When most of us think about family holidays we probably think of fun traditions, sweet moments of togetherness, good food, laughter, and a bunch of other cheesy stuff.

For some families, though, family holidays aren’t complete without pranks and hijinks to go along with the rest of it – and these 15 people pulled off some pretty epic moments.

1. Who brought the cabbage?

Not really related, but the best prank I know of…

At a wedding there is usually a table where all the guests put their gifts. My cousin and his wife were invited to a wedding. They took along a nice gift. Wrapped in gift wrap with a card attached.

They also wrapped a cabbage in nice gift wrap, but it had no card.

They walked in to the reception each carrying a gift and left the two gifts on the table. It’s now many years later and I don’t think they have ever confessed that they were the ones that gave them the cabbage.

2. Ashamed, yet proud.

Christmas in the 1980’s; Christmas eve for my 10 year old twin brother and I was the usual unbearable excitement wanting to get the night out of the way before we could see what father christmas had brought with him. This particular christmas eve, we heard the sound of sleigh bells outside our (shared bedroom) window around midnight.

Rushing to the window we swept the curtain to one side, only to see nothing. Disappointed but excited, we went back to bed. 5 minutes later, a light appeared rushing across the window behind the curtains with the same sleigh bells sound.

Far too excited to move, we saw the light slow down, the sleigh bells slow to a standstill and the sound of hoofs landing on the extension roof outside our window. By this stage we were convinced that Santa had arrived on his sleigh literally metres from us.

Turns out it was my dad with a bell, a torch and two halves of a coconut. Completely had us for years. He told us when we were 18.

Great thing is I did the same thing to my kids and they believed it so much that when their school friends told them that Father Christmas didn’t exist, they argued for hours based on the false evidence they had witnessed. Eventually I had to break the news to them that it was a prank. Felt oddly ashamed and proud at the same time.

3. An expert at playing the fool.

Two Thanksgivings ago, my dad got an alert on his iPhone that said “Congratulations: You have been selected to beta test the new iPhone 5. Check your AppleID email address for more information.” Probably a scam, right? But when he checked his email, lo and behold, he had an email in his inbox from Apple with details about when and how to pick up the phone from the local Apple Store.

My little brother has always been the family tech guy. The alert and the email were both part of a prank he was trying to play to make my dad look like a fool in front of a crowded Apple store on Black Friday. My brother is technically savvy enough that everything from the alert (sent from the FindMyPhone app) and the email (a doctored version of an old iTunes receipt email with some fancy concept art added in) looked relatively believable. He even included a doctored Gizmodo post that “verified” rumors of an iPhone 5 beta test. But he failed to account for the fact that my dad had a lifetime of pranking experience under his belt.

My dad played the role of the fool expertly. He obnoxiously bragged about how he was going to get the iPhone 5 before anybody else all throughout Thanksgiving dinner. About how he was going to be a beta tester while my brother, a loyal Apple enthusiast, wasn’t going to get s**t. About how it couldn’t be a scam because the Gizmodo post verified it.

That night, he “called” Apple support to verify that he could pick up the phone in person the next day. And by called, I mean dialed and then clicked Cancel before holding the phone up to his ear. His acting throughout the entire “conversation” was worthy of a Tony.

He yelled for my brother. “Quick! Come here! You won’t believe what’s happening. It turns out the iPhone thing is a scam. I’m on hold with Apple right now. They’re transferring me to their legal department. They said that they want to investigate and bring suit against the scammer.”

My brother is getting noticeably flustered. “DAD, DON’T GIVE THEM ANYTHING!’

Meanwhile, my dad continues his performance. “Yes sir. No sir. Yes sir, I can send you all the information I have. No sir, it’s a family computer. Yes, other people might have access to it. Sure. Sure. Yes, my sons are in town. Uh huh.”

My 21 year old brother is turning red. He’s on the verge of tears. “DAD STOP STOP DAD STOP HANG UP THE PHONE!”

“Thanks you very much. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help you catch this guy.”

My dad turns to my brother. “I just sent Apple the email. It’s in their hands now.”

My brother freaks out until my dad is able to calm him down enough to tell him it was a joke.

And that’s why you don’t prank your parents.

4. Not as funny as he’d hoped.

I’ve got a prank story, but it didn’t exactly turn out in full giggles like it should have. I still thought it was humorous though.

