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Gift Shake

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If it breaks, it's Odie's.

A character obtains a wrapped present and shakes it in order to identify the contents. Sometimes said shaking breaks the gift inside, which was fragile. This might be spun as black humor if the gift was something alive, although sometimes this will be subverted by having the gift-giver stop the would-be shaker before the creature inside is harmed.

Compare to Present Peeking which also involves unwrapping the presents.


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    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot: Jason shakes a present and says "Ooh! I wonder what this is?" A shattering noise is heard as he tells his friend Marcus "That's why I never shake my own presents."
  • Garfield:
    • One strip has Garfield shaking a Christmas present that goes "rattle, rattle" and saying "I hope it's for me." Then it goes "rattle, rattle, CRACK!" and Garfield says "I hope it's for Odie."
    • In another strip, Garfield tries weighing, measuring, and shaking a present to determine what's inside, then says "So much for the scientific method", grabs Jon's face, and demands to know what it was.
    • In another, John catches Garfield shaking presents and asks if he's been peeking. Garfield replies that he's only been doing it with his ears.
  • Over the Hedge: Verne, anxious to know what RJ got him, shakes his present and concludes it's not alive. RJ passes by and adds "Anymore..."

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Balls of Fury: At the end, Randy gives his master a gift. He vigorously shakes it before Randy has a chance to tell him that it's a new lucky cricket, which is now dead.
  • Carol: When Therese gives Carol a vinyl record as a Christmas present, Carol playfully shakes it before unwrapping it, making Therese laugh.
  • Gremlins (1984): Billy starts to do this but is quickly stopped by his father since the box contains Gizmo.
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol: In the ending, when Scrooge delivers gifts to his elderly former mentors, Fozziwig shakes his while holding it to his hearing horn so that he can hear it properly.
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation: Clark Griswold shakes one of Aunt Bethany's gifts after Rusty brings it to his parents and announces that the box is meowing:

  • Black Jewels: In "Winsol Gifts", Saetan anticipates this and actually has prepared some obvious, attractive presents that rattle nicely, filled with junk, to save the more delicate gifts.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alma GĂȘmea: Ofélia shakes the tiny Christmas present Roberval gave to the whole family, and it doesn't even make a sound.
  • Happy Days: In the Very Special Christmas Episode, Ritchie's brother Chuck, who is going to college on a basketball scholarship, gets a round object covered in paper. Joanie bounces it over to him, which Chuck admonishes her for since it might be fragile... before giving it a good shake himself.
    Joanie: Here's a present from Richie to you. What do you think it is? bounces it to Chuck
    Chuck: Hey, watch it. shakes It might be something breakable.
  • Home Improvement: The boys shake their presents but hear nothing and conclude that they're clothes.
  • Mrs. Brown's Boys: In "Mammy's Memories?", after Winnie drops off a gift envelope for Cathy's birthday, Agnes holds it up to the light, shakes it next to her ear, and sniffs it for good measure.
  • The Red Green Show: One Christmas episode has Harold attempt to demonstrate the proper package-shaking technique, and of course send the (breakable) present flying.
  • Roseanne: A quick gag has the Conner kids test their presents this way "for the good stuff", so Dan and Roseanne start wrapping the toys in cloths.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch:
    • In the Season 2 Christmas Episode, Sabrina is suffering from a condition called "egotitis", due to the fact that she still has a somewhat childish and selfish view of Christmas. Because she suffers this, she's forbidden to receive presents on Christmas. When her presents disappear as she's about to open one, she gives the following lament:
      "Awww, I shook that one last night. It was good."
    • Sabrina's roommate, Morgan, can determine the contents of any gift by shaking it.
  • Saturday Night Live: In a December 2022 Sketch titled "Jennifer Coolidge is Impressed by Christmas Stuff," Chloe Fineman as Coolidge is impressed with holiday staples like lights and carols. At one point she shakes a gift, guessing from the sound that it contains an antique doll with one eye. She is correct.
  • Scarecrow and Mrs. King: In the first episode, Amanda's son Philip does this and saves the day. The present he shakes and "breaks" contained a secret message. Philip is able to tell his mom the message — which makes no sense to the spies, but which Amanda figures out is recipes on a cooking show being used to send information to Soviet spies.

  • MAD: A gag has a dad shake the gift from his son, open it... and discover that it's a ship in a bottle, which has been pulverized by the shaking.

  • The Gift of Christmas, a looping radio show that many radio stations play during the holidays (mostly Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), has a sketch where "Captain Christmas" comes to the aid of a lady who has two identically wrapped gifts for a girl and a boy. The boy traditionally opens presents on Christmas Eve, while the girl is Norwegian and opens hers on Christmas Day. The labels fell off both, and Captain Christmas has to find out which gift belongs to whom. He shakes one of the gifts increasingly furiously, with audible glass breaking coming from the box, and comes to the conclusion that the one he shook wasn't the wine glasses that the Norweigan girl asked for.

  • xkcd: Strip 1151 has a variation, where Megan soaks her presents first in purple dye and then in pink — a procedure used in biological research to sort bacteria into one of two primary types, gram-positive and -negative, based on whether their cells walls bond with the purple dye or not — and announces that none of the presents are gram-negative. Cueball remarks that he wishes she hadn't opened the home biology kit first.

    Web Original 
  • Pusheen the Cat: In Pip's Present, Pip shakes the Christmas gift that Pusheen gives him that comes attached with a warning not to open before Christmas. His guesses go from roast turkey to a full playground set to a car. In the end, the box is revealed to be empty. Pusheen knew he would try to peek at the gift, so she gives him the empty box as a decoy and keeps the actual present.

    Western Animation 
  • DuckTales (2017): In "How Santa Stole Christmas", Webby shakes a bunch of presents in Santa's sleigh and is able to accurately guess what is inside each one.
  • Garfield and Friends: On the advice of Garfield's evil side, he jumps into the mail cart, and, after finding the package Jon is waiting for, shakes it. This doesn't break it directly, but he accidentally drops it on the brake, releasing it, while it bounces off onto the sidewalk. Turns it was a present for him... a personalized mug, which promptly shatters in his hands as soon as he tempts fate.
  • Looney Tunes: "This Is a Life?": Bugs Bunny shakes a wrapped gift Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam give him in and then pauses to listen. The ticking tips him off that it's a bomb. A game of "You take it" ensues.
  • The Simpsons: In a Christmas episode, by shaking Lisa's present, Bart is not only able to tell that she's getting a sweater, but also that it's hand-knitted and yellow.