party and everything. His office was reassigned, as was his secretary. Over the weekend after his last day, he had a change of heart, called the office and asked to rescind his resignation. For the prank that year, the summers took the entire budget and bought all the flip-flops they could, and filled his office. It was glorious! Funny, but kind of mean. Anyone recognizing these pranks will probably remember others.

    1. aunttora*

      Oh man just remembered another one — one year artistic folks spent quite a bit of time making funny art. Some of it was spectacular — riffing on an existing piece of art in the office, or including images of some of the attorneys. One included a toilet seat. You have to understanding, this office had a very eccentric artistic sensibility and some incredible stuff — at the time of dissolution there was a major auction. For the prank, all the real art was taken off the walls and replaced with this homemade art. It was so amazing. I miss that place.

  55. Mental Lentil*

    I just realized why Alison is talking about pranks today. Sometimes I am just plain dumb. *sighs in tired*

    1. JustaTech*

      A friend posted on FB this morning this big long thing about how he’s going to divinity school, and *30 people* were all “Congrats!”

      And I’m like, “wait, didn’t you say you were running for county office on this exact date 3 years ago?”

  56. Malarkey01*

    Our boss, one of the best, was being transferred. She had a big office absolutely full of stuff. We moved all of it down to the main auditorium over the weekend and recreated the setup down to the stacks of paper, equipment, markers on the desk. We then filled her office with over a thousand balloons. It took her a few minutes to figure out the room was empty of all her stuff it was so filled with balloons. Then she spent the rest of the day working from the auditorium. She loved it, and it really helped her see what she needed to pack and what could go into the dumpster.

  57. First Time Commenter*

    I’m a graphic designer and at my old office one coworker was in charge of all the prepress for our files. He often had designers sit at his desk while he did touch-up work, which always lead to a lot of gesturing and pointing. After we got new high-gloss monitors, the fingerprints on his screen got out of control and he put a BIG sign on his monitor telling people DO NOT TOUCH. Everyone in the art department also had neutral gray backgrounds, which were locked by IT admin, to help limit image color shift issues.

    I asked IT to change his neutral background to a gray screen with fingerprints Photoshopped all over it for April Fools. They did one better– they took the actual glass off his monitor, smudged it like crazy, and put it back with the fingerprints on the inside. I was out for a meeting when this all went down, but apparently he tried to scrub his screen for quite a while before asking IT for some heavy-duty cleaning solutions since someone had completely gunked up his screen. There were plenty of laughs and thankfully the promised revenge to me never materialized. I haven’t worked in too many different offices, but it seems like IT is the best department to help execute office pranks.

  58. FrauBlucher*

    My husband has a thing about touching his computer screen. Your finger can NEVER touch the screen, and he is ALWAYS scolding people at work for doing it. Before we were married, when we were working together, for April fool’s day, a bunch of us put a thin layer of vaseline on our hands and put our handprints all over his iMac screen. He was horrified, and as retaliation, he made the HR woman email us all saying that we were all going to be written up (which we believed, but turns out it was also a prank). It was harmless and preyed on his biggest pet peeve – a true success.

  59. bunniferous*

    I am going back more than fifty years for this one….happened to my dad at work-a place notorious for pranks. He always used to take a sandwich for lunch every day-in the traditional lunch box. So, one day after work, he comes in, yells for mom and me to come to the kitchen-with absolutely no explanation, he insists we stand there and watch him open up his lunchbox to expose his uneaten sandwich. So with mom and me standing there bewildered, he flings open the lunchbox to reveal…..his ham sandwich. The one he left the house with that morning. Whereupon he starts sputtering…..

    …you see, earlier in the day, at lunch, he had opened his lunchbox and what was inside was-a sardine sandwich. Now what had really happened is his coworkers had swapped out his sandwich. But what he assumed was Mom had actually sent him to work with a sardine sandwich. Much ranting ensued. He slammed the lunchbox shut in disgust….whereupon those same coworkers stealthily switched the sandwich back.

    Dad, assuming he had a bone to pick with mom, decided to come home, make me, a child, witness the display of the sandwich abomination, instead, displayed his original, harmless, ham sandwich.

    It took him a minute, while mom and I were looking at him as if he had lost his last marble.
    He kept sputtering something about a sardine sandwich, and it took us awhile to get the lunch story out of him. We finally figured out what had happened-I think someone at work confessed.

    I don’t remember what he did to get back at them but I assure you revenge was taken.

    To this day all anyone in the family has to do is mention sardine sandwich and we all get a fit of giggles.

  60. Slinky*

    Along the lines of the photo stories, when I was interning years ago, my supervisor opened a binder and found a post-it on a divider that had “divider” written on it. She started laughing and then explained. Years before, she’d spent a year in Spain. Her colleagues had joked that she would forget how to speak English in that time, so they papered all of her stuff with post-its with English words written on them to “remind” her what they were called. Apparently, they blanketed every surface in her office and told her she’d be finding them for years. Years later, that proved true!

  61. Not playing your game anymore*

    I was in charge or ordering and setting up pcs before sound cards were really common in computers, we were under a directive that we couldn’t “add on” sound cards. Eventually the cards became a standard feature. The first batch of 1/2 dozen computers with sound came in late in March. I knew what I had to do. I set up the computers and changed the “ding” to an animal sound, one computer baa’d, mine barked, another one moo’d and so on. I held back the speakers until everyone had left for the day on March 31st. I placed the speakers so they’d be hard to spot turned the volume up and went home. Came in to an office full of people who were convinced that their new PCs were possessed or maybe had some sort of exotic virus…

  62. Reality Check*

    During the 2016 election, two of my coworkers were rooting for opposite candidates. Neither was afraid to tell the other that they thought they were “out to lunch” for favoring the candidate they did. They had some very lively debates… One day while Coworker A really was at lunch, Coworker B slipped into their office and LOADED it with campaign material from their (Coworker B) preferred candidate. Coworker A comes back, says “Oh okay, I see how it is,” and from there on out, it was ON. Whenever one of them left their office for a little bit, the other would slip in and decorate it like campaign headquarters. They got very creative. Photoshopped, wrote and tacked up snarky poems on the wall, etc. They really went wild trying to outdo one another, and it was hysterically funny. I realize this probably wouldn’t work in every office, but it sure kept us entertained. And it was all in good fun.

  63. nnn*

    Jane and Sarah started working for the company at the same time in similar roles, so the manager kept mixing them up, calling them by each other’s name, etc.

    So on April Fool’s Day, they sat in each other’s cubicles, wearing a distinctive item of clothing from each other’s wardrobe.

    1. Jack Straw*

      As someone who was regularly confused with a coworker who sat near me and did a similar function, but we looked NOTHING alike, I applaud this.

  64. Phil*

    Today is my Late Evil Grandma Esther’s birthday but, as it turned out, the joke was on us.

  65. Sandi*

    I once visited someone whose office had the brightest pink walls that you could imagine, and it was a workplace that was not known for color or new paint.

    He explained that it had been a birthday prank, although the part he most appreciated was that he had taken his birthday as vacation and the previous day he left a bit later than expected so found out that they were planning to empty out his office. So he returned to work after his birthday expecting to find his furniture somewhere unexpected. Instead it was right where it should be, but in a freshly painted room.

  66. Nea*

    It’s not an office prank, but I’m tossing it into the pot because it is the greatest prank I will ever witness in my life.

    Picture a wedding, which has been running smoothly and completely normally right up to the part where the best man hands over the ring.

    Best man pats his jacket pockets. His trouser pockets. He keeps patting and the groom is slowly dying (the bride is starting to grin; she knows exactly what her husband’s friends are like). Suddenly, the best man holds up his hand, Ah HA!

    He pulls out a box of Crackerjack candy, opens it, pulls out the little prize packet, opens that and hands over the wedding ring, safe and unharmed. The wedding returns to normal procedure and the best man quietly eats Crackerjack for the rest of the ceremony.

    1. LimeRoos*

      Not a prank, but wedding silliness as well.

      When my husband and I got married, his Best Man had the rings in his pocket. We got to the point where our minister asked for the rings, and out they come with a giant piece of black lint – the four of us just stared for a second trying hard not to giggle. Somehow the photographer got a few snaps of that moment too, so we can look back and know exactly when the lint happened.

    2. starsaphire*

      Not for the ceremony, but for the rehearsal: We (the bridesmaids) did replicas of the “substitute rings” from the first wedding in Four Weddings and a Funeral. The bride was in on it; the groom and the priest were not.

      Fortunately, the priest HAD seen the movie… :D

  67. Skytext*

    For my campus job I worked in the Student Services/Housing Office. I usually had plenty of work to do (I singlehandedly put out the campus newsletter, did students resumes, and many other office tasks). But on this one day I had no work to do, and everyone else in the office all left to go to some meeting. I was bored and started making labels for absolutely everything on my desk (stapler, phone, etc). Then I moved on to using boxes of paper clips to make yards and yards of “chains”. I proceeded to wrap myself in them so when everyone came back they saw me “chained” to my typewriter making sad eyes at them lol.

  68. No Name Today*

    April Fail:
    We all called in sick. Before the last person could call in and say April Fool! boss and spouse were in an argument about boss having to cancel the day’s vacation to cover for us.
    No, boss did not end up canceling. But was still not amused, till a couple hours later.

    1. Sleepless*

      Oops. I’m laughing now because we are horribly short staffed, and every time somebody calls out it makes everybody else’s day exponentially harder. I’m picturing my boss’ face if we all did that. She has a great sense of humor, but I think she’d have to take a minute to pull herself together.

  69. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    This is still my favorite, 22 years later. I worked at a small company that was rapidly growing. Two of our new hires were a man in his 40s, and a woman barely in her 20s. The pair was unlikely to be close friends, so none of us realized that not only had they been close, they also had a history of orchestrating office pranks together. One day at the end of a work day, Salvia (the woman) complained that she’d seen mice in the office. I came into work the next day and lo and behold, there were mice droppings scattered all over my desk. I walked over to Salvia’s desk and Kratom (the guy) was there chatting with her. I told her that she’d been right, we did in fact have mice, I’d just walked into my cube to a bunch of mouse droppings. At this, Kratom became interested, and followed me back to my desk to see the droppings. With a dead straight face, he bent over my desk, looked at the droppings… picked one up, looked at it from all angles… popped it into his mouth and ate it. As I stood there speechless, Kratom deadpan said, “you’re right, that’s a mouse dropping” then started laughing. He and Salvia had planned the whole thing ahead. After she planted the rumor about mice the evening before, he came into work early and put chocolate sprinkles on my desk. Perfect execution. They totally got me. They both left the job soon after, hope they went on to work together and play new, even better pranks on coworkers.

    (No idea where the names came from. I was tired of Fergus and Tangerina, and these just popped into my head.)

    1. No Name Today*

      Glad I read to the end. One, that’s hilarious. Two, I was going to google what story they were from!

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Not gonna lie… they are both (legal, to my knowledge) recreational drugs.

          1. Frank Doyle*

            Ohhh, there is definitely a salvia that is an incredibly intense and short-lived (maybe 20 minutes?) psychedelic drug, which was at least legal in the US in the oughts.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          They are both plants and both can be used to create a sensation of euphoria.

          I used the second as painkiller when I had a herniated disc in my back.

          Also, after making this post, I found Kratom (the guy) on social media, and sent him a message reminding him of the prank. Here’s hoping that I’ll get a reply. Did not try looking for Salvia, because 1) she had a very common first and last name 2) she probably changed her last name since I saw her last.

  70. Mother of Komodo Dragons*

    One year, I took a screen-grab of my husband’s desktop. I then set that screen-grab as the background, and moved all the icons into a folder I had created that ALSO appeared on the desktop.

    He clicked on ‘Chrome’….nothing happened. He clicked on ‘My Computer’…nothing happened. He replaced the batteries in the wireless mouse, turned the computer off and back on…finally realized what I had done.

    We both laughed a lot.

    1. DefinitelyEnoughDetailToBeIdentified*

      OMG – my brother did that to my mom once.

      Mind you, this is also the same little brother who came home from school and made the pronouncement that “‘gullible’ isn’t in the English dictionary”. And, yes, my mom went to fetch her copy to check!
      Better than that, two years later he pulled the same prank, and she went to get the book AGAIN!

      Probably how he knew she’d fall for the screen-grab trick. I love my mom, but if you do look up gullible in the dictionary, it’s a picture of her!

    2. turquoisecow*

      The store I worked at got a computer put in at the customer service desk for various tasks that used to be done a different way. Some of us adapted quite easily to the new software and some of us did not.

      One of my coworkers figured out a key sequence for rotating the screen ninety degrees, so everything displayed sideways. It then became a consistent prank for someone to rotate the screen and walk away, leaving our less computer savvy coworkers very confused. After a few times they knew who did it and would immediately call for the person to come and fix it, but the first few times there was genuine panic of oh god how do I work with this?!

  71. yala*

    That Brown E’s one is really cute! I might do that one day. I like pranks where everyone laughs at the end. Something unexpected, but not mean.

