How to Prank – The Dos and Don’ts

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If you’re deciding to play a silly prank, practical joke, or buy a gag gift for someone, it’s first important to figure out the dos and don’ts. You want your prank to be hilarious and memorable for all the right reasons.

You also want to keep it relatively appropriate and not step over the line or get fired.

Follow our list of dos and don’ts in this article. If your prank really breaks any of the “don’ts”, then it might be time to go back to the drawing board and plan a different one!

Don’t: Pretend You’re Breaking Up

Pretending you’re breaking up with your partner might sound hilarious in your head, but it’s an absolute recipe for disaster. It might end up happening for real.

Approach pranks about break-ups and cheating with GREAT CAUTION!

There are plenty of Youtube videos where this goes horribly wrong and the partner ends up either agreeing with them or says some stuff you’re never going to forget.

Do: Know Your Prank Victim

Only play a prank on somebody that you know reasonably well. You need to know how they react to surprises or shocks and plan accordingly.

If you play a practical joke that will humiliate or cause emotional harm to the person, then you are being a bad friend/family member/partner, etc. It’s something that you should never do.

Think to yourself: “Will my friend take this prank the wrong way?”. If so, go back to the drawing board.

Do: Record the Prank

If you can record the prank without it being super obvious, then do so. If it works out really funny then it could be a great video to look back on.

It could even become a viral sensation. Always get permission before sharing any videos of people, particularly if it didn’t turn out well for the person.

A humiliating practical joke could be bad enough for someone, but it’s far worse if it’s seen by a million people on Youtube and never to be erased from the web!

Don’t: Get Fired

Workplace pranks should be treated with severe caution! Only you can figure out the boundaries that you can push in your workplace. Just make sure you don’t go past them.

You don’t want to be the person that gets called into HR meetings for harassment or misconduct!

If you’re buying gifts for a kris kindle or secret santa, make sure they stay relatively appropriate unless you really know the person and know how they will react. Even if it’s anonymous, you might eventually get caught out. If not, it could still leave a bad taste in the mouth of the recipient.

I also can’t believe I’m writing this, but don’t pretend you’re going to resign! This could seriously backfire on you.

Do: Keep it Simple and Plan it Well

Don’t make your prank so complex that it’s difficult to pull off! The best pranks are often simple ones that are over in a heartbeat (like hiding something in an office desk).

Also, make sure to plan your prank really well. Try to make your timing perfect to make sure you’re not spotted getting anything ready.

See the video below for some simple and easy to do pranks that you can use all year round (not just on April Fools!).

Don’t: Cause any Harm

Try not to plan pranks around the person’s fears. E.g. if the person is claustrophobic, don’t lock them in a small room – it’s simply abusive!

This goes back to the “know your prank victim” point. Understand what they like and don’t like, and plan your prank around that.

Do: Stay Appropriate

Practical jokes and pranks can be really funny and even help people to bond. Make sure it’s in good taste and doesn’t violate any social/cultural etiquette or laws! If you’re going to play a joke, make sure you have either:

  • Already built up a suitable rapport with the person, or
  • It’s lighthearted enough that the joke might serve as an ice-breaker

Don’t: Lose the Run of Yourself in Prank Wars

If you’ve been pranked before by someone, the first thing you want to do is get them back. Doing this can lead to a back and forth spiral of bigger and better pranks. If you’re doing that, make sure that you don’t start losing the run of yourself, and follow the rest of the dos and don’ts in this article.

Do: Stay Lighthearted

Pranks should be fun for everyone. The recipient of the prank might eventually get a surprise or shock, but it should be something that they will eventually look back on as funny.

Always try to keep it tasteful and don’t pass any boundaries!

Do: Prankception

It’s great to play practical jokes on people that are usually the instigators of the prank, let’s call this person John in this example. If John tries to get you in on a prank of a friend or family member, then tell the proposed victim about it and secretly plan a prank on John during the process. John may never suspect it, because they will already be too busy trying to fool the other guy!


When you’re planning a prank, remember the reason for it. It should be good-natured and for good fun. If your prank is a little border-line, make sure it’s not going to get you in trouble with your partner, boss, or the police.

Make it something worth remembering for all the right reasons! Following our Dos and Don’ts in this article might help you get on track and plan a great prank!