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Present Peeking

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There are some people in fiction as well as in real life who try to peek at their presents early. Naturally, the person who is giving the presents, usually a parent, tries to find a hiding place where the presents can't be found before the big event. Usually done with children around Christmas time, but the trope can be used for other gift-giving occasions as well.

A variant happens when your character finds a hidden gift meant for somebody else, and assumes it's for them. Hilarity Ensues when the gift-giver tries to find a way to tell them the truth or tries to procure a copy of the present. This situation may be Played for Drama when the character realizes that the gift they found hidden wasn't given to them at all, and they might start suspecting infidelity.


Related to Gift Shake.


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  • There's a commercial where a guy manages to open the gift without any damage. Inside is a cellphone that suddenly rings. On the other end is his wife, who simply says, "Honey, put it back."
  • In an ad for Disneyland's 50th anniversary, Goofy, working as a janitor, peeks inside a gift box marked "Do Not Open for 50 Years", releasing a spark that decorates the resort with new attractions and experiences. Goofy then wraps it back up and walks away with a Not-So-Innocent Whistle.
    Announcer: Our 50th anniversary is a celebration so big, we can hardly contain ourselves.

  • Superman: In some of the early comics, one of the first of Clark Kent's powers is the ability to see inside the gift wrappings.
  • Archie Comics: Archie bought his mom a sweater for her birthday, and asked Veronica to hide it at her house. However Veronica's mom snoops around for her anniversary present and finds the sweater! What's more, she loves it! But her husband, billionaire Mr. Lodge, had actually bought his wife a mink coat.

     Comic Strips  
  • Foxtrot: Jason Fox once started ripping into his presents on Christmas Eve, explaining that as it was technically Christmas Day for American troops stationed in Afghanistan, he was opening them at the same time they were. Roger retaliates by calling to have his son shipped off to Afghanistan.
  • The children of The Family Circus frequently managed to find their hidden Christmas presents. Needless to say, their parents are not happy when this happens.

    Fan Works 
  • In "Christmas in Kansas", part of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Hearts series, Bruce Wayne includes a layer of lead foil in the wrapping of his Chistmas present to Clark Kent. When Clark complains, moments after seeing it for the first time, Bruce points out that the fact that he's already noticed means that it was a justified precaution.
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf novel, at Empath's 150th birthday party, Jokey presents Empath with what appears to be his normal exploding gift box surprise. Empath, being a telepath, ponders about using his abilities to get a sense of what's actually in the gift box, but then realizes that it would spoil the surprise and decides to hazard opening it. As it turns out, the gift box contains his new Star-Spangled Spandex suit.

  • Referenced in The Last Starfighter:
    Centauri: (to Alex) Hey, are you kind of kid who reads the last page of a mystery first? Who pesters the magician to tell you his tricks? Who sneaks downstairs to peek at his Christmas presents? Noooo, of course you're not.
  • In Love Actually, one woman accidentally finds a golden necklace and gets excited. But her husband actually bought it for his Love Interest (though not a lover) from work. When she opens the present of the same shape and size with her family, she's visibly disappointed because it's a CD. The CD is very meaningful, but she figures out he bought the necklace for someone else.
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation has a scene where Clark tucks a present away deep in the rafters of his attic in order to prevent this…and discovers an old, dust-covered Mother's Day gift that he'd hidden several years before in the same place and completely forgotten about.

  • Belles on Their Toes: One Christmas morning before dawn, Martha comes downstairs to find Mother poking and shaking the presents to find out what they are. Mother confesses that she and Dad always used to come down for "a preview."
  • In the Black Jewels extended story "Winsol Gifts", adult offspring try to do this with their Winsol presents, as well as youngsters. Saetan anticipated this attempt and used magic to make it impossible for even his more powerful son to open his present early.