    (Still say my best one was cleaning our house while one of our housemate’s was on vacation. It was my grandmother’s old house, and we basically moved in on top of all the old junk, so my other roommate and I took the week to pack everything away, move stuff to better places, and generally make it look more like our home than a place we were squatting. When she walked in she called me immediately, laughing because her first thought we that we’d been robbed.
    It’s not much of a “prank” I guess, but it was a fun surprise)

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband had gone out of town for the day (in the Normal Days) and I’d been texting him about how I was working on this project, I couldn’t wait to show him when he got home. The project was cleaning up our bedroom, which looked like three closets had erupted on it, I literally ended up taking like six big boxes of clothes and such to Goodwill. He got home when I was in the backyard with the dogs, and I got a text – “HOW DID WE GET ROBBED BLIND WHILE YOU WERE HOME WORKING ON A PROJECT ALL DAY??”

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        As someone who’s currently packing up my house for a move (after living there for 11 years with 1-2 other teens/adults living there and 2-3 adults regularly visiting/staying), and making daily Goodwill trips, I really understand and appreciate this post!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Oh, I feel you. I moved to the Midwest from Seattle nine years ago in a Smart car (with a five foot teddy bear riding shotgun). I have somehow since then managed to acquire enough STUFF to fill a house with four bedrooms, two living rooms and a full finished basement. (And the bear still hangs out in a chair in the living room.)

      2. Storm in a teacup*

        Ugh I just moved from an apartment to a house a month ago.
        Despite having had a major clear out and at least 2 trips to a recycling centre I still don’t know where to put some of the stuff in the house!
        I must have had way more closet space than I realised in my old place!

  72. Lady Meyneth*

    I had a coworker who really liked pranks. He didn’t do anything inappropriate, but we all knew if he relished the small ones he was able to pull on us.

    So when he left for a week of vacation, the whole office got together to do something for him. Our supervisor got access to his computer, and we screenshot his desktop, stuffed all the files on a hidden directory and put the image as the background. Then we inverted the mouse settings, so moving the mouse right would move the cursor left. And finally we put duct tape under his mouse’s sensor so moving it did nothing at all.

    When he came back, it was hilarious to watch him trying to fix every step of his computer’s issue. He looked like a little kid on Christmas morning.

  73. Cowgirlinhiding*

    My co-manager send an email to our assistant early today and told them they had to start sharing their office with another assistant, who needs to move out of the office they are in. It was early enough I didn’t get in the office for several hours after the email. My assistant was so upset when I arrived at work they didn’t know if it was a joke or not. I didn’t know what was happening and asked what was wrong, it was obvious they were upset. It was a joke.

      1. Jack Straw*

        People’s seating arrangements are nothing to joke about. (I’m being one hundred million trillion thousand percent serious.)

  74. who moved my cheese?*

    We welcomed a coworker back from a 3-week vacation with a literally 2 foot tall stack of ‘paperwork’ (nonsense, recycling, scraps) that said URGENT – PLEASE REVIEW IMMEDIATELY. He was dismayed until he started to dig in and saw it was nonsense.

  75. Lynn*

    These are AMAZING

    I have a few of my own that I did with coworkers in the before times:

    – In that awkward week between Christmas & New Year’s, a coworker and I were bored and wrapped a fellow coworkers desk & everything in it in tin foil (he was on a different team than us but his team was very enthusiastic about helping). I also wrapped a tampon in tin foil so he didn’t realize what it was until he unwrapped it. He looked at it in confusion and was mortified when it finally dawned on him what it was.

    – I switched internally to a different team right after I got married. My new team asked for a picture of me and I erroneously assumed that it was for something celebratory (because our companion has a big culture on celebrating milestones outside of work). Nope! They wanted to photoshop my pic into a team pic they had taken right before I joined the team. We all thought it was hilarious and another coworker and I later printed a bunch of various sized wedding pictures, cut me out, and taped me into the background of everyone’s else’s pictures.

    – I got an ergonomic bluetooth keyboard and mouse set. One of my coworkers was notorious for leaving his computer unlocked, so when he went to the bathroom, I plugged in the bluetooth receiver USB and accepted the device, and then when he came back, I made his cursor keep “jumping”. Eventually he got frustrated with his computer, decided to turn it off, and call it a day early (and honestly, good for him). Obviously would not have done if he had been in a high stress or had a key deliverable he was working on but that day it was pretty harmless.

  76. Don’t hide my straightener*

    I work in media and frequently have to do my hair or make up on the fly, at work. We are a small outfit with less than 10 employees.

    One day, for reasons, I quickly straightened my hair in a shared bathroom used by everyone. *It was very early in the morning and most employees weren’t at work yet; there are also two other shared bathrooms. Plugs weren’t working* I accidentally left my straighter in the bathroom. A male coworker went in to the bathroom later, took my straightener and hid it. He just thought it was a funny prank. I searched high and low for three days, he knew it and never said a word. So I ordered a new one. A brand new $125 straightener, because I’d lost mine. On the fourth day, he brought my straightener back and told me he had hidden it as a prank, but he hoped I’d learned to put my things up. I WAS PISSED and let him know it. I think he was a bit surprised by my reaction. NEveryone in that place knew I’d been looking for that thing and he never said a word. I was so mad, I vented about it to the office manager, who told our boss(Owner), who had a long talk with coworker and also paid me for the straightener.

    1. No Name Today*

      Wow. Wow on him.
      Please don’t reprimand coworkers or teach them as one would a child.
      My first thought was after day one he was too embarrassed to admit he’d done it.
      This could be the case and then when you really ordered one, he tried one of those “best defense is a good offense” tactics.

  77. MissCoco*

    At my old lab our building manager had amazing email pranks every year. Usually only got people once, but pretty consistently got new people each year.
    He always emailed about them ahead of time (just like a normal maintenance event) so your April 1st antennae weren’t pricked.

    Two favorites of mine:
    Annual tile rotation – everything needs to be removed from countertops and desktops so maintenance can rotate all the tiles in the drop down ceiling. Square tiles will be rotated 90 degrees, rectangular tiles will be rotated 180 degrees.

    Mice have been spotted in the building, and we’ve hired a company come to bring in feral cats over the weekend. Handlers will have teams of cats on each floor from 10pm to 8am on Friday and Saturday nights.
    Please remove any open bottles of chemicals from counters, put any ongoing experiments in the hoods, and make sure there is no food in any offices or desks as it may distract the cats.
    He even made up a fake company with an email and phone number if people had questions (both redirected to him)

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Hello yes I’m going to start a company that supplies feral cats to sweep buildings for mice. (Also the annual tile rotation is fantastic!)

      1. MissCoco*

        The best part of that one was my very tall and thoughtful coworker offered to do the ones in our lab himself so maintenance wouldn’t have to!

        1. SarahKay*

          Okay, now I really am dying laughing. That’s just so sweet of your co-worker.
          Also, wouldn’t it be amazing if there really was a company that would bring in cats for a weekend to clear out mice. I mean, I’m (sadly) allergic to cats and I still would love there to be such a company.

  78. CatCat*

    Coincidentally, today’s item on my “Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings” tear away calendar is:

    “Prank early, prank often
    Douse your coworker’s pen collection with glitter. Switch the regular coffee with decaf and let everyone know except that one guy. Leave a voice mail message in your boss’s voice saying that your coworker’s compensation will be reduced significantly due to market fluctuations. Your coworkers will see you as the CEO of fun times.”

  79. Jules the 3rd*

    In 2018 / 2019, I had substitutes (including a literal Minion) in my chair on Halloween.

    I work in a cube farm. I also make intricate / structural costumes for my kid for Halloween. I always take Halloween or the closest weekday off (usually because I’m finishing up that year’s costume). In 2018, I worked late at the office on the 30th, then brought in the Minecraft Creeper costume (made of cardboard) that I’d stored in my trunk to set in my chair. In 2019, I had to drive in to set up the Despicable Me Minion costume. I’m told lots of people took pics…

    2021, pandemic willing, it’ll be the sus Red Crewman from Among Us, unless the kid decides he wants to wear it again. In which case, it’ll be the Pokemon Go Lickitung, I guess.

  80. JustaTech*

    At some point two of my guy coworkers got into a conversation about celebrity men with beards, and one of them expressed that he didn’t like celebrity men with beards (ie, he thought they looked better clean-shaven).

    A week or so later this coworker started finding printouts of actors with beards all around his work space – in drawers, in file and even taped to his desk under his keyboard. He thought this was quite funny.

    (The women in the group were mostly bemused that this “actors with beards” had become a thing between our two presumably straight coworkers.)

    That coworker is long gone, but we found the last of the pictures when we renovated the office – it was stuck to the wall behind a filled bookcase.

    1. Sleepless*

      I wonder if that’s the explanation for a mystery at my old job? There was a Post-It with a butt drawn in pencil on the wall behind a storage cabinet at my old job. Just a butt. No label or context or anything. It had been there longer than any of the non-management staff, and nobody was about to ask management about it. I wonder if it was part of a set. I wonder if it’s still there.

  81. DefinitelyEnoughDetailToBeIdentified*

    Many years ago I worked with a young man who delighted in pranking his desk neighbour – a lovely young woman who… while quite intelligent in a lot of other ways, was NOT quick on the uptake when it came to pranks.
    The favourite one I witnessed was when he (Ross) bought a wireless mouse and snuck the USB receiver into the back of her (Phoebe’s) PC. Then he hid the second mouse on the side away from her behind some papers and had some fun.
    First, her cursor kept moving to the opposite side of the screen to where she put it. Then it opened Internet Explorer and clicked on the news shortcut and danced in little circles across the screen. Phoebe couldn’t work out who was doing it. Despite Ross *blatantly* looking at her screen so he could see where to send the cursor next.
    Phoebe: I think my computer is haunted!
    She finally twigged that it was clearly something Ross was doing, but not how. He ended up opened MS Paint and drew “I have a mouse!”
    She thought it was brilliant, and made a point to buy a wireless mouse of her own to prank her boyfriend in the same way at home.

  82. Sleepless*

    One year on April Fool’s in our animal hospital, one of our vet techs was about to give birth any day. On the evening of 3/31, my phone started blowing up with a group text about making one of our male doctors think that her water had broken during rounds. Much discussion of how to create this scene ensued, plus a little Google research (should it be clear or pink tinged?) since none of us had ever seen a human’s water break. Our little creation ended up involving a recycled IV fluid bag, scissors, a bit of food coloring, and some scripting. Both of our male doctors were there, as it turned out, which was pretty great because they were both a bit high strung. Well, as it turned out, neither of them were the least bit flustered! They calmly helped her sit down and were on the way to call her husband and drive her to the hospital. We had to tell them it was a prank, and the expectant mom told them how thankful she would have been for their cool heads if she really had had an emergency. It was quite sweet.

  83. Amy the Rev*

    The year that Easter fell on April 1, our confirmation class had spent a couple weeks making a giant papier maché ‘boulder’ that they put in front of the Senior Pastor’s office door on Sunday night (I let them in- hehe). They also cleared off the office in his coffee table, and put a giant white bedsheet on it that was painted with the impression of a person’s face, and it was the “Shroud of [our town name]”. They put a little sign on his office door behind the boulder that said “It is CONFIRMED- He is Risen!” . It was really cute and made its way into that Sunday’s sermon!

    A couple years prior, they had pranked the SP by reaching out to say one of them had gotten into knitting with yarn made from her cat’s hair, and the class would like to gift him with a special stole she had made for him. After a few moments of trying to find a way to tactfully, pastorally decline, he saw the date on the email and realized the prank. So he responded suggesting that the gift would be even more special and personal if they used yarn made of their own (shed) head hair. Mirth all around!

  84. Salad Daisy*

    I worked for a year at a company which was very much into April Fools pranks. On March 31, after everyone had left, the managers went around and removed the screws from a number of chairs. The next morning, when the occupants sat down, the chairs collapsed to the ground. This was supposed to be funny. Someone vaselined my phone and keyboard, so I spent the day with vaseline in my hair. I did not find this funny and was told that I was not a good sport. The worst prank was removing the screws that held the faucet on the sink in the ladies room, so when someone turned on the water the faucet came off and she was sprayed with water. This person went back to her desk, packed up her belongings, and quit on the spot. I hope she sued the company! Please note that it was the managers who set up these prank, so you could say they were all company sanctioned.

      1. 'Tis Me*

        Yeah, all you need is somebody to land badly or to have existing back/hip etc problems, or clotting issues that mean even slight knocks cause big bruises…

  85. Environmental Compliance*

    When I was interning and reported to my dad (since the actual intern wrangler couldn’t be bothered at that workplace), at one point I was told to sit in his office for a few minutes until he came back with a list of tasks to do. Roughly 45 minutes later, at which point I’ve walked the entire plant twice and can’t find him, I switched his desktop background to different pictures of deer sticking their tongues out. He kept it like that for quite some time.

    Did a similar thing later at my last job the week before the guy retired but with random pictures of opposing sports teams and cute puppies.

    I also hid tiny rubber duckies in my college roommate’s desk/closet/shower basket/backpack. Somehow she got convinced it *wasn’t* me doing it (though I wasn’t hiding it in the slightest) and was certain someone broke in, didn’t steal anything, and just… hid rubber ducks everywhere. I think she was still finding rubber ducks moving out of the apartment she moved to after college.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I am CRYING with laughter and so upset I didn’t also find Giant Ducks to hide!

