Every Christmas for more than 30 years The Mad Wrapper brings an “escape room” style experience to our home. To open your gift, you must solve a puzzle, control a gadget, or find the secret of an optical illusion. The unveiling is just crazy. Read More

Bell Model 202 Bluetooth Telephone (1930-2018)

December 25, 2018

Bell Model 202 Bluetooth Telephone (1930-2018)

Using the magic of Arduino, I revived an antique Bell model 202 telephone and added Bluetooth capability to it. There are two parts to this. On one end I have…

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Blockhead Augmented Reality

December 25, 2017

Blockhead Augmented Reality

  Use an iPhone Augmented Reality App to scan a QR code to find your gift.   2017 was an epic Mad Wrapper year of the magic of new technology….

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Message in a Tree

December 25, 2016

Message in a Tree

Guests encounter a 3-foot Christmas tree decorated in colored lights. Green letters are scrawled one at a time to form a message. The words arrive slowly: Ho Ho Ho The…

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Scratch Hologram

December 25, 2015

Scratch Hologram

A scratch hologram is one of those “hidden in plain sight” tricks.  To see the message just angle the glass toward the sun and presto!  This is an excellent way…

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Cloak of Invisibility

December 25, 2014

Cloak of Invisibility

Hidden in plain sight, you will need a blacklight to read the invisible ink on the presents under the tree. This year folks found a bulk of packages under the…

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3D Red and Blue

December 25, 2013

3D Red and Blue

Put on the special goggles and your name pops out of the paper.  Go ahead and open the gift! Presents under the tree include one with special goggles plus a…

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Rock Paper Scissors

December 25, 2012

Rock Paper Scissors

Everyone gets a deck of rock-paper-scissors cards.  Play them in order.  Your gift is determined by how long you can stay in the game. Eight gifts are decorated with Ribbons:…

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Fire & Candles

December 25, 2011

Fire & Candles

Insert a message inside a candle.  As the candle burns, the message reveals itself. Warning! Use precaution when working with fire.  Make sure candles are not lit near flammable objects.  Also,…

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Spiderman Jigsaw

December 25, 2010

Spiderman Jigsaw

Put together a puzzle and discover that there are a few missing pieces.  The holes in the puzzle reveal a person’s initials.  If these are your initials go ahead and…

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Timex Ironman Watch

December 25, 2009

Timex Ironman Watch

In the mid-2000’s Timex sold the Ironman Datalink USB — a watch that you could program.  I reprogrammed the watch to help guests at the party find their gifts.  There…

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Crystal Cube

December 25, 2008

Crystal Cube

Using layers of plexiglass write names such that each name is complete only when the cube is tilted in a special direction.

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Lenticular

December 25, 2007

Lenticular

The image changes based on the viewing angle. View the lenticular from the correct angle to find out if the gift is yours. The angle is defined by a special…

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Bad Chess

December 25, 2006

Bad Chess

Play a bizarre game of bad chess indicated by moves on a card attached to a package.  The game ends when someone’s initial(s) are presented by the final standing pieces….

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Monogrammed Toast

December 25, 2005

Monogrammed Toast

Put a slice of bread into the correct slot in a hacked toaster. Wait. Up pops toast monogrammed with your initials! Great fun and happy eating! Hack a toaster by…

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Alignment of the stars

December 25, 2004

Alignment of the stars

Align two pieces of plywood correctly so drilled holes will line up to display a person’s initials.

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Card Tricks

December 25, 2003

Card Tricks

Each gift comes with a deck of marked cards. Put the cards in order to reveal a name spelled out on the edge of the deck.  If is your name,…

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Plasma Ball

December 25, 2002

Plasma Ball

Every gift comes with an ornament attached.  Place the ornament against a Plasma Ball to find out whose gift it is. Warning Warning.  Be careful.  Never leave plasma ball unattended….

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Magnetic strip

December 25, 2001

Magnetic strip

Gifts are tagged with a very long thin magnet.  The magnet is embedded with a message decoded by magnetic decoding film.  Very easy to make. Cheap magnets often found attached…

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Monogrammed Pancakes

December 25, 2000

Monogrammed Pancakes

Turn the crank on a giant machine and stop in the right position.  place you pancake into the slot and sprinkle it with powdered sugar from a sifter.  Monogrammed pancake! …

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HitClips

December 25, 1999

HitClips

In 1999, Tiger HitClips were all the rage with the kids.  I modified a set of these to play a TWM message instead of the usual Britney Spears or NSYNC…

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Braille

December 25, 1998

The gifts came with cardboard tags.  Glued to the tags are rhinestones positioned to spell out a person’s name in braille — lettering for the visually impaired.  

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Beads

December 25, 1997

Beads

Beads are stacked on pegs to spell out a person’s name.

