15 People Who Played Unforgettable Family Pranks

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.

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.

14. 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 shits 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 SHIT!! 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.

13. 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 fucking 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 asses 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 fuck 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.

12. 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.

11. 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.

10. 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 asses off while I looked at the bill dumbfounded.

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

9. 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. 🙂

8. 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.

7. 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.

6. 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.

5. 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…

4. 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 ass 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.

3. 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…

2. 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.

1. 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!