  86. Jay*

    When I was taking organic chemistry my sophomore year in college, a classified ad appeared in the college paper that said “Beer and Orgo – do they mix? Find out Friday at 9:00 AM.” I got to class that day to find the back row of the auditorium filled with people who were not taking the class. A few guys down front were passing out bottles of beer (this was 1979 – we were all legal). The professor – who was well know for using various colors of chalk as he lectured – came out to find that all his chalk had been replaced with black chalk. He paused, shrugged, pulled a piece of yellow chalk out of his pocket, and the loudspeaker started to play an a capella song: “Only Nerds Use Colored Chalk.” He laughed, waited for the song to end, and wrote NITROSAMINES on the board. The loudspeaker came to life again with a booming bass voice that said NITROSAMINES. FROM A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY. Then the movie screen unrolled to show a large-than-life caricature of the prof taped to the screen. At that point he walked off the stage, grabbed a beer from the front row, opened it and took a deep swig. The guys who engineered this had rewired all the controls in the state-of-the-art lecture hall so they could run everything from their seats. It went on for the entire hour and it was hilarious.

    That afternoon we were in lab and the lab supervisor came to one of my classmates, a well-know singer whose voice could clearly be heard in the a cappella song. She asked if he’d been involved. He nervously agreed that he had. She said “Professor M wants a recording of that song. He’s already hung the cartoon in his office.” Great guy.

  87. catwhisperer*

    A former coworker of mine (who I’m still good friends with) is a big introvert and absolutely hates Baby Yoda from The Mandalorian. So, naturally, last year for her birthday I photoshopped Baby Yoda into a pic of her holding her dog to make it look like she was holding Baby Yoda, printed out dozens of copies in various sizes, and covered every visible surface in her work area with it. I also got her a banner that said “Please leave by 9” that we’d joked about getting for parties and draped over her desk. We have an open workspace, so everyone could see it.

    It was one of the last things I did in the office before COVID happened and I moved to a different country. I’m so glad that’s the last memory I have of my last office.

  88. CreepyPaper*

    One year my co-worker and I got in SUPER early and taped over the optical sensor on everyone’s mouse. This was when we were making the switch from the traditional ball mouse to optical mice so a lot of people weren’t totally trusting of the sensor anyway. IT were in on it (we’re not total jerks) and they reported twenty-five instances of people saying their mouse wasn’t working out of an office of thirty-six employees.

    We also managed to rick-roll the entire global company one year. Y’know, when that was still a thing.

    We’re married now, me and my prank partner in crime. The pranks were just the beginning.

      1. CreepyPaper*

        When you and your partner in crime are in global logistics and have to send a company wide report via a hyperlink, it’s surprisingly easy.

    1. Can't Sit Still*

      Ah, the good old days, when ALL – Company Name was always the first name in the address book and not restricted in any way.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      1) Nice!
      2) Rickrolls are coming back – my 13yo has been doing them for two years now, and several others in his middle school have picked it up. Back pre-pandemic, I was chaperone on a trip that had 5 versions of the song going at once – not all true rickrolls, but it all started with one.

      1. CreepyPaper*

        They are?!

        The other song that’s a good troll is ‘Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing On Rainbows’. Someone got me with that one year and I could not get the song out of my head. It’s catchy. I still fondly remember that I managed to get most of our lorry drivers humming it by the end of the day. All I’d done was walk down to the yard to collect their load sheets, humming it under my breath.

        1. 'Tis Me*

          That’s my 6 year old’s actual favourite song :D Closely followed by The Duck Song set…

      2. All hail the rickroll*

        I have stubbornly refused to give up Tumblr as my social media of choice, and I’m pleased to report that I see a rickroll at least once every couple of weeks and I’ve seen ten or fifteen variations on the rickroll today. The rest of the internet can do what they want, we’re keeping this meme alive come hell or high water.

  89. Ladycrim*

    Last year I did a prank that could only happen in our work-from-home, meet-over-Zoom times. My department was doing daily Zoom meetings then (we’re doing them weekly now). I have curly red hair, so on April 1 I put a voluminous curly red wig on my husband and put him in front of my computer at meeting time. (“Morning, everyone! I just can’t do a thing with my hair today!”) My boss couldn’t stop laughing.

  90. Football Rivalry Shenanigans*

    My favourite harmless office prank we pulled was on our VP. It was the last work day before a big football game between our local team and our biggest rivals who happened to be the local team where our VP hailed from. We all came in early with decorations, jerseys, helium balloons in our local team colours and completely redecorated his office. Replaced wall art, big banners, team-themed confetti, the whole nines. Then nearly our entire department, decked out in our local team jerseys crammed into his office and took a group photo.

    He was a great sport about it and even wore the local team jersey we brought in especially for him!

  91. TiTi*

    I had an office that led to the shop. The guys loved playing pranks on me. One included blocking my door that led to the shop with stuff that could only be moved my a forklift (There was another door to my office, they just thought it was funny to watch me operate the forklift), Papering my door with funny sayings and pictures, hiding the coffee pots (I was the only one that drank coffee after 9 am, although that was a fantastic excuse to go pick up a fancy coffee from the shops), Switching out all the candy in my candy bowl for nerds (This was after they found out I am a self proclaimed nerd). Telling me one of the vehicles needed checked on and then when I hopped in the vehicle to check on it the Rick Rolled me through the blue tooth. It was always really fun and lighthearted.

  92. Sanity Lost*

    I had a fuzzy hat from my trip to London that I loved wearing during the winter. My boss would always poke it with a pencil saying it was moving. So one April Fools. I attached a hook with some fishing line to it and to his suit jacket. The look on his face when he realized it was “hopping” after him was hilarious. The other office workers thought it was perfect :)

  93. Not My Money*

    I worked on the movie Lincoln and they had signs all over the place that read “To protect the integrity of the film please do not divulge any details about this project to anyone.” So one night, when I was the last person in the office, I stuck a post-it note on said sign behind the front desk that read “Lincoln dies”. It was gone when I got there in the morning and no one ever spoke of it but I still find it hilarious.

  94. Amy*

    I worked in a call center, and we often pranked manager-level-and-up colleagues. We crafted at our desks and rotated time off the phone (coded to ‘team building’) so everyone enjoyed the activities. Two of my favorites:
    1) Our grand-boss turned 50, so we decorated the outside of his office like a time machine with the date meter set to “Dave’s Glory Days”. The inside of his office got decorated with 80’s memorabilia. We covered all the wall space of his giant office in posters of 80’s rock bands so it looked like a high-schooler’s bedroom. The back of the door had a series of dancing Rick Astley pictures.
    2) For a floor manager’s birthday, we decorated his cubicle to look like an igloo, using tent poles to make a dome and draped white plastic tablecloths over it, painted with ice blocks and a friendly polar bear. We hung lights inside so it was usable. He enjoyed working in it so much, he left it up for weeks.

  95. Kippy*

    Yay! I finally get to tell this story here.
    At my firm cake day is a big deal. Partners get a cake on their actual birthday and the rest of us get a cake on the Wednesday closest to our birthday. Unless you specifically opt out, everyone gets their choice of cake. Paul is a senior partner, very serious, somewhat aloof, but he LOVES cake and cake day. I’ve worked here for over a decade now and I can probably count the non-work conversations I’ve had with him on one hand – except if the conversation is about cake. He comes to every cake day unless he’s in court or there’s another serious conflict with his schedule. If he can’t be there for cake day, there’s a standing order to save him a slice. If he’s out of the office and calls in on cake day, he will ask about the cake.
    Becky is a legal assistant that reports to another partner but, due to workflow, occasionally works with Paul. She’d been working at the firm for almost a full year when her birthday rolled around. Paul asked her about her choice of cake – the Chantilly Berry Cake – which is a good cake but also somewhat of the default cake for folks to select if they don’t really care what kind of cake they get. Becky admitted that she didn’t really like cake and preferred pie. Paul was a little baffled by this but chatted with her about the cake anyway.
    The next year when Becky’s birthday was coming up, Paul went to our office manager (she’s in charge of buying the cake) and told her he wanted to prank Becky. Wouldn’t it be funny if we let Becky think she was getting a cake but then she was surprised with a pie!!! He thought this was hilarious. Various friends of Becky were brought into the secret so it could be determined what kind of pie to buy. She’d eaten pecan pie at the Thanksgiving luncheon but one time she ordered a dutch apple pie at a lunch one day. But she mentioned making a key lime pie last month! What pie would she want!?!
    Meanwhile Paul kept mentioning how much he was looking forward to the Chantilly Berry Cake that would be served for Becky’s birthday. He mentioned it directly to her a couple of times but also wanted other people to mention it to her. I’m sure she was straight up confused as to why Paul, serious, staid Paul, kept mentioning cake to her when she was just trying to work.
    Eventually it was 3:00 on Wednesday and, therefore, cake time! Becky walked into the kitchen where most of us, including Paul, were assembled. She was presented with the box with her cake. She opened it and – it was a lovely banana crème pie! Ha ha!
    Becky was baffled at first but once Paul, who of course thought this was hilarious, explained how he had “pranked” her she totally got into the spirit and loved her pie and the whole “prank.” I don’t think she or anyone else actually thought it was funny but it was just such a delight to see this normally very straight laced older man getting such joy from such a dumb prank. It’s kind of like when a little kid tries to tell you a joke and the joke doesn’t really make any sense but the kid thinks it’s funny so you end up thinking the situation itself is funny and laugh at that more than any actually joke.
    But then! Paul revealed that he had “punked” all of us – and, yes, he used the word “punked.” He had bought a cake too! The joke was on the entire office!
    That’s how you do an office prank. No one’s injured or has their feelings hurt and everyone gets cake. Or pie.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Paul is a national treasure and must be preserved at all costs.

  96. opportunistic prank*

    A couple of years ago our team all went bowling after work one evening. Shoeless Coworker had so much fun they accidentally went home in their rental bowling shoes. They brought the bowling shoes back to the lanes the next day, but were unable to find their regular shoes.

    The holiday white elephant / Yankee Swap was about a week later. Innocent Coworker opened their gift to find… an old pair of sneakers? Which Shoeless Coworker saw and immediately yelped, “Those are my shoes!” Turns out one of the other bowlers (who left AFTER Shoeless Coworker went home) had noticed No-Longer-Shoeless Coworker left their sneakers behind and snagged them for the Swap. This would be hard to premeditate but definitely a prank with a happy ending!

  97. Leslie Knope 2.0*

    My old boss was a Russian immigrant, and on April Fool’s day one of the employees sent “faxes” to her (as in he just printed them to the printer in her office) consisting of various phrases of “Agent Romanov, you are activated” translated to Russian via Google translate. She had no idea what was going on and started calling IT to see what the problem was with her computer/printer. IT had no idea what she was talking about and kept telling her to just restart her computer. We eventually came clean and told her about April Fool’s day, and I’ve never seen her laugh so hard! She told us, “I thought it was my idiot ex boyfriend from KGB. Now THAT’S a fool!!”
    She was one of the best bosses I ever had!

  98. jcarnall*

    This was years ago. I was off work over the Easter weekend, going to a science-fiction convention and then taking a break for a few days. I’d mentioned the con in passing to my co-workers as you do – none of them were science-fiction fans at all. I got back on the Tuesday morning, and found a huge stack of post in my in-tray – big A4 envelopes all addressed to me. Different sizes and colours and so on. So I made myself a cup of coffee, took the post through to the meeting room with a paper knife, and settled down to open my mail. Bit surprised to get so much, even though I’d been away for over a week, since it was over a public holiday. Also a bit hurt that no one was going “hello, nice to see you back” when i came into the office.

    The first envelope had a guide to How To Speak Klingon or some such. Second envelope, blueprints for the Millenium Falcon. Third envelope….

    I started laughing and everyone piled into the meeting room and NOW they all said hello, we missed you… It had totally slipped my mind it was the first of April, too, which made it all the funnier: I was not expecting it at all.

  99. Sparkles McFadden*

    My favorites (some are oldies but are still funny):

    – The office filled with balloons (followed by twenty minutes of popping noises when the boss came in).

    – The “desktop as a screen saver locked screen” gag

    – The day shift guy who set all computers in a communal area with night time alerts where they’d scream or say things in a creepy voice to scared the guys on night shift (this was for Halloween).

    – The guy who labeled every single item in his boss’ office (pen, keyboard, chair, door, ceiling tile, ceiling tiles, ceiling tile). Front and center on the desk was the label makers with a “label maker” label on it.

    – The guy who dressed a mannequin in his boss’ gym clothes and put it in his office. The best part of this prank was that everyone who walked by said good morning to the mannequin without realizing it was a mannequin.

    – The guy who replaced the family photos on another guy’s desk with random people who kind of looked like the original people…and the guy didn’t notice until a coworker looked at a group picture and said “I didn’t know you had a daughter.”

    – I’m not really a prank person but I did put a cordless doorbell on the frame of my boss’ door. He really liked it and kept it there until the batteries died.

    1. On a pale mouse*

      I wrote of essentially the same labeling prank earlier… Did we work at the same place? Or maybe great minds think alike. I won’t name my employer but it was university IT.

  100. a drive-by commenter*

    We have a big tradition of pulling pranks at my job, but we always keep them quick and low-key. Three of my coworkers have an ongoing game where they move each other’s thermos. There are all sorts of rules about the maximum distance they’re allowed to move it, etc. This would drive me up a wall, so they leave my water bottle alone and it’s all good. I always try to put price stickers on my one coworker’s back without him noticing, and then when he finds them and complains that the price is too low, I tell him that it’s the hourly rate.

