21 Hilarious Office Pranks That (Hopefully) Won’t Get You Fired

office pranks covering desk in grass

I think it’s safe to assume that we all work really hard.

Besides the fact that doing anything worthwhile takes hard work and dedication, the trend has been longer and longer hours for American office workers. According to a 2014 Gallup study, full-time adults work 47 hours each week, almost a full workday longer than the standard 40-hour work week.

Sometimes you need a little office laughter to break up the day and recharge from all the time spent focusing on the serious stuff.

Of course, you don’t want to prank your colleagues with the same, tired pranks.

With this in mind (and with April Fool’s Day coming up), we decided to put together our Ultimate Guide to pranking your colleagues.

We tried to avoid all of the jokes you and your co workers have probably already pulled on each other. These are the best of the best, office pranks guaranteed to help you become the king (or queen) of office pranks – without getting fired.

Meet the modern wine subscription that puts your palate to the test. Pinot lover? Sauvignon sipper? Not sure? Winc makes it super easy to discover wines you’ll love (to accompany the snacks you can’t live without). Take their palate profile quiz and they’ll pair 4 bottles of wine to your taste preferences and ship them right to your door every month. Try Winc for yourself with a SnackNation readers special and enjoy 35% off your first order, shipping included!

First, a few ground rules.

Most of these are pretty obvious (and we seriously doubt any of you would do any of these things), but it’s worth mentioning that you should avoid doing any of the following:

  • Don’t Destroy Anyone’s Property. That goes for office or personal property. Anything you do should be reversible. Don’t ruin the paint on someone’s car, or break someone’s monitor, or stain their clothing. That’s not a prank, that’s straight up vandalism.
  • Don’t Cause Major Disruptions. The best office pranks surprise and delight. They may even cause a minor disruption in the work day – the kind that makes people pop their heads up from their desks and smile (or shake their head). But don’t do anything that would cause a major disruption or otherwise harm your business. We’re talking about things like pulling the fire alarm, unleashing noxious stink bombs, or unplugging your company’s servers (as tempting as that might be).
  • Don’t Cause Bodily Injury. Duh.
  • Don’t Cross the Line. Ever heard of the phrase “hostile work environment?” Well, let’s hope you never do (especially coming from your lawyer or your company’s Head of HR). Use good judgment. We know you’d never do this, but don’t engage in humor that pokes fun at anyone’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual-orientation. That’s never ok in the workplace. Even if your intent isn’t malicious, you can still lose your job and/or put your company at risk. Plus, it’s just not cool.

Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way, on to the fun stuff.


1. Body Spray Bomb

This one comes from SnackNation Member Success Manager Jessie Montz, the self-described “Queen of the Office Pranksters.”

The idea is to rig up a bottle of body spray underneath the victim’s office chair so that when he sits down, it triggers the bottle to spray.

You’ll need:

Step 1: Adjust the victim’s chair so that the chair gives slightly when someone sits on it.

Step 2: Duct tape the bottle of body spray directly under the seat so that when the chair moves down, it depresses the spray.

Step 3: Use the clothespin to plug your nose. (You don’t want to be smelling that stuff if it heads your way.)

Step 4: Hilarity ensues.

(Note: this one also works with airhorns.)

air horn taped under chair


2. Family Photo Swap

Does your co-worker keep a photo of a cherished loved one? Well, it’s about time they appreciated one of the greatest actors of all time, and not their kid or whatever.

Replace family pics with photos of your favorite weirdo celebrity. (This photo of Nicolas Cage from Vampire’s Kiss works particularly well.)


Speaking of Nic Cage…


3. Nicolas Cage-ify Your Coworker’s Browser with nCage

Wish there was a way to update the Nic Cage insanity for the digital age? Well, nCage has already beat you to it.

This handy chrome extension will replace every image on every page with a different photo of – you guessed it – Nicolas Cage.


4. Monitor Mayhem

A favorite at monday.com, this trick will have your coworkers scratching their heads.

You’ll need:

  • An unlocked computer screen.
  • About 15 seconds and some nimble fingers.

Step 1: When they aren’t looking, sneak onto your victim’s computer.

Step 2: Flip their screen. On a Windows PC, hit control+alt+F1 to activate image rotation. Hold the ctrl and alt keys and use the down arrow to rotate the screen.

On a Mac, go to system preferences and click the “Displays” tab. From there choose 180 degrees on the rotation menu. (Only works with external displays.) Close out of system preferences when you’re done.

mac display settings screen

Step 3: Return to your desk and try not to crack a smile as your co-worker tries to figure out how to change it back.


5. Fake Computer Update

Fakeupdate.net has created realistic looking update animations to make your coworkers think their computer is in the middle of an important, frustratingly slow system update. The kicker? The update will never finish. Status bars inexplicably creep forward and backwards, and when your co-worker inevitably hits the enter key, the blue screen of death or some other hilariously frightening message appears.

fake computer update blue error screen of death

Step 1: Sneak onto your co-worker’s computer and go to fakeupdate.net.