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Golfball Xylophone

December 25, 1996

Golfball Xylophone

Place 3ft rails on a pegboard according to instructions on a gift. Roll a golf ball down the ramps. The bin it drops into is labeled with a name.  If…

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GPS Road Trip

December 25, 1995

GPS Road Trip

Insert a floppy drive into your computer, connect up another computer and run DeLorme GPS software to simulate a trip across America.  If the destination town matches your name (or…

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Paint by number

December 25, 1994

Paint by number

All shapes on a sheet of paper attached to a gift are numbered.  Each number matches a crayon color.  Fill it all in with the correct colors to reveal the…

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Stereograms

December 25, 1993

Stereograms

Hidden in plain sight! Early in the 1990s Magic Eye Stereograms were at the height of popularity.  Each gift is labelled with a stereogram of a person’s name. Cross your…

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The Great Marble Sort!

December 25, 1992

The Great Marble Sort!

Attached each gift is a marble. Yup.  That’s it! On closer inspection, each marble is a different size. Drop yours into the marble sorting toothpick machine. Where it lands determines…

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POV Midair Magic

December 25, 1991

POV Midair Magic

Wave the magic wand and chant “Umba gadda boomba, …” in a dark room.  A person’s name is spelled out in mid air. Persistence of vision has become a fad…

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Remote Control Car

December 25, 1990

Remote Control Car

An electronic circuit controls the remote on a remote-controlled car.  A person’s initials are spelled out as the car drives around the “track”. I hacked the remote adding a connector…

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Morse Code

December 25, 1988

Plug a computer chip into the connector.  LEDs slowly blink out morse code that spells a person’s name. The first of a series of electronic Mad Wrapper schemes showed up…

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Stretched perspective

December 25, 1988

Stretched perspective

Hidden in plain sight! Labels on gifts a completely distorted beyond recognition.  Significantly tilt the package to read the message. Once you know how to read the message you will…

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Jigsaw Names

December 25, 1987

Jigsaw Names

A homemade jigsaw puzzle is attached to each gift under the tree.  Put the puzzle together to find out who the gift is for.  All puzzles are identical but a…

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Mobius strip

December 25, 1982

Mobius strip

To/From message on gift tags is written on a mobius strip — a never-ending “one-sided” shape. Take a long thin sheet of paper about the size of a bookmark. Put…

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Origami Doughnut

December 25, 1981

Origami Doughnut

A present arrives topped with a 3 dimensional mechanical doughnut made from cardboard. It’s sort of a gear which continuously folds into itself. Open a flap and discover the words:…

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paper fortune

December 25, 1980

paper fortune

Messages “To/From” are written on grade-school folded-paper Fortune Teller. Directions on the sequence to follow are written on gifts. Nearly any grade school child, if asked, will gladly tell your…

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Balloon Pop

December 25, 1979

Balloon Pop

A balloon holds the gifts from view.  Pop the balloon and the gifts come tumbling out! Kind of silly but perfect as a Mad Wrapper attention-grabbing gag to give Linnea…

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Tinker Toy Sign

December 25, 1979

Tinker Toy Sign

Straddling a gift under the tree is a giant tinker-toy contraption.  At the top of the contraption sits the label “To Eric, From The Mad Wrapper”.  You can turn the…

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Lover Doll

December 25, 1974

Under the tree is a doll.  In the locket on a chain around the doll’s neck is a picture of Eric.  That’s it. Very subtle.  The doll “obviously” has proclaimed…

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To Eric From Mozart’s Movement

December 25, 1972

“To Eric From Mozart’s Movement” found its way on a card in 1972. A year of especially great potty humor (in the eyes of a highly impressionable early-teen). There were…

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To Don From Beethoven’s 10th

December 25, 1971

No known TMW occurrence was ever documented in the year 1971.  The Mad Wrapper possible took a vacation. But some other strange tags did appear.  Such as: “To Don From…

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To Mike From the Mad Wrapper

December 25, 1970

“To Mike From the Mad Wrapper” was written on a tag on a package Christmas in the year 1970. This seems to be the earliest known reference to The Mad…

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To Eric From Ms. Claus’s Husband’s wife

December 25, 1970

On Christmas of 1968, a tag showed up: “To Eric From Ms. Claus” – my mother’s handwriting is unmistakable. The following year a gift showed up under the tree: “To…

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To Eric From Ms. Claus’s Husband

December 25, 1969

On Christmas of 1968, a tag showed up: “To Eric From Ms. Claus” – my mother’s handwriting is unmistakable. The following year a gift showed up under the tree: “To…

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To Eric From Ms. Claus

December 25, 1968

On Christmas of 1968, a tag showed up: “To Eric From Ms. Claus” – my mother’s handwriting is unmistakable. The following year a gift showed up under the tree: “To…

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“To Linnea From Seven Toes”

December 25, 1963

The Mad Wrapper has roots that go back at least as far as 1963.  Probably farther back than this. “To Linnea From Seven Toes” was on a tag from Don…

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