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22 Free or Cheap April Fools' Day Pranks

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

April Fools' Day is coming up, and just because you're cheap and lazy doesn't mean you can't take part in the most infuriating holiday ever invented by mankind. Here's a list of gags that use regular household items, so there's little to no money (or time investment) needed!

However, a disclaimer: DealNews does not claim responsibility if any of these "fun" pranks result in the loss of friends, status, job, freedom, teeth (when your victim punches you), etc.

  1. upside-down cup prank
  2. Write a message on an upside-down paper cup that alludes to something horrible being trapped under it. Leave it on a coworker's desk or in a conference room.

  3. Print out the single word "PUSH" and tape it to a door that should be pulled. This one is way more enjoyable when taped to a glass door. (Not only because you can see the chump try to push a pull door, but also because glass doors tend to make very loud/embarrassing rattles and noises when incorrectly pushed.)

  4. Cover an open toilet bowl with clear plastic wrap. This one is best done in someone else's house — unless you want to consider the clean-up your penance for playing such an old gag.

  5. Find a sleeping person (if you live in a city, you can usually find one on the subway), fill their hand with shaving cream and then tickle their nose. You can, of course, replace the shaving cream with whipped cream for a more delicious prank.

  6. Grab a plant mister (or a chemical-free spray bottle) and casually stroll behind your mark. Make a sneezing noise and spray the back of their neck at the same time. Classic! Cut out the "middle man" and just sneeze on your friend for an even grosser prank!

  7. Here's one submitted by commenter offdwall: Take all of the dots out of your office hole puncher and pour them into the defroster of a friend's car. Then, turn their heater controls to defrost and the fan to high. When your buddy starts their car: Snowstorm! The best part? Over the next six months, every once in awhile, a stray dot will pop out and fly through the air without warning. It's the prank that keeps on pranking!

    sink sprayer prank
  8. If your kitchen sink has one of those sprinkler hoses, wrap tape or a rubber band around the trigger, so it's held down. When someone goes to get a glass of water, they'll ... open the fridge and grab the Brita pitcher. But, when they go to wash that dirty glass: POW!

  9. For a more direct approach, just fill a glass of water up to the brim, then throw it in someone's face. It's totally a prank if you also scream "APRIL FOOLS'!"

  10. Put tape over the optical sensor of someone's mouse.

  11. Put tape over your spouse's eyes while they're sleeping, so they wake up and think they've gone blind.

  12. This next prank is best executed in a restaurant, as the necessary items will be on hand: Set it up by asking the sucker if they know that ketchup and salt, when combined, give off heat. If they say they never heard of such a thing, pour a healthy amount of ketchup onto a plate, then sprinkle some salt on it. Stir it with a spoon and then wave your hand over it as if you're sensing the temperature. Nod and say, "Yeah, feel the heat coming off that!" When your "friend" puts their hand over the pile, quickly slam their hand down into the mess. Then run away, before your friend punches you. (Bonus prank: If you do this in a restaurant, you're also stiffing them with the bill!)

  13. Another ketchup prank: Grab your biggest knife, then cover it and your hand in ketchup. Run into any occupied room while screaming. If you're lucky, you'll get to hear your mom curse for the first time ever! (True story.)

  14. Stretch some more plastic wrap across a doorway at shoulder height. You'll be amazed by how many people will simply walk right into it.

  15. Here's another plastic wrap prank submitted by commenter mikiem: If someone leaves their coffee or water bottle unattended, take the lid or cap off, apply plastic wrap, and replace the lid.

  16. Use a pin (like from the back of a button or brooch) to poke holes around the rim of a plastic disposable cup so that it will leak when used. Increase the excitement by then shuffling the stack of cups, so you'll never know who is going to pull the gaffed glass. It could even be you! Now that's an April Fools' trick: Fooling yourself.

  17. Here's one submitted by commenter Kyser_Soze: A fun workplace computer prank to pull on a coworker is to press ctrl+print screen on their workstation, then paste it into Paint, save the pic, and set it as the desktop background. Move all of their icons to the trash. When they get back to their desk, clicking won't accomplish anything!

    Upside-Down Monitor
  18. Here's another one that's great for a work environment: When your cubicle-neighbor gets up to grab some coffee, scamper over to their computer and press ctrl+alt+down arrow. When the chump comes back and realizes his monitor's display is upside down, he'll be so mad! Then, when he demands you change it back, you'll realize you have no idea how to restore it and you'll have to call IT. (And we all know those guys are a bunch of laughs, especially when they have to come fix some jerk's stupid prank.)

  19. If you can manage to gain access to your victim's wallet, swap their CVS ExtraCare card for yours. From then on, their purchases will be earning you ExtraBucks! (This works for all kinds of loyalty cards, of course.)

  20. Ask to see your friend's new phone because you're thinking of getting that exact model. Then, quickly do several things: 1) Set an alarm for 3 am and 2) change the language to Estonian. Hand the phone back, while grinning wickedly. They'll see that you changed the language and be really mad, but they'll assume that's the extent of your tampering ... until it's too late (or too early).

  21. Phone a friend and tell them you're a doctor, and you're very, very sorry, but you did everything you could to save their ... then pretend that the connection dropped out. Wait a couple beats, then give your deepest condolences. Then hang up. (Call from a number they won't recognize, of course.)

  22. Here's an anti-prank: Get some peanut brittle, then break it up and put it in a can. On April 1, snicker as you ask everyone, "Do you want some peanut brittle?" The mark will look at you like you're an idiot and pass, thinking the can is actually full of spring-loaded snakes. But it's not, it's full of actual peanut brittle! ANTI PRANK!

  23. Fake your own death and frame a friend for your murder by planting some of your hair on their clothes!

Gosh, some of these pranks are just cruel, right? Do you guys have any good/awful gags you can pull for little to no money? Tell us about them in the comments below and maybe we'll add them to the list next year! (Also: Stay the heck away from us on April 1, you monsters!)

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Jeff Somogyi is the DealNews Marketing Communications Manager. Since working here he's written deals, features, promotional and newsletter copy, blog posts, as well as scripts for our videos. Follow him on Google+, Twitter at @sommerjam or his blog.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Unless marked as a "Sponsored Deal," the opinions expressed here are those of the author and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the companies mentioned. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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1 comment
Love! Another great one is to pile up toys under a blanket in the hall-way which is the same color as the carpet. This may, or may not, cause an early-riser to stumble over it when navigating bleary eyed before everyone wakes up.

/sorry Mom