If you’ve watched the TV show “The Office” as religiously as I have, the classic “stapler in Jell-O” trick surely sounds familiar. It’s pretty much what the name describes: Simply make a batch of Jell-O, but make sure your colleague’s stapler is hidden inside the mold.
It’s a classic prank. But what other, less conventional pranks are out there to add some kicks to an otherwise average day at the office?
Every company has a story about that funny office prank of yore. Whether you’re doing some early April Fool’s Day research, or just feeling a little tricksy, it’s time to get a prank of your own in the books. Here are some ideas.
Funny Office Pranks to Pull on Your Coworkers
1. Caramel Onions
When Halloween is around the corner, these caramel onions are no match for other tricks (or treats). Dip each onion in caramel — maybe some red food coloring first, if you need to further disguise them — and stick popsicle sticks down the center. Your colleagues won’t know the difference, but they will wonder why these caramel apples are making them cry so much…
2. Nicolas Cage Toilet Seat
Speaking of Halloween, here’s what nightmares are truly made of. Nicolas Cage is easy to come by in the meme community these days. Print a picture of him at his most, well, enthusiastic — and allow him to greet everyone who takes a bathroom break.
3. Fish Drawer
There’s something fishy about this office prank… Just be sure to include fish food; experts suggest you should feed this prank twice a day.
4. Pants in the Stall
Usually, when you see feet underneath the stall, you just have to wait your turn. In this case, you might be waiting forever. Set this guy up in your office bathroom and see how long it takes for people to start talking. We just hope nobody called the paramedics on this poor, empty suit.
5. Febreze for Days
Tighten the zip-tie, throw it, and run for your life. Or, leave it in your coworker’s office when they’re on break. They’re sure to return to a potent workspace.
6. Vehicular Sticky Notes
This is the perfect use for those sticky notes that keep piling up — especially if they’re all for someone who just won’t finish his or her tasks. The prank below is a wonderful way to remind them before they take off for the day.
7. Misspelling Macro
Never ask your work buddy to unlock your iPhone for you, or they’ll make you look like the worst speller of all time when you go to type a text or email. Settings > General > Keyboard > Add new shortcut will make this prank a reality against your most detail-oriented colleague.
8. Foghorn Entrance
Haven’t you ever wanted to get a room’s attention the second you walk through the door? Well, the prank below will even get the person entering to stand up straight. This is certainly one way to make sure everyone’s alert before a meeting.
9. Ballooned Conference
Hey, at least it’s not glitter? This prank works two ways: You can either surprise the next team who reserves this room, or have a day-long meeting in here without anyone knowing your business. You will of course have some static electricity when you exit the room.
10. Desk Trolls
For trolls, by trolls. Luckily, you can buy many of these trolls in bulk. Click here if you’re serious about trolling your coworker’s workstation — just keep in mind you will have to buy more than one pack of trolls to make this stunt worth it.
11. Water Works
Oh look, a budget trip to the beach. This prank gives a whole new meeting to the term, “staycation.” Surprise your coworker when he/she comes back from a beach getaway with, well, another beach getaway. The downside is it’ll be nothing like where they were. The upside is they won’t need a towel.
12. Anti-Gravity Desk
“That’s it — you’re suspended.” Just make sure the person who arrives in the morning to a floating desk doesn’t try to sit down…
13. Nailed the Cake
Hey everyone, there’s cake up for grabs in the kitchen! The prank, however, is written in frosting. This is a good gesture to someone who loves the expression, “needle in a haystack.” Happy hunting.
14. Psychedelic Supervision
“I don’t know, I feel like my boss is always watching me,” your coworker might say. Change their perception of micromanagement when this colorful prank. Suddenly a “quick checkin” doesn’t seem all that bad.
15. Voice Toast
Simple, yet brilliant. Change the terms of breakfast ever so slightly, and the kitchen becomes the most confusing room in the office. This little note pranks the entire office — a true masterpiece of prank-dom.
16. Work From Home
As Ron Burgundy from Anchorman says, “I’m not even mad. I’m just impressed.” Help your coworker who loves taking his/her work home, take their home to work instead. As you can tell, you might need to stay late the night before to get this prank just right.
17. You’ve Been ‘Felined’
This could actually make your cat-loving coworker’s day. Or, it could make for the greatest prank of all time against the coworker who’s violently allergic to cats (that is, as long as they’re not allergic to photos of cats, too).
