“Let me guess… Peanut M&Ms?!?,” my dad says, squishing the wrapped gift in his hands and shaking it ever so slightly. While they’re still his favorite treat, and a longstanding tradition I always include with his holiday gifts, I’ve had to learn the stealthy art of prank gift wrapping in order to stop dad from another year of, “Oh, I bet this is my candy,” as he tears into the paper.
The sneaky gifting tricks I’ve developed over the years, in an effort to fool my dad’s M&M detection skills, have come in handy now that I also have a snoopy little boy always trying to sniff out his presents under the tree. But neither will be successful in their attempts to guess their gifts this season—I’ve got a few new ideas to outwit them in the gift guessing game, with plans for Christmas gifts in disguise.
Cereal Wrapped Sneakiness
With the important men in my life continually ruining surprises, I have jokingly threatened to give them groceries from the pantry instead of their Christmas wishes. This year, I’m going to pretend to follow through on my warnings by using a fun little trick with cereal and cracker boxes to mask some of their easiest-to-spot presents.
Common gifts like DVDs, books, CDs, and video games have shapes that, even when wrapped, are still pretty easy to guess if not disguised. So I’ve figured out a way to hide the obvious squares and rectangles of these gifts by convincing my conniving loved ones I really have replaced the new Sam Smith album with a box of Christmas Crunch:
- First, I round up boxes of cereal and snack crackers large enough to fit my gift-to-be-disguised, as well as a few gallon-sized Ziploc baggies.
- Next, I carefully open each box from the bottom of the package so that all flaps are free of tears.
- Then I empty the contents of each box into two Ziploc bags, leaving out a bit of the cereal or crackers to be eaten so there’s extra space in the box for the gift.
- Finally, I sandwich a wrapped gift between the two Ziplock bags and slide it all back into the box.
- Once everything is in place, I hot glue the bottom of the box closed and wrap the cereal or snack box to present to my unsuspecting family member.
This simple prank will leave their gifts looking and sounding like a box of food as they inspect them, trying to guess their contents.
Scaling a Gift Down to Hide Its Size
Aside from giving them cereal boxes, literally, one of the simplest ways I throw my boys off the gifting trail is by making things appear out of proportion when wrapping their presents. Large wrapped boxes can be dead giveaways for certain wish list items under the tree, so I shrink things down with a little extra prep work. By only wrapping a small part of the present, I can really keep them guessing. While everyone enjoys a good laugh at the perplexed looks on their faces when they tear open the box, I pull the rest of the gift out of hiding for a big, surprise reveal!
And to really keep my son scratching his head at his gifts all Christmas morning, I took a little extra time to hollow out a random book he wouldn’t typically choose to read, and hid a new 3DS Zelda game inside. Bonus, the book also becomes a safe-keeping place for his smaller valuables, making the wrapping it’s own little gift.
Presents That Play Pretend
Another great way to keep my family on their toes is to use some of the awesomely terrible fake-out gift boxes available now. My dad cracked up for a good ten minutes when he thought he opened up an iDrive mobile device steering wheel mount last year. Although he wouldn’t dream of driving while using his iPad for real, it was a hilarious switch-a-roo when he discovered his actual gift inside the box.
This year, I schemed ahead of time and saved a shoebox from a new pair of boots I bought myself to use as a gift box for my son. Being a forever hungry and growing boy, my son loves to get pepperoni sticks and jerky as gifts, but I hate when he figures out that I stocked him up on snacks before he’s even unwrapped them.
To make it seem as though boots are the present hidden in paper, instead of protein packed snacks, I shaped the treats and a few other small gifts into two “boots” by taping them together. Covering the newly formed faux shoes in gift wrap, I masked my crude tape-job. Then I placed the pair of “boots” in the shoebox, folding the original tissue over them before wrapping it all to sit pretty at the foot of the tree. I know my son is going to think I mistakenly gave him the wrong gift when he unwraps the boot box in bewilderment.
For a final quick and creative gifting wrapping swap, I’ll recycle the DVD cases of crazy workout videos or kooky old cartoons to hide gift certificates or gift cards. It will add a few giggles to our unwrapping fun and make sure my family members are really surprised when their true gifts are discovered.
Concealing Gifts with Confectionaries
After getting my son’s favorite treats disguised, I finally decided how I would disguise my dad’s traditional Christmas peanut M&Ms. Instead of the usual great lengths I take to conceal his chocolate treasures, I made them a decoy for another gift I wanted to squirrel away for his grand finale: a smartwatch that links to his phone. In order to tie these gifts together, and create the perfect camouflage for his fabulous, gadgety gift, I’m using a sneaky (and sweet) way to hide any small, but special present. To pull off this fun Christmas trick I rounded up:
- A large, clear glass candy jar with a lid
- Two cardboard toilet paper rolls
- Two pieces of red construction paper
- Scissors, tape, and ribbon
- A few bags of my dad’s fave M&Ms
Once I had the supplies gathered, I:
- Traced the base of the jar onto two sheets of red paper and cut out the circles just inside the lines.
- Carefully taped a paper circle to both the bottom of the jar and just under the lid to hide what could be seen above and below.
- Cutting the two cardboard toilet paper rolls in half lengthwise, I wrapped each one around the gift I was hiding and placed it in the center of the glass jar, creating a barrier between the candies and the gift.
- Finally, I filled the jar with peanut M&Ms around the cardboard barrier, placed the lid on tight, taped it shut, and lovingly tied a bow around the whole thing.
My dad’s traditional gift of Christmas candies is now in plain sight, upping his anticipation for the sweet treats, while secretly hiding a wonderful surprise!
After working my camouflage magic on nearly all the gifts my sneaky dad and son will try to guess before Christmas morning, I’m excited to see how each of my elaborate tricks plays out. I can only imagine how amusing it will be to watch them investigate each present, wrongfully guessing their gifts, each festively wrapped and topped with brightly colored bows.
Try as they may to size them up and shake their presents this year, my family won’t be able to easily tell what gifts from their wish lists I’ve picked out for them—and I couldn’t be prouder of my pranking efforts. It will be worth every bit of my planning to know my dad and son will be completely surprised as they unmask each gift from the wrappings I’ve used as disguises this Christmas!
Want to keep your family guessing with creative gift wrapping this Christmas? Let the Elves help in your holiday mischief! Our That’s a WRAP Gift Guide has you covered with everything you need to disguise presents with pizzazz, and maybe even play a holiday prank or two using ideas from our Facebook page, Twitter @Elfster, or Instagram @Elfster!