It was Christmas time two years ago, and my father and my step-mother were preparing a relatively big meal for about seven or eight people. My dad works fifty plus hours a week, and I heavily attend school and work on the side, so both of us are pretty tired, but happy to be relaxing during the break. My step-mother steps out and tells my father that the ham will be done cooking in about an hour, and she should be home somewhere around then, but to take it out if she doesn’t get home in time. I can see the wheels in my father’s head spinning.

He lets the ham cook, and then proceeds to take the ham and hide it out in the dining room, leaving the oven on to pretend it’s still cooking. My dad proceeds to pretend to be asleep on the couch as my step-mother gets home and she goes and tries to take the ham out. Needless to say she started freaking out, yelling, “Jeff! Where on Earth is the ham?! Did you take it out?!” and such. After a couple of seconds of silent giggling he “wakes up” and walks her to the dining room to show her the ham…

… That the dog had been chomping on for about ten minutes. That ham was completely chewed up/eaten by our American Fox Hound. We went and had Chinese food for Christmas dinner instead.

5. Glorious…for some.

Wasnt a parent, but my Uncle. Christmas day some year in the 90s. We had a rule that I couldn’t wake my mum before 7am to open presents etc. One year, my uncle put all the clocks forward 3 hours. I woke up super early, as usual, see it’s 7am, wake up my uncle first, who had been out clubbing the night before and had returned with a few whistles.

I tried to wake her, she refused to get up, said it was too early. Cue 20minutes of me and my uncle running around blowing whistles and shouting wildly.

It was glorious.

6. How sweet. And unsanitary.

Every year since I can remember, on thanksgiving day, my mother wakes me up by dangling the uncooked turkey over my head.

I am not joking.

7. The original stuff sounds delicious.

On April Fool’s day one year, my mom doctored an entire meal to look like other kinds of foods. She mixed vanilla ice cream and some yellow food coloring to make “mashed potatoes,” molded green beans out of taffy, and made some kind of incredibly convincing “lasagna” out of cheesecake bits and red frosting in a casserole dish.

We were thrilled, but then she brought out an actual meal. 🙁

8. At least they thought it was funny.

Ever since I can remember, my parents have let my sister and I open one present on Christmas Eve.

One year, there were two GIANT boxes under the tree. I think I was 11 and my sister was 10, and these things were up to our chests. We could only imagine what was inside! We also knew that those boxes would be the ones we open Christmas Eve and we could not wait.

When the time came for my sister and I to open our one present each, my mom threw us a curveball. She said we could open one present each, but she got to pick which presents. To our surprise, she picks the two big boxes. Now, you have to understand that Christmas Eve used to be a big deal in my house. We would have a ton of family members over (my dad was 1 of 9, so you get the idea).

Everyone watched as my sister and I tore through the wrapping paper and ripped open the boxes. First thing we saw was crumpled up newspaper, covering whatever was inside. We threw it everywhere, anxious to see what glorious present resided in such a giant box. More newspaper. It seemed to go on forever.

Once we got to the bottom of the box, we stopped. My sister and I looked at each other in silence, confused as to why there was a brick duct taped to the bottom of the box and nothing else, while my mom pissed herself laughing in the kitchen for 15 minutes.

9. That would for sure be disturbing…until they remembered that eggs exist.

I saw a video somewhere of somebody who stuffed a Cornish hen into a turkey, then convinced the other people in the room that the turkey must have been pregnant.

10. There went that parental trust.

My mom was a pretty big health nut when my brother and I were younger, so any sort of sugary treat was always a huge deal. It was probably a weekend so we were allowed desert after dinner and my mom decides to let us have ice cream.

My brother was playing video games so my mom calls me into the kitchen to help scoop it out. Awesomeness. I spoon out three servings for us and then get ready to put on some Cool Whhipp, when she suggests we put sour cream on my brothers’ ice cream.

As a younger brother who was constantly picked on and bullied, it brought me great joy to see him take a huge bite of “Cool Whhipp” and proceed to cry hysterically afterwards.

I’m sure he lost a little bit of trust in my mother, but I still smile at that 25 years later. 🙂

11. That’s just mean.

I was in 3rd grade and I didn’t know the true meaning of April Fools day. It started off like any other morning, but as I was grabbing my backpack my mom tells me I won’t need it today because she is taking me to Six Flags instead of school.