18. The Seedboard
Work with your IT department to fertilize this prank perfectly. Soon enough, its user will wonder why their keyboard is growing. We suggest targeting someone who sits close to the window — some pranks just need some sunlight. “You said you wanted to spend more time with nature,” you might say in your defense.
19. Healthy Creme
Who said you couldn’t be helpful while also being a prankster? “The bad news is we’re out of donuts. The good news is you have all these nutritious alternatives to help your immune system cope with the lack of donuts.”
20. The Ceilings Have Eyes
You could freak out just looking at the photo of this horrifying prank. It might be a little too much for your jumpiest colleague, but for the person who can’t stop talking about scary movies, it’s just the revenge you deserve. (Hint: paper mache, white paint, and a black wig. Done.)
21. Chair Scare
Similar to the Entrance Foghorn (prank #8, above), this prank will probably scare more than just the person who sits down. Of course, it’ll be a lesson to anyone who, I suppose, tries to sit too low at their desk.
Funny Pranks to Pull on Your Boss
22. No Stalling
For the employee who never has enough time. Or, for the coworker who takes way too many bathroom breaks during the day. Prank them with their very own throne the next time nature calls.
23. Glitter Bomb
About that whole, “At least it’s not glitter” thing in prank #9? Well, this prank can’t make that promise. For the coworkers who don’t yet know the permanence of getting glitter on yourself, this prank is sure to set them straight.
24. Substitute Worker
Sometimes, you’re not sure how to ask for another day off. For those days where you simply can’t come into work, but don’t have the heart to call out again, the doll who looks just like you is the perfect substitute. Or, just put ’em at your colleague’s desk and give them a much-needed identity crisis.
25. Crushed It
When you finally learn about your colleague’s celebrity crush, make sure they know how much you care.
A post shared by Alice Lei (@alicerabbit1) on
26. World’s ‘Best’ Boss
When words just aren’t enough to express your sentiment, give your manager the perfect way to say “thank you” every time they go to take a sip of coffee.
27. Cup o’ Spiders
“Hey chief, I found a spider on your desk, but don’t worry, it’s been handled.” This prank doesn’t have to have an actual spider in it — the mystery, alone, is all you need to prank your employee.
28. That’s a Wrap
For the boss who has everything, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Remote Pranks for Virtual Teams
The above pranks are awesome, but what about pranks that are inclusive for remote employees or teams that are 100% virtual? These pranks are ideal for the digital office:
29. Flash Mob
This is a perfect prank for a large gathering but requires a bit of prep — from choosing a song, selecting the dancers, and teaching the choreography. However, the end result is worth it for the shocked and delighted expressions on coworkers’ faces alone.
30. Virtual Background Shenanigans
There’s a lot of pranking potential using the virtual background feature in Zoom and other video conferencing platforms. For example, one Twitter user creates a virtual background with the shocking appearance of a doppelgänger… or maybe a time warp?
So, I made a custom Zoom background for my next meeting where I bring myself a cup of tea. pic.twitter.com/DJBxrH5Cqv
— Graham/Jaws 19 (@Jaws19show) May 7, 2020
31. Jump Scare
One way to take the virtual background prank to another level is by impersonating a horror movie director and relying on one of the oldest scary movie tricks in the book: the unexpected jump scare. The video below walks through the steps for executing this prank successfully:
Just make sure that you know who you’re presenting to. The wrong audience may not appreciate the humor in this one!
32. You’re Not on Mute
We’ve all heard the horror stories of users who thought they were on mute and went on to say something embarrassing. One prank would be to stage this situation and make your coworkers think that you think you’re on mute. You could enlist someone in your household to say really embarrassing or completely outrageous, the goal being to see how long your coworkers will watch in horror before letting you know you’re on mute.
33. Stolen Identity
If you have a workplace chat system, a simple and effective prank is to “steal” someone’s identity by changing your display name and picture to match theirs. The more coworkers you get to follow suit, the more effective, hilarious, and chaotic this prank becomes. Best of all, it’s easy to reverse at the end of the day: Just revert back to your original display name and photo.
34. Think Outside the Box
With video conferencing apps, we’re limited to our own little square of digital real estate… or are we? This Twitter user subverts expectation by dumping water on a coworker in another square, surprising all the other meeting attendees:
— Phang (@PhilaUnionPhang) April 1, 2020
All you have to do is find someone who will be in on the joke with you.
Pranking can be extremely good for morale and company culture. After all, why not have a little fun to break up the workday?
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.