    But the best two examples of a prank at my work are as follows: one of my coworkers resigned, but his brother still worked with us. At that time there was this set of seasonal statues at the store that were quite old, so our boss decided to throw them out. We convinced former coworker’s brother to let us put the statues in his room, because he had always joked about the statues and given them names. We put one by the door, one in his desk chair, one in the closet, and one in his bed. He came home late and rather intoxicated, and according to his brother, the reaction was all you could have hoped for.

    We then pulled a similar prank on my other coworker with an artificial floral arrangement. It was also quite old and rather ugly, so she and our boss would try to hide it in whatever product display the other one was working on, to see how long it took to notice. Finally our boss decided to just throw it out, and I offered to leave it on my coworker’s front step while she was at work. She thought it was hilarious.

  101. Radiation Safety Wizard*

    At a community event to promote our Cancer Center’s services my colleague introduced himself as the Wizard (we’re both Therapeutic Medical Physicists) and I introduced myself at the apprentice Wizard (we were the only 2 in this job at this location). Got a good laugh out of all the doctors in attendance.
    A few weeks later this coworker went on vacation and left his id badge in our shared office. Most of the hospital staff had some sort of tag denoting what we did (they looked like banners across the bottom of the badge), doctor for Physician; RN for a nurse etc. We didn’t have anything so while he was on vacation I printed up a card that looked like the physician’s and said “WIZARD.” He thought it was awesome, and wore it until the tag I made wore out. The best part was that after it wore out the hospital CEO had a tougher one made because he thought it was hilarious.

  102. turquoisecow*

    When I was in, I think 6th grade, the teacher had a prank where she came in dressed differently and pretended to be her own identical twin. I forget exactly what she did but she wore her hair differently and dressed in a completely different style and pretended she didn’t know any of us. She kept it up the entire day and insisted she was a different person completely. She was so good at it that to this day I’m not 100% sure it wasn’t her identical twin.

    The following year I saw her doing the same thing – apparently it was a yearly ritual for her.

    1. Jay*

      In my (not very big) hometown, there was one woman who never appeared in public without full makeup, heels, and fancy clothing. At a PTA meeting where the other moms were in ponytails, slacks and sweaters, she would rock a full bouffant (this was a long time ago) and a velvet dress with stilettos. She was very nice and friendly and a bit out of step with the local fashion. I’ll call her Liz.

      My dad was her doctor when she was in an accident that landed her in the hospital with a badly broken leg. He was walking down the corridor after seeing her when he noticed a woman walking toward him. It was Liz – at least it seemed to be – in full makeup, wearing a silk suit, hose and heels. He stopped dead in his tracks and stared. She laughed and said “Didn’t you know Liz had an identical twin?”

    2. Lord Peter Wimsey*

      This sounds like the great children’s book, Miss Nelson is Missing! Miss Nelson is a very nice teacher, but her class doesn’t appreciate her — until Miss Viola Swamp (a mean teacher who looks suspiciously like Miss Nelson) takes over the class.

  103. Burner McBurnerson*

    I had a coworker leaving to work in another department. He was a funny guy who loved pranks.

    For about a week before his going away party, some of us would sneak into an empty office here and there to blow up balloons. We hid them in trash bags as we blew them up, so it would look less suspicious if he walked by. During his party, I slipped out to fill his cube with balloons up to the top (and put plastic wrap over the entrance to hold them in).

    He did get *slightly* suspicious when literally everyone in the office followed him back to his cube, many holding their phones out for photos, but he was still surprised by the specifics. He got to jump in and land on the balloon pile.

    After he left, the balloons were still there (along with a pair of earbuds), so a coworker and I brought all of the balloons into a conference room to pop them, then stuck the deflated balloons and earbuds into an interoffice mail envelope with an unsigned note saying, “You forgot these.” (We got a delighted email from him soon after.)

    I also got someone a durian for a going away party (which we opened outside), which I think counts as a prank because durian.

  104. ApplePie*

    Am I the only grumpy millennial hating the plastic wrap one? How wasteful. The other ones are awesome! Especially the bulletin board one. I would have loved to see the kids faces!

  105. Eat My Squirrel*

    Not my story, but too good not to share. A former coworker of mine, before he became an engineer, was a firefighter at the university. His girlfriend worked in a lab at the university.
    He got the entire fire department and research department involved and staged a very realistic hazmat situation. She was “trapped” in her lab with a view through a window to where the “deadly chemical spill” was, and watched in complete horror as her boyfriend showed up as the guy who had to clean up the deadly waste. At one point, he starts taking off his hazmat suit, and she’s freaking out, pounding the glass, screaming at him thinking he’s going to die. Then he opens the door to the lab, gets down on one knee, and asks her to marry him.

    She said yes. And promptly made sure all of his firefighter buddies knew he had a phobia of soft things and filled his locker with stuffed animals and cotton balls on a regular basis. Made for each other, those two..

  106. irene adler*

    Our resident Photoshop expert took a picture the boss has of himself skiing and superimposed on his head the pointy-hair of the pointy-hair boss from Dilbert. And it looked good!
    So there’s a pic of the boss in his ski outfit -with the pointy hair- in a picture frame in a portion of the office. We’re still waiting for the boss to notice.

  107. Fourth and Inches*

    Someone swapped all of our nameplates today. It’s a tame prank, but it lifted the spirits in our office. March was a hellish month, and this gave us all a chance to walk around, see who was who today, and chuckle together.

    1. april-snools*

      Our president’s name is Joe, I taped the last name “Biden” over his nameplate just now. He hasn’t noticed yet but his assistant thought it was hilarious

      1. april-snools*

        Update! He saw it, he laughed, other people laughed, fun time had by all. Later in the day someone else changed “Biden” to “Exotic.” Hahah

  108. Moi*

    I have a few different ones!

    When I transitioned from Intern to Full-time at my first job, I took a couple weeks off so I could move and injured my wrist in the process. I commented about it to a coworker who was already well aware of my klutzy tendencies. When I came back for my ‘first day’ I found they had bubble wrapped EVERYTHING in my cube. Even the keys on the phone had their own little square of bubble wrap attached to it so I couldn’t accidently hurt myself. They were kind enough to help me unwrap everything, but it was difficult since we were giggling so much.

    Later at the same job, I thought a director called me by a nickname I don’t like or so I corrected him. He didn’t actually call me by the nickname, but he wasted no time in texting everyone else on the team about it. For the rest of the morning I received greetings all with said nickname.
    This started on Monday. At some point, they changed my name card to reflect said nickname and I didn’t notice until late Tuesday.
    My revenge involved changing the Director’s nametag to a silly nickname, and then ‘egging’ his office by printing out a couple sheets of broken egg pictures and taping them around his office.

  109. Kehsquared*

    One of the teachers I used to work with loves pranks. When one of his students told him she broke her phone, he enlisted her to pull a prank on the class. He was going to catch her texting, reprimand her, and smash her already broken phone on the ground. She was totally on board.

    When prank day came, she played the part: freaking out, begging him not to take her phone, and getting upset when he smashed it. What he didn’t know was that she had gotten a new phone, wasn’t acting, and he smashed her brand new phone.

    Fortunately, the student’s parents were very understanding, thought it was funny, and could easily afford to replace the phone so it’s something we could all laugh at.

    1. Eat My Squirrel*

      Ohhh noooo. That was all set to be hilarious until the twist at the end. How awful. That teacher was lucky. If that had been my kid I would have been livid and made the teacher pay for the new phone (and also probably grounded my kid for not bowing out of the prank in advance when they got the new phone.)

      1. 'Tis Me*

        Why didn’t she just bring in her old phone for the prank? Or let him know ahead of time?

        I think the teacher should have offered and been willing to pay for it – but if the parents could afford it then them/the student herself replacing it was probably the right call coz he genuinely didn’t know…

  110. Lyudie*

    A coworker and I hid (quite realistic) fake cockroaches in another coworker’s cube while he was on vacation. In desk drawer’s, behind the monitor, keyboard tray, I even tucked one into a box of cold medicine. He never said anything about it, I’m sure he knew I was involved in some way (there had been an incident with a kidnapped stuffed dragon a few weeks prior) and didn’t want to give me the satisfaction

    1. JZ*

      I successfully pranked my Wasband with fake cockroaches. I put them under the kitchen sink on top of the box of extra trash bin liners. “Honey, the trash is getting full, could you take it out to tonight?” I have never seen anyone scoot across the floor so fast.

      He got me back. He’d regularly tuck one of the fake roaches into my briefcase or lunch box for me to find when I was at work.

      We got so much mileage out of those two 50 cent plastic roaches. *chuckles*

      1. Lyudie*

        LOL! We did too, my coworker in crime had originally bought them to use for yet another coworker (who put a sticky note over the sensor on her wireless mouse–the sticky note had a smiley face on it).

  111. Red Fraggle*

    I’m not sure these really count, but when I worked in retail we had 3 recurring pranks:

    1) If you were out for more than a week, you were guaranteed to come back to a locker* FULL of shrink wrap (from unpacked freight). It never stopped being funny.

    2) Leading up to annual inventory, a few hardy souls pre-counted the backstock. Counted sections were cordoned off with NEON tape. (“No touchy!”) Whoever had to rip down the miles of tape after inventory would make a HUGE tape ball and stuff it in their bff’s locker* — acres of eye-searing color filling such a tiny space was so much funnier than the usual shrink wrap.

    3) During inventory, finished shelves were marked with a neon sticky tab about the size of a paperclip. Most tabs were collected at the end of the night, but there were always a few sneaky survivors that went unnoticed for weeks or months. When found, you stuck the tab to the sleeve of the nearest unsuspecting team member, who would yelp-laugh because “noooooo inventoryyyy whyyyyy!”

    * We were trusting, casual team who frankly used our lockers as open cubbies for swapping notes, goodies, and books/dvds. I’m told corporate now enforces actually locking lockers these days, which is probably for the best (but ah nostalgia).

  112. Scott D*

    A co-worker left his computer on when he went to lunch (a security no-no). I took a screenshot of his desktop, then moved all his icons to a folder and set his background image to the screenshot. When he came back he was cursing because “none of my icons are working.” They weren’t really icons–just a screenshot of icons. I told him to reboot. I only told him what I’d done when he was about to call the help desk.

    Another prank was two days after we had a small earthquake. Our admin sits at a HUGE desk. Myself and another co-worker went underneath the desk and started shaking her desk. She screamed “EARTHQUAKE!” and dove under the desk and then saw us.

    1. Eat My Squirrel*

      I love both of these so much. I’m picturing the people under the desk just smiling innocently and saying “hi!”

  113. A.*

    We plastic-wrapped the desk of a coworker who was on vacation and it went over fine, but my favorite part of that story is that we were in a downstairs, less-serious office of a larger and much more corporate company–and someone clearly from the upstairs office walked past while we were doing it. We all froze, and my boss (who was helping us) said something like “they’re doing construction over this desk, we’re protecting it.” An obvious lie, and he said “That’s a good one,” kept walking, and we never saw him again. I still laugh thinking about that.

  114. Awesome Sauce*

    I am not shy about my age. So when I turned 40, the folks I regularly took coffee breaks with came in early on my birthday and decorated my cubicle with party hats, a helium balloon, a great big pin that said “40” on it, and a full package of tiny plastic pink flamingos. Most of the flamingos were used to spell out “40” in huge characters on my desk, but some were hidden (e.g. behind the photo frames on my desk, in weird crevasses in my chair). I even found one 3 years later when our whole company moved to a different office. I found the entire thing hilarious and it really made my day.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      In middle school one of my teachers enlisted the students to help prank one of the other teachers on her birthday. Birthday!teacher was known for always carrying around a bottle of diet coke, so on her 40th birthday, 40 different students gave her bottles of diet coke throughout the day.

  115. Jude*

    One of the guys I worked with left the team (on really good terms, we still see him outside of work) to go to a different company. Well to show him what he’s missing, we took a photo we had of him, and gave him theme cartoon bodies / accessories for various holidays.

    Christmas? Printed out a Santa body and stuck his head on it along with a Santa hat. It was up all December.
    St Patrick’s Day? We made him a leprechaun. It was fun for the whole team.

    We obviously couldn’t keep our genius to ourselves, so every new occasion he would get a photo of us with our official team mascot. Its like he never left.

  116. Jill T.*

    I *love* pranks so long as they fall under the category of “confuse, don’t abuse”!

    Some examples of successful pranks that were enjoyed by prankster (me!) and pranked alike:

    One colleague asked our surrounding neighbors for songs to listen to in order to get an earworm out of her head. One guy sarcastically recommended the song that never ends popularized by 1992 puppet Lamb Chop – so the next time he took a day off, I taped pictures of lamb chop all around his workspace. On parts of his desk chair, under the lid of his jar of mints, I even WRAPPED some of his (individually wrapped) mints with lamb chop. He didn’t find the one inside his headset earpiece for a few months!