Biggest disappointment of my life.

12. Why would you want to wake your kids up early, though.

My friend’s parents came bursting into all the kids rooms at around 3:00 am, screaming that a hurricane was coming and they were to get up and move all their furniture onto the beds.

They kids ran around piling furniture onto their beds for about an hour and a half. Finally, they ran into their parents room to tell them they were finished.

Their parents were soundly sleeping, and upon the screams of the kids, simply sat up and said, “April fools.”

13. It’s always the big mystery box.

There was a HUGE box under the Christmas tree one year. My sister and I were so anxious to open it. Our parents finally wake up and we’re crawling around the tree and sizing up presents like lions chasing after gazelles.

My father says “wait, don’t open anything! I have to go to the bathroom real quick!”

We’re sitting there patiently, waiting for the sound of him washing his hands so we know game time is upon us… what’s taking so long? We hear the sound of him brushing his teeth. Maaaaan! OK, fine. He’ll be done soon, right? We hear the water running again in the sink. NOW he’s done! Yes! NO! The water shuts off and then we hear the water in the tub running. He runs a shower, taking his sweet time… I’d say he delayed our Christmas present opening by about 30-minutes with that morning routine, but when you’re younger it feels like hours.

We were seriously trolled that morning, but the Sega Genesis and Sonic we got made up for it.

14. He never spent those $20 bills.

One Christmas, my mother bought my cousin the Asteroids game for the Atari. We had an Atari as well and really wanted the asteroids game too. We found out our cousin already had the game in his expansive collection and told my parents of this.

At this point in our lives we didn’t believe in Santa any more so my parents would wrap gifts as they were bought and torture us by leaving them under the tree, days and weeks before xmas.

This Christmas we had an Atari asteroids present wrapped beneath the tree. During the days before xmas we were all sitting around near the tree trying to guess what was in the presents. All 3 kids were like, “this is Asteroids” pointing to our new game.

My dad was like “How do you know? “It’s not Asteroids.” He got all three of us to say, “Yes it is! I’ll bet you $20 it is!” Come Christmas, we open our Asteroids to find a picture frame box with a piece of wood cut to be the size of the box. Taped to the wood were 3 $20 bills. Which we all had to give to my dad for losing the bet.

Asteroids was wrapped and hidden under the kitchen sink.

15. A gateway to Satan.

This is the 60’s, my dad and my uncle are up on the family farm, getting high in the barn. Because it’s the 60’s. Just pot, nothing out of the ordinary.

In an intoxicated haze they decided to string up the turkey feet from the turkeys that had been killed that day with a bit of string, and dance them around a bit like that Chaplin video with the dinner rolls.

They get a little carried away, making many little turkey feet thingies, and hanging them all over the barn. My grandfather walks in on them in the middle of this, and it being the 60’s, becomes convinced they have fallen in with the devil as a result of their drug use.

My father and uncle spend the next year having to attend a religious school to save them from the devil. Because of turkey feet.

16. That time the turkey shrunk.

When I was 10, my mother’s family decided to come up from Guatemala and pretend to be Americans so they could “experience” Thanksgiving for s**ts and giggles. We had about 12 people to feed.

When it came time to prepare the turkey I was ecstatic. My train of thought the entire time was “HOLY S*%T HOLY S*%T HOLY S**T!! I’M MAKING DINNER AND IT’S GONNA BE A-F**KING-MAZING!! YEAH!!”

After all was said and done, I go out to play with my friends and come back to the house at around 4:30-ish to start getting ready. I’m chilling in my room when my mom bursts through my door, screaming “ADMIRALNANO!! COME!! COME TO THE KITCHEN QUICK!! SOMETHING HAPPENED!! SOMETHING BAD!!” I panic. I knew, I just f**king knew something happened to the turkey. I yell at her “DID IT CATCH ON FIRE?! OH MY GOD!! IT CAUGHT ON FIRE!! DID IT CATCH ON FIRE!?!?! TELL MEEEEE!!!”

