Seeing the funny side of life has suddenly become more important than ever. Social media networks like Facebook are bursting with humorous stories and photos intended to brighten up our isolation and bring a smile to our faces amid the global coronavirus scare.
We've learnt that even though many of us are confined to our homes, that's no reason not to make the most of any opportunities for fun. And with April Fools' Day coming up, there are still plenty of home-based pranks you can play both with families and online friends.
We've gathered together a collection of ideas below. But before that, a couple of words of warning.
First, don’t even consider inventing alarming stories about the coronavirus. It's just too serious to be funny. And second, when planning your pranks, take account of your intended victims. Are they nervous types? Would your tricks cause panic or danger? Or do they just plain dislike practical jokes -- as 17% of respondents in a recent survey said?
We can’t take responsibility for pranks that misfire. But, that said, here are some suggestions to get you thinking of how you can turn your indoor isolation into an entertaining day on April 1.
Pranks You Can Play Remotely
Even though you may be separated from physical contact with friends, colleagues and families, that doesn't stop you targeting them on April Fools.
For instance, you could:
- Create fake but harmless news stories about yourself on Facebook etc. For instance, tell them you bought a pair of glasses that send REM sleep signals to your brain, so you never actually have to sleep yourself.
- Plan a video call and then, when you're live, start by saying something like, "You'll never believe what just happened." Then silently mouth words with all sorts of dramatic gestures. The other person will think they lost the sound and grow increasingly frustrated at not hearing this tale unfold.
- Play "Franklin Calling". Get a group of friends to phone a victim and ask for Franklin. It'll drive him or her nuts as they keep saying "There's no Franklin here". At the end, phone them yourself and, in a disguised voice, say, "This is Franklin; do you have any messages for me?"
Computer (and Smart Phone) Capers
With many people working from home and using their home computers, there are boundless opportunities for April Fooling them. For instance:
- Place the sticky part of a Post-It note over the sensor area of a mouse, so nothing happens when the user tries to move their pointer. You can also do this trick by covering the signaling area on a remote control.
- Take a screen shot of your victim's phone home page (assuming you can open the device), then move all the apps to another page. With the home page effectively blank, set up the screen shot as its background. It'll look like the real home page, but nothing will happen when the user touches the icons.
- You know that sequence of three dots that appear when someone else is typing a message to you? Well you can download an animated image (technically a GIF) of those dots and send them in a message to someone. The GIF will autorun, making it seem like someone is perpetually typing a message that never arrives. To find the image, simply do a search on "three dots GIF"
As long as your victims won’t go into meltdown, here are a couple of April Fools tricks to try out:
- Creepy crawly cut-outs. Snip out larger-than-life images of insects from magazines or your printer and stick them on the inside of lamp shades.
- Hide a walkie talkie or baby monitor in a closet and then make spooky noises into the transmitter.
All Around the House
You can have lots of fun creating tricks in various parts of your home. Such as:
- In bedrooms: Switch drawers and/or their contents around, even between bedrooms if you can.
- Anywhere: Place bubble wrap under a rug to cause a noisy shock as someone walks across it. The bugger the bubbles, the better.
- In the bathroom: "Paint" a bar of soap with clear nail polish. Once it's dry, users won’t be able to get any lather or cleansing power out of it.
- Remove a showerhead and place a stock cube inside before replacing it. The next person to shower is in for a colorful and smelly washdown. Not for the known grumpies!
- While you're in the bathroom, use a small amount of hairspray to stick down the next leaf on the toilet roll (assuming you have such things!). Frustration ensues.
- In kitchens and bathrooms: Place a small amount of food dye at the mouth of a faucet, so it runs colored water on next use. Particularly good with red dye (for fake blood)!
A Matter of Taste
If you've ever had that experience of surprise or disappointment when you put food or drinks in your mouth, because it wasn't what you expected, these ideas should appeal:
- For chefs, you can dress up mashed potatoes to look like ice cream, maybe with gravy for caramel sauce, and invite your family to tuck into this tasty dessert.
- Take apart some Oreo cookies, remove the cream and replace it with toothpaste. Delightful new mint cookies!
- Torment onlookers by appearing to eat spoonfuls of mayonnaise out of the jar. What they didn't see: You emptied and cleaned the jar, then replaced the contents with yogurt or vanilla pudding.
- Surprise and horrify someone at breakfast time by presenting them with what looks like orange juice, when it's really made from the powder in a box of mac and cheese.
You'll find plenty more joke ideas with a quick online search on the term "April Fools pranks".
Even if you don’t want to play, you can impress your home companions with your knowledge of this famous annual festival.
According to history geeks, the first suggestion that April 1 could be a fun day was when Geoffrey Chaucer referred to is as March 32nd in his Canterbury Tales. But the first reference to what's also called All Fools Day supposedly dates to the 1500s.
The day is also called April Fish in France ("Avril Poissons") because paper fishes are secretly attached to people's backs. And it's Gowkie Day in Scotland because victims are called "gawks".
Of course, we could just be making all of this up. Have fun!
With acknowledgment to: boredpanda.com, parade.com, bestlifeonline.com, goodhousekeeping.com, insider.com, buzzfeed,com, marthastewart.com, bustle.com and familyhandyman.com