    Another colleague expressed a mild annoyance with the Despicable Me minions because of their use in “unfunny Facebook memes” before immediately leaving for a week of PTO – so I bought streamers and construction paper to give his desk a blue skirt, cut out yellow construction paper to put around the frame of his computer monitor, and lightly taped a big goggled-eyeball and tongue face to the center of his monitor to make his desk into a minion. I also found Minion gummi snacks at Costco and scattered them over the surface of his desk, and asked our facilities team to borrow one of their banana-shaped wet floor signs to also leave on his desk. He got a kick out of it when he returned and shared the fruit snacks with the rest of the floor.

    The last was the easiest to pull off and brought the most joy – our office had ergonomic desk chairs with a series of levers and knobs to adjust, so the seat depresser was conveniently located on another knob that was hard to notice. I raised the seat to its tallest height and rubberbanded the seat depresser so when the seat’s owner arrived first thing in the morning they would be gently but inexplicably lowered to the shortest setting. He tried to replicate that on me the next day!

  117. Just @ me next time*

    I happened to start at my organization the week after April Fool’s Day. On my first day in the office, my boss recommended I spend some time poking around the organization’s intranet to get familiar with the culture and what was new.

    I didn’t realize it at the time, but there’s a tradition in my organization of posting silly, obviously fake articles on April 1. The first one I opened was supposedly about local food trucks. The food trucks featured included one with chocolate-covered bugs, another with mud pies, and a proponent of the ultra-local food movement serving seaweed from the local waterway. I’m embarrassed to admit I thought it was real, to the point I even googled the mud pie restaurant (thinking of the chocolate desserts traditionally called mud pies).

    It wasn’t until I opened the next article (supposedly about local animals nearby up for adoption) and saw a write up about Chewbacca that I figured out it was a prank.

  118. Indisch blau*

    Our semi-annual sales meeting fell on April 1 one year. We briefly considered some form of harmless prank, i.e. hanging the graphics on the walls in the conference room upside down, but didn’t dare because our CEO takes the meeting so seriously.

  119. NervousHoolelya*

    One of my spouse’s coworkers was out on extended leave for a while. When she returned, their team decorated her office for every holiday she had missed while she was out (from roughly November 2019 to mid-February 2020): Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Diwali, Christmas, New Year, Groundhog Day, Lunar New Year, and Valentine’s Day. In addition to whatever other decorations his coworkers brought in (banners, fairy lights, tree, etc.), my kids and I contributed a few dozen holiday-themed coloring pages for the festivities.

    She left it all up for a good long while. In fact, they may still be there, since this went down shortly before they all started WFH because of the pandemic.

  120. Rachel in NYC*

    A friend, J, just told me this one.

    He works at a research lab and they get almost daily emails inviting them to submit articles to fake conferences and journals overseas. All of the emails starts the same- think Regarding your daily llama.

    My friend’s boss has a rule on his email that sends these (any email containing “regarding your daily llama”) to a folder so he doesn’t have to deal with them. One day his boss asked him why J never responded to his email. J had.

    J’s email started with Regarding your daily llama.

    His boss laughed.

  121. Annie*

    We had somehow acquired a glamour-shots type photo of an employee who’d left (voluntarily, on good terms). Someone hung the photo in an IT guy’s messy cubicle, and it took weeks for him to notice. From there, it went from desk to desk, cube to office, and eventually made its way to the CEO’s desk, where he had an entire section of framed family photos. It only took him a day or so to see it, and he took it good-naturedly.

  122. DoubleE*

    My team had a small budget as part of a morale event and wanted to spend part of it on live goldfish (it’s a long, and not super interesting story) but our manager said no. So a few weeks later while our manager was away on business travel, we sent him an email saying that someone had left some goldfish in his office, but not to worry, we’d look after them until he got back. We also covered his webcam so he couldn’t remote into his computer to check. When he returned from his trip and found the bag of goldfish crackers we’d left on his desk, he was pretty amused (and he told us later his kids enjoyed the goldfish crackers).

  123. Mags*

    My little prank would be getting a donut box but putting a vegetable tray in. Always good for a little chuckly.

  124. Rey*

    For someone’s birthday, we hung donuts from their office ceiling, which he thought was pretty funny so he left them up for the morning. BUT it got even better when in the middle of a phone call, they started falling down and landing on him and his desk

  125. The Starsong Princess*

    Some years ago, there was a discussion of the discomfort of a skirt and pantyhose vs a shirt and tie. One of the few guys, who was well liked and a lot of fun, exclaimed “A shirt and tie is the worst. No woman would ever wear a shirt and tie. I’d switch places with them like a shot if it meant I didn’t have to wear a tie.” The next day, he comes into work and every woman in the department, about 20 of them, is wearing a shirt and tie. He knew what he had to do and came in the next day in a rather fetching green skirt and panty hose but no tie. He admitted in the end that the tie is more comfortable and all the women were right.

  126. WVGreyLady*

    A colleague and I used to joke around a lot. I once cut out the following lines from a bag of vending machine pretzels and taped it to his office door: Fat Free – Infinitely Twisted!

    He cracked up and left it for months.

  127. momofpeanut*

    I had a new boss who was a retired police captain who was sighing one day about missing his “honor wall” (he hired into a different agency and it is frowned upon to not go ‘all in’ on your new law enforcement family.)

    I printed up 50 certificates bestowing various awards on him, such as Best Plant Waterer of 2015, Most Creative Use of Eyeglasses, and as many other stupid titles I could think of. All different certificate formats, all kinds of fonts to sign his name – and 30 years of history. I then attractively arranged them on his wall one Saturday morning.

    It stayed up a week before the director got freaked out that someone would think we weren’t ‘serious’. Of course we weren’t serious – that doesn’t mean we weren’t good.

  128. AnonymousKoala*

    Not an office prank, but one year in college I sent my roommates anonymous “Hogwarts Letters” to start a mini HP themed code cracking / scavenger hunt for them. It took them a few weeks to complete and the best part was listening to them speculate about who had started it, what the next clue would be, etc.

  129. staceyizme*

    The novelty of surprise makes comedy attractive to humans, generally. The problem with pranks is that they basically hijack another person’s resources in order to provide the gift of being startled and amused to a third party. From ragging on the less powerful or less popular to scams that pretend romance, friendship or other kinds of closeness, jokes, pranks and scams are a form of theft. When we go to hear a comic, we’ve volunteered to participate in the show. Maybe there’s a joke or three to be had at our expense. When we banter back and forth with family, friends and peers, there’s a kind of parity in play. You lob a humor ball, balloon or bomb… I throw one back… now we have a “thing” going. But the thing with humor generally and pranks specifically is that you have to know your audience to avoid overstepping. And you’re NEVER going to know that it will land the way you intend, even assuming that your intentions are good. People suffer setbacks all of the time. You don’t know if they’re feeling ill, just had a fight with a spouse, just received news of a layoff or if they’re struggling with in-law issues, financial issues…. you don’t know. So- don’t prank! Especially in the school or the office: people have no choice about the need to be there, they have allotted only so much time, energy and engagement to get things done there and any miscalculation on the part of the prankster can have unintended consequences for the one being pranked. Want to laugh? Laugh at yourself, laugh at situations, whimsy or commonly acknowledged funny-isms. Comics, funny videos, puns- the world is rife with opportunities to laugh. Humor, though, is sometimes aggressive. It conceals the emotional or physical “cut” with its attendant sting in laughter. It doesn’t belong in an office in the form of pranks, insults or any sort of “put-down”. No matter how funny you think that it might be, it’s best left to the professionals in a work context. (And arguably, in many other contexts where space is shared and felt experiences of living diverge.)

  130. Zephy*

    Not me, but back in the 90s my mom worked for an insurance company that had a healthy prank culture. Just standard mildly-inconvenient office pranks – stealing a mouse’s trackball (back when mice had those), plugging your mouse or keyboard into your cubemate’s CPU, stealing or rearranging keys on a keyboard to spell juvenile words like FART (not as effective on touch-typers, to be fair). They also had some fake plastic dog poop that would routinely make appearances on people’s chairs, in their desks, etc.

    My current team decorates offices for people’s birthdays. We have multiple HAPPY BIRTHDAY banners, someone gets balloons, and we have Happy Birthday confetti that gets sprinkled over the person’s desk. It’s big confetti, so it’s easy to sweep into a pile and put back in the bag for the next person – it’s not like tiny glitter that you’ll never get rid of or anything like that. They do things like that for other big life stuff, too – I told my boss I got engaged last year on a Friday, and came in the next Monday to balloons and streamers shaped like diamond rings, LMAO.

  131. Sunshine*

    I’ll start by saying this was not well received, sadly. We had a grab bag gift exchange and I bought a nice picture frame at the 20 price point. I thought it would be fun and silly to have my five person department pose family photo style and put in the frame. I expected they would just put in their own picture. Everyone thought it was hilarious. Except the person who picked it. I tried to explain but it didn’t help.

    1. comityoferrors*

      Awww, this one is so cute! I would’ve loved this. Nice frames are expensive and the department photo is a lovely touch – what a bummer that it wasn’t received well by that person.

    2. buzzbuzzbeepbeep*

      For the work gift exchange one year, I gave an 8X10 autographed portrait of myself as a gift. There was a gift card attached to the back!

  132. Gerblies*

    I’m a huge fan of light hearted office pranks! Changing someone’s background is always fun and generally safe. During the holidays, someone changed the doorbell sound to a Christmas song. I also had a coworker who played audio of a cat meowing on repeat outside the manager’s office. She spent a good 15 minutes thinking there was a cat somewhere in the office. Photoshop has also given us many good, but lighthearted, pranks!

  133. Drago Cucina*

    I made a fake schedule one year (this was in our days of paper schedules). Instead of circulation, reference desk, etc., it had outlandish things such as rearranging the fiction section by color and than height of books, get your toothbrush and scrub the men’s restroom. The one person who thought it was serious laughed at herself. The next day she brought me a vase filled with old toothbrushes and a wilted flower.

    There have been the hiding of Nicholas Cage photos, pasting an odd photo of a guy in spandex leggings (from Betabrand packaging if you’ve ever seen it) on a calendar, etc. The best was the person who kidnapped a co-worker’s FunkoPop collection and replaced them with potatoes decorated to look like the characters. At the end of the week the real characters returned, plus an additional one. Funny and not mean, plus a bonus prize.

    1. Zephy*

      My sister was an RA in college and her floor Caged her as a prank – SO MANY tiny wallet-size Nic Cage faces stuck in the weirdest places.

  134. Zookreeper*

    I’m a zookeeper and one that occurs in our “office” I like to call “surprise tarantula”! Its not what you’re thinking… Tarantulas will shed their exoskeleton as they grow (just like a snake sheds its skin). But what is crazy about when tarantulas do it, is their shed looks like an EXACT copy of them. They just kind of slowly pop out of it and when you discover that they have shed it looks like you suddenly have an extra tarantula in the tank. So keepers will pull out the shed exoskeleton and then HIDE it in various places for other people to find. Usually a manager’s desk or a coworker’s locker. Upon discovery there is usually a loud string of expletives, and then uproarious laughter. None of us are actually scared of the tarantulas we work with, but nobody likes being surprised by one!

  135. Peruna*

    We had some gentle computer-oriented pranks. One would have a little snowfall of pixels descending from the top of the screen, accumulating on the bottom but not interfering with any work. Another was a “screen-melting” effect, which would affect the text and cause it to distort and gradually slide downward.

    Once my boss cause my machine to apologise every time something failed — a program would error and follow the error message with “I’m so sorry” or “I don’t know what’s happening” or “don’t worry, it’ll be alright.”

    Somebody wrote an accurate “crashed screen” simulation — analogous to the “blue screen of death” on Windows machines — that was really just a program running, but acted like the computer had crashed hard and wouldn’t properly reboot.

  136. SaraSci*

    Finally, something I can respond to! I’m a high school teacher and a school I taught at had sanctioned senior pranks on the senior’s last day of school. The principal would let kids in the night before and supervise what they did to make sure nothing went too far (or got stolen or broken) and it was amazing the next morning (rooms filled with balloons, someone’s whole room would be switched with another person’s, etc.). My favorite was one year my AP Chemistry students vowed to hang my lab tables from the ceiling and I kept telling them that it wasn’t possible…I came in that morning to find every periodic table and chart hanging from the ceiling. I couldn’t stop laughing. It was so great I actually kept a periodic table there to make it easier to see for everyone. They also shoved/hid business cards saying “you’ve been pranked by the class of 2017” in EVERYTHING the teachers owned or used. I’m still finding them now and it makes me smile whenever I find one.

  137. Silly Janet*

    Years ago we filled my supervisor’s office with balloons. She thought it was fun and all, and then we gave her a tiny wrapped box. She completely freaked thinking there was a bug or even a fake bug inside (she was borderline phobic about insects). She was kicking the box down the hallway (a school!) and screaming. We convinced her there was no bug in the box and she finally opened it. It was a pin to pop all the balloons.

  138. Anon today*

    My family is still fully remote due to the pandemic. The kid has started to make tea and will offer it to us parents as well. I should mention that I frequently forget to finish my tea and complain that it’s freezing again.
    Today I was handed a mug at the start of a long meeting, told not to let it freeze this time, and of course I only had a sip before I forgot about it. At the end of the meeting I went to take a sip, and it stayed in the mug… the kid had made it with gelatin!

  139. MissDisplaced*

    I worked at a company where it was a thing to prank people who were out on vacation. Some were quite funny and harmless, but others may have been perceived as veering into mean territory.

