April Fools’ Day is a glorious holiday for parents. After a lifetime of picking up after them, reminding them to do their chores, and hardly finding any time for yourself, the day to laugh at your kids’ expense arrives. It’s the one day a year the tables turn, and it’s totally acceptable to pull a fast one on them for a change — as long as the April Fools’ jokes aren’t too mean, of course.
Not to worry: Our favorite family-friendly April Fools’ Day pranks are gentle and will make for a fun day of joking around with the kids.
1. Fools’ food
A tasty way to fool your kids (or let them fool you) is to make April Fools’ Day dishes that deceive the eye (and the palate). For example, cook mini meatloaf “cupcakes” in cupcake liners and top them with mashed potatoes tinted pink with natural food coloring. For fruit-loving kids, core an apple and insert a gummy worm. For more fun, buy realistic-looking toy plastic flies and strategically hide them in kiddo’s dessert.
2. Clever candy
Another food prank your kids may actually hope you’ll repeat throughout the year is to take various candies and shape or cut them to resemble vegetables. Mix them with plain yogurt and pour them into a pie plate. Top it with a baked puff pastry crust, and serve the dish as a “vegetable” potpie.
3. Unusable soap
Painting a bar of soap with clear nail polish so it becomes super-slippery — and totally nonfunctional — is a funny prank for people of any age, but it becomes especially hilarious when kids can’t figure out what the heck is going on. Of course, the only downside is that kids will probably use this as an excuse not to wash their hands, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.
4. Fake houseguest
In the morning before your kids get up, stage a “houseguest” at the breakfast table. Stuff a long kids dress or jeans and shirt with towels, pillows and/or newspaper. Sit “her” in a chair and prop a newspaper on her lap covering her face so no one can see her upper body or head. Tell your kids they have a new roomie and introduce them to “April,” a young girl who loves reading the newspaper… and doesn’t talk much.
5. Giant syndrome
At dinner the night before April Fools’ Day, introduce your kids to a new vegetable and tell them that if they eat it, they’ll wake up bigger and stronger. (If your kids have never eaten Brussels sprouts, this is the perfect time to serve them.) When they go to sleep, stuff the toes of their shoes with cotton or newspaper, and if possible, swap out their jeans and shirts with clothing a size too small. You can also have your kids do this to your partner’s shoes and clothing for extra giggles.
6. Falling socks
Let your kids fill your partner’s medicine cabinet or cupboards with rolled-up socks or small plastic balls. Then just try stifle your laughter when he or she opens the doors.
7. Sticky coins
Have your kids super-glue a few quarters on the sidewalk out front; then camp out at the window and watch how many passers-by bend down to pick up the coins — or try to pick them up, rather.
A version of this article was originally published in March 2011.