     Live Action TV  
  • In the Doctor Who Christmas episode, "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe", the widow's youngest child gets curious and has to peek at the Doctor's big present. As usual in this series, being curious quickly gets him into trouble. Even the Doctor is forced to admit how dumb it was he didn't anticipate this.
    DOCTOR: It was a present, and it wasn't supposed to be opened till Christmas Day. Honestly, who opens their Christmas presents early? (Lily stares at him) Okay. Shut up. Everyone.
  • The X-Files, episode "Christmas Carol": In a Happy Flashback, teenage Melissa and Dana go to the tree to peek at their presents. Mrs. Scully comes to them as well, and they open their presents with golden crosses together.
  • Friends:
    • In "The One With The Routine", Rachel and Phoebe look for their presents from Monica. They claim they do it every year as part of Christmas fun, but they have never found them. Rachel persuades Chandler to join them so that he can give Monica gifts of the same value.
      Rachel: I mean what if she gets you a great present, two medium presents, and a bunch of little presents? And you've just gotten her one great present? I mean that's just gonna make her feel bad. Why would you do that to her Chandler? Why? Why?
    • Monica is impatient to see what she and Chandler got for their wedding presents. First she unwraps just a tiny gift, which is a salt shaker, but she ends up opening all of them, and doesn't manage to wrap them again for Chandler's benefit.
  • On an episode of Even Stevens, Louis locates where his parents hid the Hanukkah presents and takes a peek. In doing so, he somehow manages to destroy all the presents.
  • There's a Frasier episode where everyone who isn't Frasier unwrap their presents, then they wrap everything up again.
  • A Sam & Cat episode reveals that Cat has this problem. When on "Yay Day" (A holiday she invented that involves getting presents), she sneaks out of bed in the middle of the night and opens a present Sam got for her. It contains mouthwash, deeply offending her. It later turns out that the mouthwash was for Goomer and she had accidentally got the nametags mixed up on the presents. Except this is after she had threw out her gift for Sam in revenge, which causes drama on both their parts.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • Gina and Charles find and open early a gift that's for Gina's mom from Charles's dad in order to find out about their relationship. Neither of them wants them to be serious.
      Gina: We need to figure out what is in this horrible package, so we can determine where they're at in their relationship.
    • Gina says she peeks at presents all the time to practise her reactions.
      Gina: I always open my gifts in advance, so I can rehearse my reactions and nail those Christmas-morning candids.
  • The Thin Blue Line: Inspector Fowler receives a present of some ladies' underwear, intended for somebody else. Unfortunately, just as Fowler is about to restore it to its rightful owner, his desperate-for-love girlfriend finds it, and delightedly assumes it's Fowler's present to her.

  • In "The Dr. Steel Christmas Special", Doctor Steel gets impatient and decides to open some of his presents early.
    "My Christmas tree is simply overflowing with kind gifts. Thank you ever so much. I certainly cannot wait until Christmas. And so... [Record Scratch] I won't!"

  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Mr. Boynton's Parents", Mr. Conklin leaves his Mother's Day present with Miss Brooks, as his wife and daughter are inveterate snoopers. When Mr. Boynton's parents stay with Miss Brooks and Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Boynton finds the present in her room. Mrs. Boynton's a present peeker as well, she can't wait for Mother's Day, so she opens it.
    Mrs. Boynton: A black shear negligee!
    Mr. Boynton: Well Happy Mother's Day!

    Video Games 
  • Tattle Tail's plot kicks off with this—the child protagonist sneaks a peek at his Christmas gifts five days early, unwrapping the titular toy.

     Web Comics  
  • One year in Kevin & Kell Coney attempted to do this, but forgot that her sister Lindesfarne became nocturnal, and was awake to catch her. Another year she stuck her quills on the gifts to keep Rudy from doing the same.
  • In Love and Capes, Crusader (a Captain Ersatz of Superman) has magnetic resonance vision, and he uses it a few times to peek at people's presents without opening them. His friend Darkblade, being a Captain Ersatz of Batman, has apparently dealt with it enough to develop a wrapping paper just to foil it.

     Western Animation  
  • In the Rugrats episode "Regarding Stuie" the babies had Stu, whose mind had been reverted to that of a baby thanks to bump on the head, grab a box high in the closet which they thought contained Christmas presents.
  • In the Lilo & Stitch: The Series episode "Topper" it's shown Lilo has done this so often she knows how to open her presents carefully so Nani can't tell she did.
  • In the Ruby Gloom episode "Happy Yam Ween" Iris is shown to be this kind of kid.
    Iris: I'm just going to look at the presents. I'm not going to open them all up and then rewrap them.
  • In The Simpsons in one Christmas episode, Bart wakes up very early to see the gifts before the others. He ends up accidentally destroying all the presents and the tree as well in a fire.
  • In the Christmas episode of Justice League, Superman/Clark Kent's parents mention how young Clark used to peek at his presents with his X-ray vision. Later that night, (adult) Clark sneaks into the room with the tree—and finds his presents are all wrapped in X-ray-blocking lead foil.
  • In the Ed, Edd n Eddy Christmas Episode "Ed Edd 'n' Eddy's Jingle-Jingle Jangle", Eddy finds his Christmas presents and peeks inside, only to be severely disappointed. ("A dickie? They still make these?") He then goes house to house trying to get some of the other kids' presents instead.
  • Referenced in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, with the Joker comparing finding out about Batman's secret identity to peeking at Christmas presents... and finding the contents "sadly anticlimactic".
  • The first Christmas episode of South Park, the boys talk about going through their parents' closets to see what they're getting for Christmas. Cartman then talks about going through his mom's closet, and thinks he getting a toy, which based on the name of it, is clearly his mother's vibrator. He's completely oblivious to this though.


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