How To Survive Christmas with Cinematic Pranks (According to the Movies)

I know that the holidays are a time for cheer, goodwill towards others, and all that good stuff. But with all the stress, crowds, and busy schedules that also come with the season, it’s hard not to want to blow off a little steam. If you are willing to risk getting a last minute addition to the “naughty list,” here are some pranks inspired by holiday films that should keep you laughing (albeit usually at the expensive of someone else). I mean, who said April 1st is the only acceptable day out of the year to pull pranks?

1. Christmas Tree Surprise

Inspired by National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, just when the Griswolds thought nothing else could go wrong during their holiday celebration, their freshly chopped down Christmas tree warranted an unexpected guest (and hilarious moment) when a squirrel jumped out of the tree and wreaked havoc on the house. To re-create this hilarious moment (and scare whichever “lucky” person you target walking by the tree) simply get your own fake squirrel and rig it to a spring-loaded attachment within the tree. Make sure the attachment can be triggered by remote so you can be far from the tree (and suspicion) when the attack happens.

2. Give Fake Out Christmas Presents

In case you didn’t read my present guide in time or just simply want to prank the person you’re gifting, take a cue from Christmas Vacation’s Aunt Bethany (Mae Questel) and wrap up every day household items like a Jell-O mold (although PETA would probably discourage you against wrapping up the family cat, or any pet without proper ventilation). Maybe you “borrowed” something and forgot to return it – wrap it up! Random knick-knacks you no longer want? Wrap it up! You can even take things one step further and wrap smaller items in bigger boxes to throw-off the person opening them. Or even wrap your gifts in the shape of something else!

3. Elf-ify Christmas Dinner

Give mom (or whoever cooks your holiday feast) the night off and volunteer to cook. Then make like Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) and whip up a batch of spaghetti, covered in maple syrup. Plus that sugar high should keep everyone awake for Midnight Mass!

4. Mix-and-Match Your Holidays

Bored with Christmas? Look to Halloween Town’s Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon) and put your own spin on the holiday! Maybe mix it up with the 4th of July to infuse a little summer fun into the winter holiday? Swap out the green and pair your red with some white and blue. Invite your friends and family over to BBQ burgers instead of sitting down to the typical Christmas Eve roast. Not a big fan of the 4th? Why not switch up your religious holidays and plan an Easter egg hunt instead of having everyone open gifts on Christmas morning? Surprise everyone by not letting them in on the switch until they’re all huddled around the BBQ or looking for eggs instead of gifts. Celebrating is celebrating, right?

5. Fun with Frozen Tricks

Everyone knows you’re not supposed to lick a flagpole when it’s cold outside because, as we learned from A Christmas Story’s Flick (Scott Schwartz), your tongue will get stuck! But it is funny when it happens to someone else. If a triple dog dare won’t do the trick, set up a “tasting booth” and have one of the windows actually be a frozen pole. Blindfold the participant (there should probably be the enticement of a prize involved) and have them go down the line, licking candy canes and stamps (postage needed for those letters to Santa) and try to guess what each is, leaving them open to willingly lick a frozen pole for your amusement. It’s gross and more than a little mean, but come on, who hasn’t wanted to see someone get their tongue stuck to a frozen pole? Would be worth the extra effort for a more elaborate prank.

6. Creating the Invisible Man

Ever wish someone would just disappear? An annoying friend or family member? Use this holiday season to re-create the idea from It’s A Wonderful Life and have everyone pretend like that person never existed. This prank will take getting everyone in on the gag to act as though the person being targeted is not there. To make it more “believable” you could even have key players change up their look or attitude to really confuse the person you’re pranking.

7. Fat Jokes Encouraged

Want to really freak out your friends and/or family? Pretend like you’re turning into jolly ol’ Saint Nick himself! You’ll have to commit to this one to change your appearance from that white hair and beard to the belly full of jelly. Look to Tim Allen’s transformation in The Santa Clause and start categorizing everyone as “naughty” or “nice” while eating only Christmas cookies and hot cocoa. If Rob McElenney (Mac in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) can gain weight just for a joke, so can you!

8. Let the Past Improve Your Future

Take advantage of one of the oldest Christmas stories in the book (A Christmas Carol) and use it convince your friends or family to do what you want. Wish your cousin would stop picking on you? Or that your dad would forget you promised to shovel the drive? Hope your friend would let you keep that video game you borrowed (especially since you’re thisclose to beating it)? Have your friends dress up as the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future to visit your cousin, dad or friend in the middle of the night and scare/convince them to be nice, give you a pass on this particular chore or “give” you the game.

Now go out there and get your prank on! And just blame a younger sibling or cousin if you get caught.

Toss a squirrel in a tree and enjoy the rest of the entries in our 2011 Holiday Survival Guide.

Allison has always been fascinated by the power music has when paired with an image – particularly its effect in film. Thanks to a background in recording and her days spent licensing music to various productions (including, of course, movies), Allison can usually be found sticking around to see all the songs noted in a film’s credits and those listening to her iTunes inevitably ask, “What movie is this song from?”

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