We stop right at the entrance to the kitchen and my mom dramatically turns to me and whispers in a panicked voice “I….I…don’t know what we’re going to do. We don’t have a backup plan.” I push through her and open the oven. The foil covering the turkey is still over the dish hiding my nightmare. My mom steps next to me and lifts it with a pair of tongs unveiling a baked cornish hen. I screamed bloody murder.


I’m bawling at this point, freaked out beyond belief that my “perfect” family Thanksgiving has just been cancelled. I turn away and start heading towards the balcony to tell our family when suddenly my mom grabs my arm and sinks to the floor in a hysterical fit of laughter.

I looked at her puzzled, and followed her into the kitchen where she opened a bottom cupboard revealing the 24 lb animal cooked to perfection. She continued laughing for another 20 minutes while I just sat on the floor questioning my family’s sanity and my own.

To this day, I still don’t know how she didn’t break character and crack up.

Tl;DR: My mom swapped our Thanksgiving turkey with a cornish hen nearly giving my 10-year old self a heart attack, for s*%ts and giggles.

BONUS: I got both drumsticks that year.

17. A mom who’s always super extra.

Man… I don’t know if this is a prank so much as a mystery.

So when I was little my mom would go all out for holidays in very creative ways. Every holiday “deity” was on par with Santa, complete with elaborate back-stories and explanations for every inconsistency (although to be fair the explanation was usually “magic!”) For example….

On Easter we each got a basket filled with treats, but had to go through elaborate treasure hunts to get them. My mom would write hints on notecards, which led us all throughout the house, the yard, maybe even the whole neighborhood. (we later realized she would hide the baskets while we were out of the house and well into our hunt, in order to guarantee that we wouldn’t accidentally find them before going through all the hints.) Also– in order to back up the story that the Easter Bunny was somehow able to fit through the mail slot to deliver said goodies– she bought a giant rubber rabbit foot stamp and made chocolate f**king paw prints all over the door, walls, etc. That’s commitment, people.
But I digress.

Every year on St. Patrick’s day, my mom dyed everything green. Green milk, green pancakes, GREEN! She said that we had to do this because the impish leprechauns would be out and about causing mayhem all day, and the only way to catch their speedy little a**es was to bait them with their favorite color. We’d set traps with a dish of food set under a shoebox, propped on a string, and our gullible butts parked around the corner waiting for the telltale “flash of sparkly green” (Because leprechauns are apparently too fast to see with the naked eye. Also very small.)

My parents would sit and watch our shenanigans, no doubt holding back their hysterical laughter.

So here’s the thing. While we were waiting for the leprechauns to take the bait, there would inevitably be a loud clatter somewhere else in the house. When we ran to see what the noise was, there would be a bunch of chocolate wrapped gold coins all over the floor. We lived in a very large, old and noisy house, so that we could easily hear this happening from a floor up or down.

Keep in mind that every single member of our household was present and accounted for at the leprechaun baiting.

The places where the coins fell were too far from us for my mother to have simply tossed them over our heads while we were distracted.

They also often fell in very stark, empty areas of the house where hidden stashes of coins or other complicated methods of coin dispersal were impossible to hide. The go-to spot seemed to be our upstairs hallway, which had all hardwood floors, sparse track lighting, absolutely no furniture, and only one entry point… which my mother would have had to pass us to use.

As we grew older, we grew more suspicious. We started to investigate our mother, all year long. Middle of August? Let’s go figure out where the f**k mom is hiding her method of chocolate coin dispersal. These witch-hunts caused some unfortunate and untimely discoveries… like all of our baby teeth stashed in mom’s nightstand (no more tooth fairy, womp womp). We also solved the riddle of the missing Victoria’s Secret catalogs… thanks for the mental image, dad. But we never figured out how the hell my mom managed to be two places at once, every St. Patrick’s day.

We’re all in our 20’s and 30’s and she still refuses to tell us how she did it.

18. Into the millennium.

New Years Eve 1999 (turning to the year 2000 at midnight) the whole extended family had gathered for a party. If you recall correctly at the time people were kinda wigging out about Y2K making everything on the power grid freak out.

Our family had not really bought into any of it except an aunt or two being slightly nervous (which they tend to be about EVERYTHING). So the time comes to watch the ball drop…3…2…1..HAPPY-OH S*%T!

The TV snaps off, the whole house goes black, and my aunt starts to lose it. Silence besides my aunt freaking out for a few seconds until I hear some laughter coming from the garage.