Step 2: Select their operating system. (Or for maximum confusion, select a Mac OS on a Windows PC or vice versa.)

Step 3: Set browser to fullscreen.

Step 4: Slink away like the dirty trickster you are.


6. Hidden Box Trick

You’ll need:

  • 5-6 moving boxes of various sizes, including one large-sized box
  • Packing tape
  • A co-conspirator
  • Patience

Step 1: Put together the boxes with the packing tape and place them in a coworker’s cubicle or office. Make it look as though facilities accidentally set down a bunch of moving boxes in the wrong place.

Step 2: Hide in the largest of the boxes. Have your co-conspirator tape up the box, but cut the tape so that it will be easy to break through.

Step 3: Lie in wait.

Step 4: Listen for your victim to return. As soon as your hear them start to grumble about the moving mix up, jump out of the box and yell “Jumanji!” as loud as you can.

Step 5: Laugh maniacally.


7. Hidden Penny Insanity

This next one is less of a prank and more like psychological torture. Here’s Jessie Montz again:

jessie montz snacknation“For the last couple months I have been pulling a prank on my co-worker Brendan. Every so often I place one penny on his desk or under his coffee mug, mouse, etc. Enough that he thinks he is going crazy.”

Props to Jessie for committing to the long game.

hidden penny prank


8. The Broken Mouse

Here’s a classic and SnackNation favorite that will have your co-workers questioning their sanity yet again.

Step 1: Tape over the sensor on your coworker’s mouse.

Step 2: Watch as your co-worker tries to figure out why they can click, but can’t scroll, no matter how hard they flail their mouse around.

Step 3: Don’t forget a friendly message for when they finally figure it out.

tape over mouse tracking beam prank


9. Forecast Calls for…Packing Peanuts

We’ve all probably seen a version of the “fill your co-worker’s cubicle with packing peanuts” trick, and while it’s pretty good, it’s definitely been done before. Don’t you think it’s time someone elevated this one to new heights.

Go stealth and create a winter wonderland any time of year by filling your co-workers overhead shelves with packing peanuts.

You’ll need:

  • 3 packs (or more) of packing peanuts
  • 1 long strip of cardboard
  • A cubicle desk with overhead cabinets

Step 1: While your co-worker is away, fill his cabinets with packing peanuts. Use the cardboard strip to keep the peanuts in place while you close the cabinet, and slide it out once the cabinet is shut.

Step 2: Important – make a mental note of an item he keeps in the cabinet (a ruler, stapler, or specific book for instance). Pick up any stray packing peanuts so you don’t tip your hand.

Step 3: Once he’s back at his desk, come by and ask for that item from step 2.

Step 4: Point and laugh as packing peanuts rain down on his head.

Step 5: Run away.


10. Unwrap this

Some people can’t stand a wrapped gift.

You’ll need:

  • Copious amounts of wrapping paper (Buy at the dollar store to save some cash)

An oldie but a goodie. Give the gift that keeps on frustrating by gift wrapping everything on your colleague’s desk. And by everything we mean everything. Monitor, keyboard, mouse, individual paper clips, personal belongings, desk, office chair, lamp… you get the picture.

Stick to one pattern or color scheme to create a shocking visual display.

desk wrapped in tin foil

wrapping paper desk prank

desk wrapped in tin foil 2


11. Fake Birthday

Gather around a co-worker’s desk and sing happy birthday. Up the ante by buying balloons and a personalized cake. See if your victim has the heart to tell you that… it’s not actually her birthday. (Works best with that super nice officemate who doesn’t like hurting people’s feelings.)


12. Bats!

The key to this one is getting to know your co-workers greatest fear.

Step 1: Find a coworker with a phobia. There’s gotta be someone who’s afraid of bats, snakes, or rats in your office

Step 2: Exploit that fear by filling their office with rubber versions of the one thing they dread the most. (The more realistic the better.)

Step 3: This is definitely one you’ll want to catch on video, so make sure you have your phone handy.

Bonus: your coworker will appreciate the fact that you took the time to learn something personal about them.

Just kidding, they’ll probably hate you forever.


13. Sleeping Beauty

Do you have a coworker who just can’t keep their eyes open at certain points of the day? It’s time for a little sleep-shaming.

Step 1: Wait for sleeping beauty to dose off.

Step 2: Gather your teammates. Have as many people as possible pose next to your slumbering officemate. (Make sure you are extra quiet!)

Step 3: Go to your local print shop and have a life size poster printed.

Step 4: Get to work early and hang it in the hallway for all to see.

man napping at work in sleeping bag


14. Head in a Jar

This epic prank requires a little bit of photo editing skills, but it is well worth it.

You’ll need:

  • A decent camera
  • A color printer that prints legal size paper
  • Lamination machine
  • Yellow food coloring
  • A wide-mouth gallon jar
  • A wig

Step 1: Have someone take 3 photos of your face: one straight on, and two side profiles.

