April Fools' Day is a great holiday for parents. When I was in high school and college, I often egged on my friends to pull pranks. Now, as a dad of three boys, one my great joys is being able to gag my own kids.
With that in mind, I reached back into my memories for the following list of old-school April Fools' jokes that buddies or family members played on me at one time or another. These high jinx, with a little prep work, can turn into funny moments.
1. House of cards. I like to start early with the April Fools' pranks the night before. One of my favorites is to literally throw a pack of playing cards all over a child as he or she is sleeping. If you're quick and quiet, kids won't notice until morning that they're covered in jokers, kings and queens.
2. Halloween or April Fools'? Another old standby to pull off at night is to stick a realistic looking rubber or plastic bug or creepy creature in someone's bed. I remember a slimy centipede toy that worked wonders in such situations.
3. Use soap and … soap. Many parents have instilled in their kids the need to wash their hands well, so a good way to subvert this behavior is to reach under the bathroom or kitchen sink and turn the water pipes off. Many children will have no clue why the water isn't coming out or how to get it back on. By the way, don't try this stunt with the toilet water supply.
4. Lights out. If you can catch your kids off guard in the early morning or night, try messing with the lights. The easy way is to simply unscrew the light bulbs in their bedrooms, but if you're adventurous, you can also tamper with the circuit breakers to cut off electricity to an entire room. Either way, for kids this is a frustrating experience—and pure fun for parents.
5. A colorful surprise. Food coloring is such an versatile invention. Bright frosting, colorful cakes and Easter Eggs are all possible with different hues. So why not turn water or milk black or pink, or whatever color might throw off your kids on April Fools'? With a little acting, parents might be able to really run with this caper, such as pretend disgust when dark milk pours into the cereal bowl.
6. Turning the tables. The idea of turning over the furniture in a room is so easy, yet also unsettling when children walk in. I've always been a fan of flipping the kitchen table and chairs and letting the kids find it on their own, particularly if it's still dark and they're half awake. Watching young ones try to get chairs right-side-up can bring gallows humor to adults.
7. There's a call for junior. Prank calling is a lost art these days, and many kids have never experienced it or performed the trick. After school can be a fun time to try this gag if you can get a neighbor or friend to impersonate a teacher asking why homework wasn't turned in. Elementary school kids will totally fall for this one, and there are tons of possibilities.
Honorable mention: I'll give my kids credit; They pulled a nice stunt on me recently. Someone completely taped up the flushable wipes dispenser in the bathroom, which drove me crazy at the time. Well done.