While my family tries to light a candle and are all chattering about what to do I go to find my father and uncle crouching behind the truck right next to the circuit breaker laughing their a$$es off as quietly as they can.

19. He just couldn’t keep it up.

When I was very little, my dad would talk in a high pitched voice when I wasn’t looking. The voice told me he was a little bird and he was my friend.

We would talk all the time and I would beg him to come out from where he was hiding and visit me. It started on a very long road trip to visit my grandparents and he continued to do it once we got home.

One day I was looking under all the furniture trying to find the little bird while we talked and I spun around suddenly and caught him in mid-sentence.

It was kind of devastating.

20. Thanks for the socks.

My parents gave me socks for Christmas when I was little.

I was supremely upset, but I knew they’d discipline me hardcore if I complained, so I accepted it and pretended to be grateful.

I started to begrudgingly check out my bland new socks out when a 50 popped out of them, and they started laughing their a**es off while I looked at the bill dumbfounded.

I’m 23 now, and they’re still fantastic. 😀

21. The excitement was worth it.

Every Christmas, my brother and I would visually inspect the gifts under the tree to see what belongs to who and to guess what they could be (since we weren’t allowed to touch/rearrange them).

One year, there was a big box all the way in the back that didn’t have a name on it, so we asked our mom who it was for. She said “It’s for your dad. It’s a ##-piece gift set for men; you know, with a wallet and a flask and stuff.” We thought it was a pretty cool idea, and we let it go.

Tune in to Christmas morning, we hand him the box excitedly, waiting to see his reaction to this gift. He goes to start opening it, then says “Hey, why don’t you guys help me open it?” shrug Sweet, more wrapping paper to shred. Paper comes off… aaaand it’s a Playstation 2.

We lost our minds for a good minute or so, before we turned on our mom (with a video camera in hand) and start hysterically screaming “YOU LIED! YOU LIED TO US! YOU’RE A LIAR!”

She thought it was hilarious. And it was. We were beyond ecstatic. Favorite part is watching that tape years later and hearing our childish, squeaky voices. 🙂

22. Magic crabs.

One of my uncles loved to make the younger cousins chase after “leaf crabs,” little crabs that made the leaves run across the pavement (wind).

When the kids would pick up the leaves, they’d be “gone,” and he’d say they buried themselves because they were scared.

23. An impromptu game show.

Not a holiday prank, but still awesome. After my Bar Mitzvah my family all gathered at my grandparents house and gave me gifts then. It started with the usual, cards with checks, clothes, gift cards…and then I get a box with no name on it.

So I unwrap the box, and inside is a book about stars and planets. I’m confused, so my grandmother asks if I want to trade what’s in that box for another wrapped package. So not quite knowing what’s going on I agree. This one is a little model of a space shuttle. Cue same quizzical look, followed by an offer to trade for a slightly larger box. I trade up to a tshirt and hat that have the NASA logo on them.

This routine continues until I’ve traded up to a check for 500 dollars, and have added a blank plane ticket, a water bottle, and a pair of aviator sunglasses as well.

The entire time that I’ve been opening boxes, my father and uncles are nowhere to be found, and the whole family is acting like the audience at a taping of The Price is Right. So finally my dad and uncles walk into the room wearing identical plain grey sweatshirts and holding one last package..it looks like a picture in a frame. One final time they ask me if I want to trade for what they have, or keep everything else I’ve already opened.

Half of the people in the room are yelling to keep what I’ve got, the other half are saying to open it. I bite the bullet and take the wrapped frame. As I open it, Dad and my uncles all spin around and start taking off their sweatshirts. I’m confused again, so I look down at the picture.

It’s not a picture…It’s a certificate good for a session at Space Camp in Huntsville the following summer. I look up and they’re all standing there wearing Space Camp t-shirts with giant grins on their faces. I’m sitting there in absolute shock before it hits me…IM GOING TO FREAKING SPACE CAMP!!!!!!!

I lost it. I was laughing, crying, happy, overwhelmed
I’d talked about wanting to go to Space Camp since I was about 6 years old. They all got together and made it happen. Even 11 years later I remember the feeling of pure joy when I saw that certificate, and that 2 weeks in Huntsville the following summer were absolutely amazing.

