We’ve all had that moment when you get the horrible holiday gift and have to grin through a very fake smile with you “thank you!” My last instance was a relative giving me some sort of footed penguin-print pajamas when I was about 18. Not quite the cool teenage look I was going for.

It was a moment like that that inspired Minnesota-based graphic designer Arik Nordby to create fake gift boxes. His company Prank Pack has offered trick boxes for the last three years. It’s simple – you buy a flatpack that folds into a box touting a ridiculous product, and then you put your real gift inside. Or cheapskates can skip the “real gift inside” part. Moving on from such earlier fake products like a USB toaster, the six offerings for Christmas 2009 are a motorized rolling pin, Coffee Talkies mugs/2-way radios, the Dream Griddle Alarm Clock, the Beer Beard beverage dispenser, the Birdie Belt golfer GPS, and the Noggin’ Net fishing net/hat.

Nordby’s inspiration came when his 8-year-old nephew was handed a coffee maker box containing his gift, and he was scared he had indeed gotten a coffee maker. “He had this puzzled look on his face. So the adults went with it and made him squirm,” Nordby says. “He put on a fake smile. But he was so relieved to get his real gift inside. Everybody got a laugh out of it.”

He says the box itself can be a gift that keeps on giving. “When the joke is revealed – after what I call the WTF moment – then the box just gets passed around and it can make the party a little more social for a half hour.” Indeed, the boxes have some note-perfect details in the wording and images – like the “pancakes in bed” recipe on the Dream Griddle.

Unsurprisingly, one of his original retail partners was The Onion’s website, and now you can also buy PrankPacks at their website,, Urban Outfitters, and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

What do you think? Will you try to prank someone during gift-giving this Christmas? Any other good gift prank ideas? Do you think the Beer Beard should be a real product?