Step 2: Using photoshop, blend the three photos together to make one continuous image. Make sure that it’s hi-res enough to print on 11” x 17” legal paper.

Step 3: Print and laminate your photo.

Step 4: Place the photo in the jar so that it wraps around the edge.

Step 5: Fill with water and add a few drops of the yellow food coloring.

Step 6: Place parts of the wig in the jar so that it looks like realistic hair.

Step 7: Place your finished creation in the company fridge. Watch as people freak out.


15. Phantom Paperclip

Here’s a super simple prank that you can pull off using only office supplies.

Step 1: Place a paperclip in the upper left hand corner of the scanning bed of your company’s copier. Make sure you position it so that it’s exactly where you’d place an actual paper clip.

Step 2: Make a sizable amount of copies. (200 will do nicely.)

Step 3: Put the copies back into the printer tray.

Step 4: Watch the confusion on your co-workers’ faces as they try to remove non-existent paper clips.



16. TP Spider

Another simple but effective prank.

You’ll need:

A thin-tipped black fountain pen.

Step 1: Go in the bathroom and unroll some of the toilet paper.

Step 2: Draw the outline of a sinister looking black widow spider on the top of the roll. The black outline contrasting against the white paper will catch your victim’s eye and cause a moment of panic.

Step 3: Revel in your wicked ways.

toilet paper spider


17. Bugs in the Lampshade

Similar to “TP Spider,” bugs in the lampshade will make your colleague think they’re being attacked by a horde of creepy crawly insects.

You’ll need:

  • Black construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • A coworker with a desk lamp

Step 1: Using the scissors and paper, cutout silhouettes of the nastiest bugs you can think of – cockroaches, spiders, and centipedes are go-to for this one.

Step 2: Place the cutouts inside the lampshade and fix them with tape. They’ll be invisible until he or she decides to flip on the light.

Step 3: Listen for the screams.


18. Desktop Screenshot.

Another simple but effective monitor trick.

Step 1: When your coworker is away, take a screenshot of his or her desktop. Move all desktop folders and files into one new folder and hide that in their documents folder.

Step 2: Replace their current desktop background with the screenshot you just took.

Step 3: Sit back and watch as your coworker tries to figure out why nothing on his computer works.


19. Kid’s Desk

Replace your boss’s desk (and everything on it) with the Fisher Price version – we’re talking phone, monitor, keyboard, the works. You can find a lot of this stuff fairly cheap at thrift stores.

fisher price toys desk swap

(Thanks to Burlington Bytes for this idea)

Bonus points – create company letterhead and/or office memos using crayons.


20. Autocorrect Upgrade

Go into your coworkers iPhone and change the autocorrect settings for maximum hilarity.

Have the phone replace common words like “Yes,” “No,” “Cool,” and “Ok” with phrases that have a little more pizzazz.

“Yes” becomes “OH YEAHHHH!”

“No” becomes “Naw, son.”

“Cool” becomes “Righteous, brother!”

“Ok” becomes “BOOMSHAKALAKA!”


21. Chewbacca Roar Contest

Step 1: Circulate a flier announcing a fake “Chewbacca Roar Contest” in your neighborhood. The more fliers the better!

Step 2: Put an unsuspecting coworker’s phone number as the “Official Contest Number.”

Step 3: Watch as Chewie calls flood in. Also works with Christopher Walken impressions.

chewbacca roar contest flyer


If all else fails…

Gorilla suit.


What’s the best office prank you’ve ever pulled on a coworker? Let us know in the comments.


Office How To’s Resources:

36 Office Decor Ideas to Inspire Your Team’s Best Work

25 Epic Office Party Ideas That’ll Have Everyone Buzzing for Weeks

19 Kickass Office Organization Ideas for Maximum Productivity

25 Creative Office Bulletin Board Ideas That Actually Get Read

101 Fun Office Games and Activities That Make Work Awesome

15 Creative Office Layout Ideas That Gets People Super Excited

7 Fun Office Birthday Ideas That Are as Easy as Pie

The Workplace Events Calendar: Office Events for Every Part of the Year

We Gave Office Pets Free Rein in the Workplace – Here’s How it Made Our Office Better

The Only Office Procedures Manual Template You’ll Ever Need

Planning an Office Move? Here’s What You Need to Know

How to Bring an Authentic Startup Vibe to Any Office

The Definitive Guide on How to Organize an Office Filing System

18 Holiday Party Ideas That Are Big Fun for Small Companies

How to Make Your Next Company Outing Unforgettable

The Only Corporate Event Planning Checklist You’ll Ever Need

The Modern Guide to (Responsibly) Drinking at Work

7 Creative Ways to Make Memorable New Employee Announcements

17 Company Swag Ideas Employees Really Want

Your A-Z Cheat Sheet for Picking the Best Conference Call Service

Complete Guide to a Successful Company Newsletter [with Templates]

How to Throw a Company Retreat That Everyone Will Rave About