by Michele Johansen
April Fools' Day is coming and if you plan on pulling off a terrific prank, you'd better start preparing now! Playing a joke on a family member is lots of fun, so long as no one gets hurt. Here are some fun ideas that can help you pull the wool over someone special, whether it's a kid, parent, or spouse.
New Driving Age
What tween or teen younger than sixteen doesn't fantasize about being able to drive? Tell your older kid (twelve to fifteen) that the law has changed ("Haven't you been paying attention to this?"). Offer some facts and new rules to make it believable. When your kiddo asks for the keys to the minivan, drop the bomb: "April Fools!"
Call from the Principal
This works great, especially if your child is well-behaved at school and rarely in trouble. When she comes home from school, tell her that the principal called and told you about some rude behavior that occurred on the playground at lunch. Your kiddo will deny it, and when you take away TV privileges or her cell phone she will be really mad! She'll get over it when you tell her it was all a joke! (This would probably be best for older kids.)
Fake Bugs in Random Places
Give mom and dad a scare by putting fake bugs around the house. Spiders in the bed, worms in the cereal, flies in the shower. They might not laugh, but you will!
Frozen Cereal and Milk
On Wednesday night, fill a bowl halfway with cereal and milk. Freeze it overnight and in the morning, add a little more cereal and milk. Watching your child or spouse bang their spoon on the frozen part in confusion will be worth the effort.
Dye the Milk
Add a few drops of food coloring to your milk container the night before. If you use plastic containers, pour milk into a pitcher and add coloring to that. What a surprise your kids will have in the morning when they pour or are served colorful milk in a glass or in cereal!
Substitute the regular shampoo with a "new" brand. Simply squeeze out the shampoo into another (temporary) container and fill the empty bottle with milk. It will shock your kids or spouse as they attempt to pour a dollop into their hand - and milk flows out instead. Of course, you should keep a real bottle of shampoo nearby!
Get some balls, either tennis or rubber, and pile them into a cabinet that is frequently used. You'll need more than just a few to make this worthwhile. After they're loaded inside, close the cabinet tight and wait for your target to open the cabinet door. When he or she does, the balls will come tumbling out, creating quite the surprise! Be sure to work together to refill the cabinet with the balls for the next person.
Honk if You Like Me!
The night before April Fools, have the kids make a sign for the bumper of Mom's or Dad's car. Have them write something along the lines of "My kids are playing a prank on me! Honk if you like April Fools!" Word of caution: If mom or dad is prone to frustration on the road, this might not be a good prank!
Pranks Around the House
Try a few small, harmless pranks around the house that will have people doing double takes all day. Remove light bulbs from lamps, hide silverware, hide car keys, or short sheet beds.
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Michele Johansen is a writer in Bellevue, WA. She is the co-creator of the Ruby Slipper Guide, a website that lists activities and events for families living east of Seattle and blog that delves into the foils of parenting.