    > Replacing someone’s work chair with a toilet (a clean one) as the “Seat of Authority” and making their cube look like a bathroom complete with draped toilet paper.
    > Covering an office with Post It notes. Like everything covered, like wallpaper.
    > Turning someone’s cube upside down. Even the furniture was suspended upside down.
    > Turning someone’s cube into a beach with sand, beach chairs and everything.
    > For me, they plastered by office with photocopies of kids making faces, because somehow they were convinced I hated kids (because I was 42 and childless by choice). I don’t hate kids just because I chose not to have any, but this could’ve been construed as being mean. And honestly, it was really sexist.

    I’m all for a good prank, but some of these were so elaborate and a waste of reams of paper, time and office supplies. I was finding photocopies stuck in everything for months! Hate to be a killjoy, but it was all a waste sometimes.

  140. Who Doesn't Love Josh Groban?*

    My boss had been to see Josh Groban twice in concert and, I’ll be honest, we all found that hilarious. We had fishbowl offices – floor to ceiling windows instead of an interior wall. So one year, the night before her birthday, two of us stayed late and totally wallpapered her windows with photos of Josh Groban with a speech bubble saying, “Hey, girl… happy birthday.” She kept them up for two weeks afterward!

    Two birthdays later, she had left and gone to another job, and we conspired with her assistant to leave a cardboard cutout of the same image, and the same “Hey, girl… happy birthday” speech bubble, in her kitchen (we actually said it could be her office, but the assistant insisted that her kitchen would be way better).

  141. Dr. Laura*

    My late father spent his final working years as a shipping clerk for a mail-order company after a long career in banking. He loved the shipping clerk job and his co-workers loved him–and he was older than most of them and very particular and invested in the work in ways that they were not (just his personality), so he was eminently prankable.

    At one point, it so happened that his work computer had just been replaced a few weeks before he was due to go on vacation. The bosses made it very clear that no one was allowed to mess with Dad’s computer while he was away because they knew it would upset him (correct). Instead, his co-workers collected empty shipping boxes and cut and piled them to fit over his desk, chair, and computer. When he got back from vacation, his workstation was completely obscured by cardboard boxes but no one had laid a hand on his computer or anything else. He got a huge kick out of it. I think I might have a picture somewhere.

  142. Darth Mom*

    A couple coworkers and I wanted to play a joke on the rest of our HR team. We put a paperclip on the glass of the printer, made about 20 copies, and then put those back in the paper drawer… so when people made copies, it looked like there was a paperclip stuck inside the copier somewhere. We headed off to grab our lunches from the breakroom and when we came back, our HR Director and another SVP from the C-Suite were on their knees taking apart the copier to find the paperclip. We nearly died. We fessed up quickly and all got a great laugh out of it. Lucky that our boss had a great sense of humor… SVP a little less so, but I think he actually appreciated the rapport on our team with our boss. Whew!!

  143. What’s Spanish for Jaydee?*

    Back in high school, we had a substitute teacher in Spanish class one day. He was a nice enough guy (and a fairly regular sub in the building) but spoke zero Spanish and didn’t have amazing classroom management skills, so not a whole lot of learning got done that day.

    One of my classmates spoke semi-fluent Spanish because he had family that were native speakers. I spoke…pretty good high school Spanish. Classmate decided to tell the sub he was from Cuba and didn’t speak much English, and I “interpreted.” The sub either bought it completely (I remember him asking my classmate what it was like living there under the Castro regime and seeming genuinely fascinated) or was a surprisingly good actor and went home to tell his family and friends about the ridiculous sh1t he had to up with as a substitute teacher. Come to think of it we probably got better Spanish practice that day than we usually did….

  144. Nick*

    Worked in a school district with some awesome co-workers. Co-workers hung up “Chewbacca Roar Contest” posters up around the school with my phone extension after I left for the day with the directions to call this number and leave your best Chewbacca “roar: on my answering machine and the winner would get a Wawa gift card. I came in the next morning with some very interesting messages. Especially since I didn’t know about the “contest”. Once they explained to me what was going on, it all made sense!

    1. Rocket Woman*

      My coworkers did the same to me! Not a school though. Great prank, harmless and fun!

  145. K8M*

    I’m not sure how long it’s been since I submitted the coffee prank- but I just came back to the blog today after a year off, because I’m finally in a new job after being laid off at the start of the pandemic. It was funny for me to read it and then about halfway through go: “Wait…. I know this story!” and realize it was mine!

  146. Colette*

    This was back during the high-tech boom, when people were changing jobs frequently and I worked for a tech company. My manager was near retirement and had a lot of vacation time, so he took the month of August off. Not 4 weeks, or from a Monday to a Friday, but August 1 – 31.

    I sat directly across from him. I packed up all of my stuff (mostly into my overhead bins and drawers) so my cubicle looked totally empty. Everyone else on the team had moving boxes, some partially filled, some waiting to be filled. We printed off moving labels for the entire team, with a different building/floor for each person (so that it looked like we were moving to new jobs and not moving as a group). We warned our director, then doctored the org chart to remove all of our names and replace them with a note that said “I need to talk to you about your staffing problem” signed by the director.

    And then we went out for breakfast on September 1.

    It was glorious. (He laughed, once we finally showed up.)

  147. Ex Themed Employee*

    Worked in a theme park once that had also been a movie studio. In one of the spaces that was occasionally rented out for special events, there were a lot of props stored. Including a life-size statue of Pocahontas. We had a manager that had a dislike for turnstiles at attraction entrances (to count guests), and had a crusade of removing them whenever possible. However, he kept one in his office, for some reason.

    On March 31, this particular manager had an opening shift, and would also be opening the next day. After he left on the 31st, we took the Pocahontas statue, dressed her in a rain jacket from our “water special effects show”, fashioned a skirt by pinning 2 towels together, then put her in a golf cart, and drove her over to the manager’s office. We set the turnstile up so that it was right in the middle of the doorway, and set Pocahontas so she was walking out of the turnstile to get out of the office.

    I was off on the 1st, so I didn’t get to see his reaction, but the next time I worked, Pocahontas had been moved to our breakroom, and was now wearing a hard hat and safety vest.

  148. LK*

    I’ve got a bunch. At one of my first office jobs – when my team lead was out we banded together and bubble wrapped his chair, computer, phone and entire cube. He got a kick out of it when he came back. This inspire me to stay late at another job when I had a member of my team who LOVED her birthday. She had a count down and mentioned it to everyone. So I got a bunch of gift wrapping paper and my boss and I stayed late the night before to wrap her cube to look like a present. Made a giant bow and everything. I made sure to get in early that day because I couldn’t wait to see her reaction. She loved it.

    In a more recent job, I was the candy dish gal. I knew I was going be out for April 1st. Shortly after Valentine’s day, the candy was super discounted so I bought one of those HUGE Hershey Kisses for twenty five cents and left just that in my dish. I don’t know if anyone noticed, but that’s my mildest one that I’m proud of doing.

    I also worked at a part time gig that had cardboard goats at a photo booth for some event. I thought it would be funny to send one of my bosses a photo of the goat in her chair “working”. I rarely saw her in person as I only worked one day a week. I then decided to take it a step further and took photos of the goat doing other things at our place of business and made a video montage and e-mailed it to her. She thought that was great.

  149. gingersnap*

    My old office had a penchant for mild good humored pranks. Two gems include:

    – swapping two coworkers’ wedding photos that they each had hung on their office walls. One noticed right away but we convinced him to wait and see how long it took the other. Weeks later we had to clue him in after the wrong photo was on prominent display when a visiting VIP wandered by. Oops!

    – When the entire office was heading out to a conference, the interns mentioned that they wanted to play a prank on a certain coworker but couldn’t think of anything. I replied, “she hates bananas” and left. When we returned they’d printed out clipart bananas and put them everywhere – in books, desk drawers, even hanging from the ceiling. They were great interns.

  150. yellowpolkadots*

    I used to work in a small office (7 people) where everyone was super friendly and casual. We all had office with doors and when my coworker went on a two week vacation, we turned his office door area into a front porch. We got a screen door from habitat for humanity and drilled it to his frame, found an old lawn chair, put down a welcome mat, found this obnoxious candle from habitat for humanity that looked like a giant pitcher of iced tea. It was hilarious. When he got back he was stuck with the screened door since we made it permanent. The best was anytime he entered or left his office the screen door like “smacked” and made a loud noise. He finally took it down after a month or so but it was probably the highlight of my time at my old job.

  151. Marzipan*

    We often have a quick quiz in the office – one person sets questions and acts as quizmaster while everyone else jumps in with answers. On one occasion, though, we all waited until another colleague was out of the room and then collectively came up with a set of really obscure questions, which everyone was primed to answer in detail. When she came back and the quiz got underway, it took aaages before she started to wonder how we were all so well-informed! (To this day we all remain unusually knowledgeable about the invention of applicator tampons…)

  152. Not that Anne, the other Anne.*

    A few years ago, all of my team except me went to some kind of team-building brainstorming all-day future directions seminar. I was happy to be left out because “team-building brainstorming all-day future directions seminar” for me is “about as fun as digging post holes with a plastic spoon”. At the end of the day, the attendees gathered up all the electrostatic sticky notes they’d been using for Vision Boarding and deposited them … all over my office. Monitor, chair, bookcase, books, keyboard, phone, dry-erase board, under the chair mat, on the recycle bin, in the fluorescent lights, literally everywhere. My office was covered in multicolored electrostatic sticky notes. The instigator said they didn’t want me to feel left out of the seminar. :D

    It was the prank that kept on giving, too, because the sticky notes were squarish and brightly colored and very electrostatic, so I used them for 8-bit art on a nearby wall for YEARS.

    (Also, if this has just outed me to any coworkers who read AAM, Hi!)

  153. irene adler*

    This didn’t happen for April Fools Day, but nonetheless was a prank.

    A co-worker would go on and on about October being her birth month. Okay…her birthday was in October. Everyone has a birth month in similar fashion. No, no. She celebrates her birthday the ENTIRE month of October.
    So there’s birthday decor in her office on 01 October. And it spills out and into the hall way. Gifts appear throughout the month. Don’t know from whom. And all month long she constantly mentions its her birth month.

    Okay, she’s a little over the top with this.

    So the next year, I bought 31 birthday cards- all different types. Mostly humorous ones. And posted one every evening. Disguised my handwriting on the envelope, got others (not at work) to address the envelopes, no two looked alike. Even posted from different post offices. No signature on the inside.

    She LOVED it. Had no idea who was doing it.
    She tried to figure out who it was by comparing the handwriting. She asked co-workers if they knew who was doing this. No one knew.

  154. Anonymous for this*

    Prank + random act of kindness.

    I worked with a team in one city, and volunteered with a local organization in a nearby town. I had a favorite coffee mug that lived at the office, which I’d had for about 8 years, with the name of the volunteer organization – it wasn’t just attractive, but the only one I owned that was just small enough in diameter to fit into a small indentation everyone had in their desk (like the ones on airplane trays). One winter, I opened an email and learned after the fact that the volunteer organization wasn’t actually making merchandise anymore – there hadn’t been room in the budget for about 3 years. I asked whether there were any extras – mainly because I had quietly realized at my day job I was attached to the mug and didn’t have a good plan for finding another one. Sadly, no – there were a couple of T-shirts in a drawer. Maybe I self up a self-fulfilling prophecy, because the next WEEK, I tripped on the way into the kitchen and the mug ended up in about 16 pieces. At least there were no injuries. I cleaned it up and went to a thrift shop and bought the smallest diameter coffee mug they had, but it was still SLIGHTLY too big so that I could only put it into the cup holder slot at an awkward angle.

    On April 1 I came to work and there was a NEW mug with the same volunteer organization and the same date printed underneath it, just sitting in the indentation on my desk. It looked like it had never even been used. So someone at my day job had worked out that I’d really liked this mug, looked up the volunteer organization, gotten in touch with them, and managed to find someone who had an extra one in their house somewhere that they were willing to part with. Or that’s what I have to guess happened. Everyone denied everything.

    I now work from home, but to this day, I am careful when carrying the unexpected replacement mug around!

  155. Emma the Strange*

    A coworker who’s wife is pregnant and due any day now announced she’d unexpectedly given birth to twins… each over 12lbs and with embarassingly stupid pun names.

  156. Anon for this*

    These were college rather than work pranks but I thought people might appreciate them.

    When I was in college there was a competitor in the Olympics that had gone to high school nearby. One of my college friends had gone to school w/ her and didn’t like her for some reason, and was low-level annoyed at having to hear about her in the newspaper all the time. Because of the local connection and the fact that she was doing really well (she won a couple of golds), they did SO MUCH coverage of her in our local paper. He complained about this off and on for a week or two, then went on vacation and had a mutual friend come in to water his plants or something. I had saved up newspaper clippings, and so the mutual friend and I decorated his closet: the top said, “[Name of Athlete]’s Biggest Fan!” and then we taped up all of the articles, full page-sized photos, etc. He was super amused when he got back and left it up for the rest of the year.

