Do You Pull April Fool’s Day Pranks? I Pranked My Daughters–But Not for Long.

In The Happiness Project, I write about one of my favorite resolutions — to celebrate minor holidays — and Elizabeth and I have also talked about this a few times on the Happier podcast. I’ve been gratified to hear that many people also have fun celebrating these little, colorful-yet-not-much-work occasions. (I love it when people send me photos.)

Today is April Fool’s Day, and I played a trick on my daughters (my husband is traveling for work). It’s a Saturday, and they’ve been on spring break, so I went into their rooms at the time when I wake them up on school days, and went through the whole morning routine as if it were Monday morning.

For a few minutes, I managed to fool them in their grogginess, but pretty quickly they realized what I was up to.

Reflecting on my last few years of April Fool’s Day pranks, I’ve learned something about myself: I do better with a sight gag, like the time I dyed the milk in the carton bright green, and then poured it over my daughter’s cereal (see image), than I do when I’m misleading them. I’m a terrible liar and can’t fool them for long.

I love these kind of easy, fun traditions. They build happiness because they mark the passage of time in a special way, they’re memorable, they’re light-hearted, they contribute to a sense of group identity.

Do you play April Fool’s Day pranks? What are some good ones? I’m already collecting ideas for next year.

  • Vickie

    When I taught first grade I waited until April 1 to tell my kids we were going on a field trip to the hospital (we really were), but for the prank I mentioned that by the way they all were going to get a shot! Their expressions were priceless until I couldn’t hold it any longer and smiled “April Fools!”

  • Heather Keller

    I told my kids (9 & 5) that I made brownies the night before, and asked them if they wanted one for breakfast. They eagerly (of course) said “Yes!” and I proceeded to hand them a (brownie-sized & shaped) piece of paper with a brown E written on it. My 9 year old got it immediately but it took my 5 year old a few minutes. They both loved it! I would love to find more April Fool’s jokes like that…good, light-hearted fun, easy to execute, doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings etc. I like the green milk idea! I’m going to do that next year.

  • Mother Love

    The best thing about April Fool’s Day for me was that my son came 2 weeks early, (18 years ago), on that day. Other than that, I really don’t like pranks on 4/1, because it is my daughter’s favorite day of the year when she gets to play pranks and no one comments. She “got” me the year I drove an hour home from work and had to break into my house, climb up the bricks by my air conditioner, and crawl through a window. I’ve blocked most of that memory, but it included torn clothing and skin. I also recall that I blew a gasket – lots of bark, no bite, and no one’s bothered me on my son’s birthday since. Having said that, I do love gentle practical jokes…green milk is a good one. No one gets hurt and it’s lovely to have a laugh.

  • Chantel Guertin

    We had Christmas music playing when the kids woke up and had hung their stockings with a few fun inexpensive gifts in them (a lollipop etc). They loved it and their good moods from such a happy surprise carried them throughout the day (which was a win for us all!).

    • gretchenrubin

      LOVE this idea!

      Gretchen Rubin

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      My podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin
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  • Sherri Williams

    My husband taped a sticky note with “April Fool’s!” written on it over the optical sensor on the bottom of my computer mouse. It didn’t take me long before I turned the mouse over to figure out why it wasn’t working, but it was still pretty cute.

    If you have 2 computers/tablets in your house that both use USB dongles for the mouse, you could also swap the dongles and watch their owners’ confusion when their mouse mysteriously moves across the screen without them touching it! 😉

    Changing your partner’s desktop wallpaper to a cute photo of you making a silly face and holding an “April Fool’s!” sign is also a fun, harmless prank.

    • gretchenrubin

      Great one!

      Gretchen Rubin

      Visit my blog

      My podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin
      My books:Better Than Before —New York Times bestseller
      The Happiness Project —#1 New York Times bestseller
      Join the discussion on Facebook @gretchenrubin