I usually pull some practical joke on my father for the occasion; my mother waits too long to go to bed, so I can't do anything on her.
This year: Project Box Conspiracy.
My father creates circuit boards to control stepper motors. (I'd give you the URL, but I'd just as soon my parents not find this journal. My dad checks out every unusual link-from request he sees, and something from LiveJournal.com would definitely get sniffed at. Sorry.) He orders little cardboard boxes in stacks of 100; we have to assemble them, but I can slap one together from the cut and scored cardboard in under fifteen seconds.
We got one shipment of boxes where half of them were okay, but the other half had tears in the corners. We folded them anyway, but we won't ship them to customers- they might not survive shipping, and it's unprofessional anyway.
So I had this nice pile of twenty-seven little white cardboard boxes, slightly imperfect, availible. (There were thirty-five; eight of them have been used for other purposes- holding a "Confusion" deck, holding gaming stones, holding spare Magic: The Gathering cards and dice. They're useful, really.)
This year, I went for something surrealistic. Last year's was for a surprise laugh; this was aiming for a double-take of "What the @#$%?" when my father sleepily staggers down to his office.
According to him (I asked), Project Box Conspiracy worked exactly like that. He didn't catch on until he saw the note on his white board explaining it...
Project Box Conspiracy was simple: I put one small, closed, white cardboard box on top of almost every surface and object in the room. Computer monitor, laptop computer, clock, stack of papers, shredder, another stack of papers, stamp box, blood-pressure reader, stereo system...
Imagine going into a room where literally everything had a little cardboard box sitting on top of it. Now you're getting an idea of how surreal the entire situation was.
When I woke up this morning to get my morning caffiene, I found 24 of the boxes (the other three were still in their locations in my dad's office) sitting in a four-level ring at my place at the table surrounding my cup of tea, helpfully pre-made by my father, labeled with a post-it note: "The counterattack!"
I deserved that.