    This was also back when the Internet was still a shiny new toy and everyone was sending around chain letters. My roommate and I (who are still great friends) got multiple versions of one that was called “X number of ways to confuse and annoy your roommate” (with the X being different for each email). We thought they were amusing and so tried to act them out on each other whenever possible and when not annoying (we never did get around to gluing the other person’s furniture to the ceiling, for example….) She left to study abroad the second semester of our first year rooming together, and so before she left I printed up the list, cut out the different suggestions, and hid them in her stuff. Here as a bookmark, there in the back of an old notebook, in her tape player, tucked inside her passport…. There were hundreds of them and I couldn’t possibly have found room for them all, but I sure tried! (I made sure she’d find our favorites right away….) Years later she was still finding them. I did a similar prank a few years later when a good friend was graduating; I wrote up a list of “[Graduating Friend]’s favorite college memories”, cut them out, and hid them through her stuff. She spent months finding them all and being reminded of fun things she’d done with us.

    1. Mitford*

      The Chronicle of Higher Education once invited readers to submit their best campus pranks, and this one was a classic.

      A group of students once sat in a classroom duly waiting the requisite 15 minutes for their professor to show up. After 15 minutes (probably closer to 20 for good measure), they departed, assuming that he wasn’t coming in that day.

      At the next class, the professor lit into them for leaving, telling him that they should have known he was there because he’d left his hat on the desk in the front of the room. The students were less than amused by his behavior.

      At the class following that, the professor walked into find a hat on every single student desk and absolutely no students. The professor finally got the message.

  157. Rocket Woman*

    Once, I was out of town for a whole week at a work conference. Due to time change and a busy schedule, I wasn’t checking email much but finally did Friday afternoon to find I had 12 missed calls including from very high up people! I thought I must have really screwed something up. I listened to the first voicemail to find that they were all wookie impressions, no explanation, just “Hey Rocket Woman it’s Han and here is my wookie impression” *cue roaring*. I come in Monday to signs posted everywhere telling people to call my work number and leave a wookie impression. They had a whole contest planned so I dove into it and made scoring criteria and announced the winners, and the mastermind behind the prank got us all prizes! It was great fun.

  158. Mitford*

    I once worked in a university office that was one of several offices in the basement of a very rowdy men’s dorm. You never know what was going to happen upstairs or what you were going to find when you pulled up to work on a Monday morning. I vividly remember the janitor for our offices using my telephone to complain to her supervisor that she wasn’t paid enough to have to climb over a Coke vending machine (that had been tossed out a window by the dorm residents) in order to get inside to do her job.

    Anyhow, my office was for the fund raising telethon for the university. My boss worked nights with the callers, and then I came in in the morning, tallied results, and mailed out pledge reminders. My boss would always call me around 10:00 to get the totals.

    On April Fool’s day, when he called in, I was ready. “Oh my God, John, the guys upstairs must have burst pipes or something, because when I came in the office was flooded and all the pledge cards were ruined.” After he gasped a few times, I said, “April Fool’s!”

  159. No Sleep Till Hippo*

    One of my favorite jobs was working the front desk at a tiny temp agency. There were only six of us total, including the two owners, and we all got along really well.

    Bossman went on vacation for a couple of days, and it was pretty slow in the office, so I broke out a supply of stick-on googly eyes a friend had given me as a gag gift. We covered EVERYTHING in his office with googly eyes. Mouse, screen, stapler, office plants, posters, ceiling tiles… anything we could possibly reach.

    I left that job almost two years ago, and I still occasionally get a photo when he finds a new one. :)

  160. MuseumChick*

    One of my co-workers LOVES dogs, has three of them, it’s one of his defining traits. We changed his computer background screen to a cat, put a removable label on his desk that said “Cats rule and dogs drool!” And covered a wall in his off with printouts of cats from the internet. He laughed for like 15 minutes straight when he saw it.

  161. Sleepless*

    In a very large Facebook group I belong to, somebody posted her husband’s cell number and his name and asked people to please text him and ask him about the llama he has for sale. (I’m not just saying “llama” to fit in with the llama groomer theme, she really said a llama.) He got a couple hundred texts before other people started asking people to text their husbands too. I didn’t have the heart to do it to my husband because he is just too jumpy for such highjinks during the workday, but I was tempted.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      I had forgotten all about this until seeing this post, but where I live some guy was once thoroughly confused when his friends put up posters with his number on, claiming he’d lost his pet “Fangs the Tarantula” and offering a reward for its safe return! He got a few strange phone calls and it caused panic among people in the area when it got shared on social media. The local paper rang the number on the posters and the guy just said his friends had done it as some kind of joke.

  162. Ayla K*

    I worked at a bank, and the dress code was business casual. Most of the male employees wore suit jackets or button-downs with slacks, and dress shoes. Director-level employees had administrative assistants (usually shared with 1-2 other directors) who managed their calendars.

    On March 31st, an admin was meeting with her director, who had been hired a month or two earlier, to go over his calendar for the next couple of days. He saw that he had a client dinner in the city, and checked with her on the dress code, since he wasn’t familiar with the restaurant. She quickly responded that it was black tie, and recommended he wear a tux.

    Since his calendar was full and he wouldn’t have time to change before the dinner, he showed up the next morning, April 1st, at 7:45 a.m….in his tux. Cummerbund and all.

    The entire admin team (and me, a junior analyst who always got into the office early) burst out laughing, but he TOTALLY took it in stride and spent the day peacocking in front of the other directors who poked fun at him. He even went to Starbucks to pick up coffees for all the admins – when one of the baristas commented that it was a little early in the day for a tux, he responded “nah, this is my outfit from last night!” It remains the best April Fools joke I’ve experienced.

  163. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    I inadvertently pranked my boss twice at an old job.

    The first time was about a month after I’d been hired. I’ve been into programming and computers since around age 8, and one of my friends’ fathers growing up was a professional programmer and knew about RSIs and carpal tunnel; the family used trackballs and once I saw and tried one, I was hooked. Well, I’d asked my supervisor and she’d agreed to let me bring in and use a spare trackball at my workstation; I came in one day and she was picking it up and moving it around, trying to manipulate the cursor with it as if it were a mouse and getting extremely frustrated.

    The second time was about eighteen months later. My sense of humor skews dark already, and when I started going over to GNU/Linux, I fell in love with the BSoD xscreensaver immediately. Each of our desks at that office had an old PowerPC Mac in addition to a Windows notebook, and I found a copy of the BSoD screensaver for OSX that just played the Windows’ Blue Screen of Death. I came in the next day to the entire IT Support staff waiting in my group’s work area for a conversation with me about the dozens of helpdesk tickets that had been opened that morning.

    The only intentional prank I pulled was to send a order through Q.A. translated entirely into Latin.* The Q.A. tech I was trying to prank had gotten busy, so it ended up going to the one who didn’t share my sense of humor. I think there’s still a rule there that Management has to sign off of anything other than English in a project.

    *I’m not cruel; the English version was the next one in the queue.

  164. it_guy*

    The best prank I got was VERY many years ago. A colleague left a “while you were out” post-it on my desk reminding me of my upcoming appointment with Dr Kevorkian.

  165. A.M.*

    I’m a school librarian. One year on senior prank day a couple of my favorites snuck in and filled my office with balloons. It was adorable, still makes me smile.

  166. hillia*

    We once set a coworker’s default font size to something ridiculously huge, like 60, and told him it was a new HR directive to prevent eyestrain in employee’s over 50. We also once set his keyboard to Dvorak layout, and set his Windows color scheme to Hotdog Stand (for you younglings, it was a hellish bright orange and yellow – the title bars on all the windows, the background, etc). All easily reversed in about 10 seconds.

  167. Blue Eagle*

    It was my boss’s birthday and she was on the phone with her door closed. So we taped crepe paper streamers across the door from the top to the bottom so when she opened her door she faced a wall of crepe paper streamers.
    She made a digusted sound at first till she started taking them down and on the back of each streamer was a razor for shaving legs. The prior day she complained about her daughter always taking her razor. Once she found the first razor she started laughing and laughed herself silly as she took each streamer down from the doorway.
    And brought cupcakes for us the next day!

  168. Calyx Teren*

    I’m well known as a tea drinker, and keep an electric kettle, china teapot, teacup, and good tea at my desk. One year for my birthday, I came in to find that my team had decorated my whole cube with teabags. They were everywhere. Hundreds of them. They’d outlined the cube wall, the desk, my monitor, the photo frames, my chair… they even put some inside my file folders. I was finding teabags for years.

    1. Calyx Teren*

      One year, I was giving an annual performance review to one of my top team members. He was well liked and his excellence was obvious to everyone. When we came back to the cubes, another team member had thoughtfully placed a box on his desk; implication being that he’d be packing his things to go home. It was hilarious because it was so far from the truth. We laughed about that for years.

  169. Ciela*

    All girls’ Catholic high school. One student (who was never ID’d by the faculty) bought a copy of Playgirl on her 18th birthday. She removed the centerfold and taped it to the pull down screen, what you would use for a slide show, or film projector, in the Biology teacher’s classroom. Within a week, he pulled down the screen to show a film, and without missing a beat, said “this is an example of the male anatomy!” Much giggling and snickering ensued.

  170. Toasted Souls of the Damned*

    Pre pandemic, My team and I had been hiding a thing in each other’s belongings at work. Someone managed to slip it into a coworkers box when she packed up to go home. She kept it several months and then mailed it to me. It made an appearance in team video I put together and ever since they have been wondering when it will show back up (I’ve been working from home a year). What they don’t know is they already have it back. With some help from a coworker and a little duct tape I’m just hanging out waiting for it to be found…

  171. Wot, no sugar?*

    I live just over the Delaware state line in Maryland and I was summoned for a federal grand jury way down in Baltimore (over a 2-hour drive on traffic via I-95). As a former agorophobe and a horribly nervous driver, I was sick about it. I did end up taking Amtrak, and they actually paid for me to stay in a decent hotel for a week, but it wasn’t pleasant! When I’m called for jury duty at the county level, it’s for a courthouse 7 miles away.

  172. AmusingSoprano*

    One year we took the desk chair and general office stuff out of one of the partner’s (law firm) room and set it all up in the mens’ toilet 2 doors down. He thought it was hilarious.

  173. Mad, mad me*

    I guess this one had a semi-terrible outcome because the victim actually sued, but it was the subject of hearty merriment locally as all facts ended up in the newspaper. Also, I believe the case was eventually dismissed.
    A young guy underwent a colonoscopy at a hospital’s imaging unit where he was employed. His buddies decided to pull a prank so that when he awoke, he found himself wearing a pair of ladies’ pink lacy undies. Unfortunately, he wasn’t amused and decided to sue.
    The consensus was that he lacked a sense of humor, and it turned out that he had actually participated in similar antics, which I believe contributed to the case’s disposition (he even sued for loss of his wife’s “consortium”). As far as I know, no one was fired, but it was a hell of a prank and a great topic of conversation for a while.

  174. arkangel*

    I had a supervisor that was a great guy, but loved pranking people. He had a prank war going with a couple of my colleagues. I wasn’t a part of it because I come across as being more straight laced than I actually am. One day I see his huge golf umbrella outside his office and in a moment of inspiration, I load it up with confetti we had lying around and go about my day.

    Supervisor leaves for the day and the confetti gets him. After cleaning it up, he thinks my colleague did it and revenge pranks her. The look on his face when he I told him it was me was priceless!

  175. arkangel*

    I had a supervisor that started a prank war with my colleagues. I wasn’t involved as I come across as being more straight laced than I actually am. One day I saw he left his huge golf umbrella outside his office. In a moment of inspiration I loaded it with some confetti we had lying around and then go about my day. I found out later the confetti did its thing as planned. After the he cleaned it up, he revenge pranked the person he thought had done it. The look on his face when I told him it was me was priceless!

  176. Phil*

    Someone went to the effort of printing out a hundred or so tiny photos of Nicholas Cage (and even cutting each one out individually to remove the background) and hiding them all over the office. Most people’s monitors had one stuck to the top so old Nicky would watch them work. I was finding some even months later.

  177. Mr. Random Guy*

    This one is kind of mild, but all the picture ones reminded me of it. I once printed out a small (about 3×5) picture of Abraham Lincoln for a lesson I taught. Once the lesson was over, on an impulse, I hid it in a coworker’s office. A few days later, I found it hidden in my office, while my coworker claimed Mr. Lincoln must just have moved himself. We went back and forth a few times, then it suddenly stopped. I figured my coworker had gotten bored and tossed the picture, but I still mentioned it on my last day. Her jaw dropped, then she laughed and told me she thought I’d kept the picture. Apparently she still hadn’t found Abe in the last place I put him. I told her I wasn’t telling and we both laughed. It was really a highlight of my last day working there.

  178. BBB*

    the last office I was in, the boss hid a remote door bell beeper in the ceiling over someones desk. everyone else in the room knew about it (except the one employee directly underneath) and they all pretended not to notice when it went off. dude spent all day trying to figure it out

  179. EvilQueenRegina*

    It was a thing at one previous job to have a stuffed animal on our desks, and this one guy was fond of arranging them into…compromising positions for us to find first thing in the morning. I once had to remove them from our manager’s desk like that.