24. Parents love to have a bit of fun.

For my birthday when I was little I told my parents all I wanted was the new Kirby’s Dream Land game for GameBoy. When it came time to give me presents there was this huge one wrapped for me, and after pulling the wrapping off I discover it was a Kirby vacuum cleaner box.

I start freaking out, as my tiny mind starts putting pieces together, meanwhile they’re acting all concerned saying things like, “I thought you wanted a Kirby?”

Of course after awhile of me dying inside they begin to laugh and tell me to open the box, inside after enough digging and cardboard, I found the cartridge waiting at the bottom.

25. Scarred for life.

I don’t know if this counts as a prank, but for my 6th birthday my mom chased me around the house with a live lobster… to this day I fear most arthropods…

26. The longest day of his life (so far).

Back during the holidays in 2001, I broke my leg and was pretty miserable hobbling around school and all that. I was stuck every single day waiting in the principal’s office after school waiting for a parent to pick me up because I couldn’t take the bus with a cast on and crutches (and the principal was a family friend). I couldn’t hang out with friends much because I was pretty immobile and my friends just wanted to horse around outside.

Miserable ‘ol me begged my parents to get Tony Hawk 2 for the GBA as my Hanukkah gift (yep, another Jew on Reddit). They had known that I really wanted a PS2, but it was pretty expensive for just a gift, so that’s why I turned to the GBA game. Come Hanukkah, I get my gift on day 1 and it’s Tony Hawk 3 for the PS2. I, of course, didn’t have a PS2. My mom apologized profusely and said we would go out the next day and she would let me get Tony Hawk and any other game from the store.

I got into bed that night and there was a big a$$ box under the covers when I tried to get in. Inside that box was a PS2 that my parents got me for Hanukkah and to help me be less miserable while my leg healed. I’ll never forgive my parents for waiting until 10 PM to give me a new game console though… the next day of school felt like the longest of my life.

TL;DR Parents tricked me into thinking they got me a game for a console I didn’t own. They actually bought the console and had it hidden.

27. A lifelong phobia.

My dad used to take the shells that cicadas leave behind after they morph and put them on his tongue. He would then come up behind my sister and I, scream, then when we turned around he would be eye level with us and proceed to chase us around. He also used to pretend to throw cockroaches at us.

I still have an unnatural fear of those two bugs. Like, I scream like a little girl and run for my life when I see them.

Side note: when I was looking up pictures of cicadas to show y’all my phone buzzed and I screamed and fell out of my chair trying to get away from it. I’m glad no one else is here right now…

28. His pretty new hands.

When I was a kid, we went to a farm for Thanksgiving and they slaughtered our turkey. They cut the feet off, and I took them and put them inside my sweater, and grab them as if they were my hands. I was small enough that the ratio was such that it could have looked like I really did have scaly reptilian hands.

My mom was laying on the couch taking a nap so I went up to her quietly, and touched her cheek with one of my new hands.

When she started to stir I started screaming “IM CHANGING! IM CHANGING! IT HURTS SO BAD!!!” She freaked the f**k out and started screaming like crazy.

She tried to back up against the back of the couch and went over the edge of it and it took several members of my family to calm her down. Still, nobody took my new hands away.

29. There was penance for the attitude.

This happened around the year I was born, actually, but it’s a famous little joke my parents played that was talked about in my family for years.

Anyway, my older brothers really wanted an NES. It was the only thing they wanted for Christmas, but my family was pretty poor and my parents told them over and over that it wasn’t likely they’d get it, but their little hearts just refused to give up hope. Christmas day they open their presents and… nope. No NES.

My one brother was upset the most – he’d been the one most vehement about getting the system, but he was trying to be happy with what he got. After a couple hours my parents told him to scrub out the oven so they could get the ham going, and my brother was pissed.

Come on, having to do stuff? On Christmas? Can’t they just cook it in the oven as it is? My dad basically said to shut up and do what he was told. So my brother glumly went over to the oven and opened it up… and there was the Nintendo, with a couple games. He was ecstatic.

He couldn’t play it until after he scrubbed the god**mn oven, though.

Y’all, I honestly aspire to be this hilarious and have this good of timing at some point in my life.

If your family is the prank-playing type, share the best of the best with us down in the comments!