  180. ColdFeets*

    Back when I worked in retail we had plastic name badges that you slipped a bit of paper into with your name. There was a special “program” on the computer that put your name in the standard font and size, and added job titles for department heads and up. Only the administrative assistant had access to this program…

    But I did a lot of hobby-level graphics stuff. I recognised the font, and quickly worked out the font sizes for the name and the job title. I adapted my own badge so it had my name and “Secret Agent” as the job title (I worked in the deli section of a supermarket). All the staff who noticed wanted in on it, so I made up paper inserts with job titles like “Professional Trainee”, “Attorney at Law”, “3 kids in a trenchcoat”. I also made up a “Dr. Fergus MacDonald” name badge for a guy on checkout who had a PhD. After that, people were asking for name badges with their university majors as the job title. That actually helped improve morale more than the joke ones – we talked with each other more about that stuff, and customers started to act a lil more respectful.

  181. NoIDontEatAnts*

    Years ago (around 1999) I worked overnights at a radio group with several stations. I am not a fan of April Fools pranks, but one occurred to me – we got faxes overnight, which I had to distribute to the relevant inboxes. And I knew we had ancient typewriters in a supply closet. So I made up an “FCC memo” which stated that *any* broadcast had to be transcribed and submitted *in triplicate* weekly to the FCC. Made it very official – “song lyrics need not be transcribed, but other communications – including morning shows, weather bulletins, and the like – are subject to FCC inspection and must be transcribed” and so on. I absolutely didn’t think anyone would buy it, but as the morning DJs came in, there was in fact cussing and at least one angrily flung typewriter up on the counter behind the sound board.

    I didn’t let it go far; someone else was looking for carbon paper when I popped in and said “April Fools!” But I thought it was fun.

  182. CoveredInBees*

    I generally loathe pranks, because it’s hard to balance funny against hurtful and harmful. That said, I LOVE THE BROWN Es PRANKSTER. Not only for the gentleness of the prank, the pun involved, but also having actual brownies on hand at the end.

  183. anonaprank*

    I work in the library at two elementary schools (this started in 2012, after this prank). This prank happened several years ago at the larger of my two schools–we have a Principal and VP–they used to be out for meetings at central office one day each month. When one or both are out, permanent contract teachers fill in their positions for the day (called Teacher(s) in Charge–TIC) with subs hired for the classrooms. Mr. W was our principal at the time.

    One day (not April Fool’s) he and the VP were out for the monthly meeting–the TICs were two teachers who’d worked with Mr. W for several years–so it was close to xmas time and the two teachers–Mrs. P and Mrs. H, with some help from one of the other teachers (he did the door), wrapped EVERYTHING in his office in Christmas wrapping paper–his chair, his desk, his computer, his desk phone, the door–everything. Then I took a pic of the two TIC holding up signs that said something like “The Usual Suspects”–and I edited the picture to put black bars over their eyes (like is sometimes done in papers, etc,) to “hide” their identity. The pic was left on the desk.

    I was there when he came in the next morning–he saw the door and chuckled (and probably figured there was more to be had inside) and then he guffawed when he saw the rest of his office. Turns out he had a couple interviews happening around 9 am (school started at 8:15 and he was there by 7:45 most days)–and all he unwrapped were the things he actually needed to use.

    Before the school I worked with him at, Mr. W was the principal of my smaller school (long before I worked there). Anyhow, apparently he was always complaining that they needed an air conditioner (no, we don’t have that in most schools here)…and his secretary pulled a prank on him. She was friends with either the head of procurement and/or his secretary. She had them do up what looked like an actual PO/bill for an air conditioning system AND also arranged for a huge box to be brought to the school that looked like it had an a/c system in it. Mr. W nearly sh*t a brick thinking he’d actually ORDERED an a/c system and was wondering how he’d fix this mess–when the secretary told him the truth. He thought it was hilarious!

    He retired about 6 or 7 years ago now and I still miss him. If we tried that sort of prank on either admin I have now…yeah, heads would roll despite the one currently at larger school thinking she has a sense of humour.

  184. TheJoyOfBeingYoung*

    I used to work at a pizza place and there was this one driver that was truly obnoxious. So I took a cup of tomato sauce and ran a stream next to his windshield wipers and before he was out of the parking lot, he was back in for a towel. Later that evening, we put his car up on cinder blocks…

  185. Jules*

    “I had set a coworker’s 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.”

    Woah my brain jumped right to the cat getting set in jello. I’m so glad that wasn’t the prank!

  186. running water*

    I actually really loathe pranks as a rule, but I have seen some amusing (genuinely harmless) ones pulled off well.

    At one place I worked, we had a lot of really lovely, loyal customers who would leave really fantastic feedback about members of staff. We’d often take a sentence or phrase out of that customer feedback, and put together funny name/job title plaques for people that reflected that positive feedback. It was funny, but also a really effective way to boost morale and help staff feel both respected and appreciated in the workplace. (That said, the phrases used for these plaques was always very carefully chosen. The aim wasn’t to offend anyone, or make them feel minimised or disrespected.)

    One of my co-workers at the same office, Jane, took her daughter and some of her daughter’s friends to a Justin Bieber concert one year for her daughter’s birthday, but under sufferance. (Jane loves her heavy metal music.) One of our other co-workers, Sally, was good with Photoshop and did a photo manipulation of Bieber if he were in a heavy metal band, and put a framed print off of the finished product on Jane’s desk. Sally even mocked up Bieber’s signature and a little message for Jane.

    Jane laughed so hard when she saw it. She really loved it and always kept it on her desk. (But Sally and Jane had known each other for years and years, so Sally also knew that Jane would appreciate the gift, rather than feeling mocked by it.)

    But I have also seen some pranks backfire really badly, sometimes because they were awful pranks, and sometimes because the pranker didn’t know the prankee well enough to judge it well. What one person might find hilarious, another person might find disrespectful, annoying, confusing or just not funny.

  187. WS*

    A young male teacher at the primary school where I worked always wore brightly coloured odd socks, which was highly entertaining for small children. On April Fool’s Day that year, every single student and staff member at the school turned up in odd socks…except for him who had put on a matching pair of plain black socks for the occasion!

  188. LizM*

    In college, I worked for a company booking tours. We had our boss’s computer password because sometimes we needed to get into her system (in hindsight, not the most secure system, but I think her email had a different password, if I recall correctly). One of my coworkers took a screenshot of her desktop, then made that background and hid the icons, so when she clicked on what looked like the icon, nothing happened. The coworker let her struggle with it for a few minutes, but let her know what was going on as she was getting ready to call IT. We all had a good laugh.

    She got us later in the day by sending an email with our new “dress code” requiring company branded old timey railroad and sailor outfits (our tours included trains and boats). Her sister was a graphic designer so the email included pictures.

  189. Wilde*

    I’m a bit late to the party but hopefully someone will get a chuckle out of this.

    I used to work in the back office of a bank. As there were several teams on our floor, the team leaders worked staggered shifts in order ensure managerial coverage across the working day.

    Well, one year for April Fools, the team who worked under the manager rostered on the late shift pretended to called in sick. One, by one, by one, this guy had received a call from almost every team member while on his commute. At some point he began calling our grand boss to give him a heads up about the situation as many of the tasks performed by the team required a same day turnaround. Those of us in the office were getting hilarious play by play updates as each phone call from a team member resulted in a phone call to grand boss.

    When he arrived at the office, the team hid in the printer room until he had dropped his belongings at his desk and was getting ready to plan this now very stressful day with grand boss. Then they started coming out of the printer room, one, by one, by one. You could see the stress melt away as he realised the prank and began to laugh about the joke with the whole floor.

  190. o_gal*

    This wasn’t an April Fools Day prank, because it took place during the summer, but it was the most creative one we ever came up with. A coworker was getting married, and would be on his honeymoon when his group was moving across the street to another building. He asked us to box up his cube before he left (movers would come and move all the boxes to their new cubes.) Yes, we can do that! So we went and got extra boxes – the standard moving-office-stuff size boxes. We put one item in each box. One box had his keyboard. One box had his mouse. One box had his stapler. One box had his desk calendar. Etc. Etc. The movers dutifully moved all the boxes.

  191. ThatOldJob*

    I used to work in sales in a call center. For some reason, the marketing team once passed out a USB cabled button that if you pressed it, would override any other programs and take you directly to the marketing home page.

    A guy got hired on our team after most of the buttons were long gone, so we plugged it into the back of his computer where he couldn’t see it, and threaded the cable through the cube wall to my desk directly across from his. I’d periodically hit it at times when it wasn’t disruptive to calls, but was annoying. I kept it up for weeks, varying in escalation and timing. He restarted his computer A LOT.

    Over a month later, he escalated it to our building IT person (who was in on it, we thought he would call her on like, Day 2), who told him, Very Seriously, that he must have succumbed to a phishing attack, and she would be up there Right Away and Don’t Touch Anything This Is Very Serious How Could You Have Let It Go On This Long. We watched him scramble around for a few minutes until she came over, unplugged the button, placed it in front of him, patted him on the arm, and walked off.

    He loved it, we all had a good laugh and treated him to lunch. He got us back many times and we all had a small inner-team prank war going the entire time we worked there, it really made a difficult job more fun.

  192. Red*

    I used to work in the office on Sundays, and one Sunday fell on April 1. I brought in superglue and googly eyes, and proceeded to glue them on anything disposable — snack bags, Kcup boxes, and the Clorox wipes. It was a fun way to acknowledge the day and make my coworkers laugh on Monday when they came in.

    I’ve also done a variation of the “hide a face in various places” prank on my officemate. He was working with one lab director and was doing something with his picture a lot, so I printed out some small versions of his picture and placed them around his desk and work area, including taping one to a bobblehead and put one in the middle of his post-its. He was paranoid for months until he found the last one in his post-its–and I told him it was the last one so he wouldn’t keep wondering if there were more just waiting for him.

  193. moonmouse*

    Our manager was out for a month, so when he was due to come back we decided to get creative. He loves Jurassic Park, so we bought 400 plastic dinosaurs, printed out “Welcome to Jurassic Desk” signs, and even had a Ned peering out from his second monitor. We then lined everything on his desk and surrounding area with dinosaurs. They were collaborating to move his mouse, typing on his keyboard, doing a conga line on teh arms of his desk chair, watering his plant in the window, helping to hang the signs from teh top of his monitor.. – they were everywhere. And almost all of them had a defined “scene”

    He was reluctant to move them when he came back.

  194. EngineerMom*

    I have 3! Though one was in high school and one in college, so… not exactly work environments?

    1. In high school, our band director turned 40 the year I was a senior. We filled his entire office, floor to ceiling, with black balloons, using some cardboard to hold them in until we could shut the door, then pulled the cardboard out. We then put a big “Happy Birthday! Over the Hill!” sign in the window of the office, so he couldn’t see what was in side. When he arrived for the day and opened the door, the balloons went everywhere! He was a great sport about it, and let us just leave the balloons on the floor in the band room for the day to play with in between classes!

    2. I don’t remember the context (maybe April Fools?), but we also did a thing where we completely swapped the offices of the band director and assistant band director – furniture, computer, pictures, everything. They thought it was hilarious and kept the offices like that for about a week or so before asking us to stay after school one day and switch everything back!

    3. A good friend of mine really loved pranks in college. So my freshman year, for April Fools’, a couple of us banded together with her roommate and wrapped almost everything on her side of the bed in newspaper – individually wrapped a couple of pairs of socks (we stayed away from anything too personal), keyboard, desktop computer, mouse, screen, the whole desk, and finally her whole lofted bed (desk was underneath). She thought it was hilarious, and kind of re-pranked all of us by stashing the newspaper in random places in our own rooms! I found some at the bottom of my laundry hamper the next weekend when I went to do my laundry! XD

  195. EngineerMom*

    My favorite prank so far, though, occurred when I was in college.

    The main lecture hall in our physics building was old, and had these rows of folding seats that were all one piece, bolted to wooden supports in a tiered arrangement. A couple of students, armed with only cordless drills, snuck into the physics building the night of March 31, and turned every single row around, facing backwards away from the front of the hall. We had electronic card readers, so for them to get in and out without needing to swipe (and therefore identify themselves) was an achievement. The hilarious part was that they actually rode in the elevator back down from the floor the lecture hall was in with a security guy, who apparently didn’t notice and/or care that there were 2 students with cordless drills in the physics building at midnight.

    We all came to class the next day, and were turned away by campus maintenance. Ended up having lectures on the grass in the courtyard! It took the maintenance folks 2 days to do what 2-3 students had accomplished in just a couple hours and put all the seats back.

  196. Prank Happy Office*

    No one in my office actually picks up the phone to make a call, they all use the speaker phone (makes for a very noisy office somedays especially when multiple people are on the same call). So, knowing it wouldn’t really cause disruptions, one of my coworkers replaced some of the handsets with bananas.

    We ordered a glitter bomb once. That was kind of uneventful as the glitter all landed in one place vs going everywhere.

    Two coworkers would have a scaring each other contest. Hiding around corners, under desks, spraying those air canisters you clean keyboards with at each other.

    Covered the same guy’s office in two separate instances with packing peanuts and with big pieces of confetti.

  197. The Holey Delay LLama*

    I had a coworker/mentor who sat in the next cube over. She went on PTO for a couple days and I rearranges some of the keys on her keyboard… Not all. Just five. The vowels. I and O just were reversed.

    She was a good enough typer that she generally didn’t have to look at the keyboard…..

    She was back in the office the next day and everything went well, until mid afternoon when I hear ‘Clickety clickety’ -pause- ‘Clickerty clickety click click’ ……. “Fergus!!”

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