Where Should I Keep Gifts I’m Waiting to Give?

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Giving gifts feels wonderful. It provides a tangible way for us to express love, gratitude, and simple thoughtfulness to the people in our lives. With the holidays around the corner, now is a time when many of us are shopping for and gathering gifts to give in the upcoming month. It can be fun to find that “perfect gift,” and to anticipate someone’s reaction when he/she opens it.

The flip side of holiday gift giving is the question, “Where should I keep, and potentially hide, the items I buy before it is time to give them as gifts?” This can be tricky and stressful, especially in these times when family members are perpetually in the house. The challenges are twofold:

  • Where can I put the objects to keep them out of the way and safe until I can deliver them?
  • Where can I stash gifts so that they won’t be discovered by “curious eyes” in my household?

Let’s take these one at a time.

First, let’s talk about gifts that don’t need to be hidden. These include gifts that you will be giving to service providers, distant relatives, friends, and anyone else who doesn’t come into your home. The best approach here is to establish a couple of zones for “like” gifts.

Financial Gifts:

Label monetary gifts and gift cards with a Post-it note with the name of the recipient. Put these into a large envelope (one with a clasp is perfect) and label the envelope “Holiday Monetary Gifts.” This envelope can live in a file sorter, in a hanging file, on a bookshelf, or in a shallow drawer (as long as it isn’t covering up items underneath).

3-Dimensional Gifts:

Designate a zone in your home where you will put all gifts that are waiting to be dropped off or shipped. These can be wrapped or unwrapped. When you wrap, be sure to add a label so you remember the gift’s recipient. Since these items are being given to people outside of your home, they don’t need to be hidden. Good candidates for this zone include the corner of a bedroom, dining room, or office. They can rest on a chair, be put into a large basket, or sit on the floor, as long as the location is clean and dry.

Now let’s talk about gifts that will be given to people who live in your home, and hence need to be hidden. This process can be tricky. We want to keep these gifts out of sight, but also don’t want to lose track of our purchases. How many of us have stashed an item in a drawer and completely forgotten about it?

The first important step is to have an inventory of what gifts you have purchased for whom. This can be a simple spreadsheet, a piece of paper, or an app like The Christmas List. When you bring a gift into your space, enter it into your inventory before you hide it away. Note in your list where the item has been hidden.

The second step is to put the item in a hiding place. There are many possible options. The key is to avoid any spaces that your children have either looked before or would be likely to inspect. You may find it easier to establish a few locations by gift recipient, such as a different spot for each child and one for your spouse. Or, you could store gifts by type, such as items for the stockings vs. larger gifts to be placed under the tree. Lastly, pick spots that you can easily access. Don’t select a location that is so remote that getting to it is cumbersome.

Admittedly, not everyone has family members who go hunting for gifts, but even if your gift recipients won’t actively nose around, you still don’t want them accidentally stumbling upon a special surprise.

Bear in mind that regardless of the hiding spot(s) you choose, it is a good idea to disguise the gifts before you put them away. The most obvious way to do this is by wrapping them, but often we lack the time to lack gifts at the moment we bring them in. Other ways to disguise gifts is by covering them with other objects (such as a sheet), putting them into opaque bags (such as a black trash bag), or putting them into a container labeled as something else (such as a box for an appliance or food).

Now to fun part. Where can I hide gifts in my home? Here are some ideas.

Possible Gift Hiding Spots

Master Bathroom

Kids rarely dig around in the master bathroom. Clear out a drawer or shelf in the linen the closet. Of course, if you are rocking the “family bathroom” vibe, this isn’t a good choice.

Under the Bed

This is a nice large space, in a room where children often spend unsupervised time. The risk here is that it a classic spot, so children might try to sneak a peek. If this is your option, remember to disguise the gifts in another container first.

Under Heavy Objects

Gift hide-and-seek tends to be something we do quickly, when we think we can sneak into a room and get out rapidly before anyone notices. Therefore, hiding boxes in a bin that is underneath other bins or something heavy can be effective. For instance, a large plastic tub onto which you place a box of heavy tools.

Inside a Cooler(s)

This time of year, and especially during the pandemic, coolers are not being heavily used. They offer a safe and weather-tight option for gifts and can be left in a garage or basement without attracting attention. Again, for extra security, consider putting something heavy on top, or sliding the cooler under a low shelf from which it takes a bit of effort to pull items out.

In A Suit Bag Hanging in a Closet

Many people have a zip-front garment bag that came with a suit or dress purchase. They are often blue or black, and they can be a nice option for gifts of clothing, scarves, linens, coats, etc. Place items on hangers inside and slide it into a less-accessible part of your closet.

Under Skirted Furniture

In addition to beds, many people have sofas or armchairs that are skirted. Few people look under chairs, so take advantage of this and tuck a bin or bag underneath.

Inside a Hope Chest

Many people have a trunk or cedar chest for storing blankets and other linens. Remove the majority of the contents and temporarily store them in plastic bins or bags, and then use this space for hiding gifts. To disguise items, keep out one blanket or quilt that stays on top of the objects, just in case someone peeps inside.

In a Mislabeled Bin

Labels work well because they tell us what is inside a container. We can harness the power of a label to misinform people. Something as simple as a stack of cardboard boxes (such as banker boxes can be stuck in the corner of an office and labeled “Taxes, 2018… 2019… 2020”). Children are unlikely to dig inside. Opaque plastic tubs can serve the same function, mislabeled as something like “Halloween Decorations” or “Clothes for Donation.”

In the Attic

If you have a convenient attic, this can be an effective place to hide gifts. Small children are unlikely to climb into the attic alone. Again, remember to disguise gifts, and to put them into containers that will keep them clean and dry.

Inside Luggage

Suitcases are large objects that are designed to hold things. They make the perfect hiding spot. If you have extra suitcases, or if you won’t be traveling this year, use them to hide gifts. You can designate one suitcase per gift recipient.

At Someone Else’s House

If you are lucky enough to have family or close friends nearby, they might be willing to let you keep a bag or two of gifts in their space. With the pandemic in full swing, this might be difficult, but if not this year, tuck this idea away for next year. A grandparent’s home is a wonderful option.

Up High

Since children are the most likely family members to snoop around looking for gifts, putting items up high can be a nice option. Place bins or baskets on an upper shelf in a closet into which you can deposit gifts. Surprisingly, an upper shelf in a child’s own closet can be quite effective, as even teens rarely think to look there. This approach has the double benefit of making it easy to remember what you purchased for whom.

In a Storage Unit

I almost don’t want to suggest this because renting a storage unit should be done with caution. (You can read more about using storage units here. However, if you already have a storage unit, and if there is extra capacity, this can be a nice temporary option. Set up a couple of bins specifically for holiday gifts and place them near the door to your unit. You may find it works well to stop by and drop gifts inside on your way home from the store, or swing by after a big delivery to your home.

***

Taking a little time to organize and conceal your “gifts to give” helps you and your loved ones enjoy the holiday season.

Where are your best hiding spots?

26 thoughts on “Where Should I Keep Gifts I’m Waiting to Give?”

  1. I love your suggestions on where to hide gifts from family that lives with you. I am going to have to refer back to this article now as I do begin shopping. So, thanks so much for the awesome advice 🙂

  2. I never considered the lengths one can go to hide gifts. I do some hiding, but it’s not that elaborate. I have one spot for gifts I might give or have collected throughout the year. But for gifts that I’m hiding from household members, I have one hiding spot in my bedroom, which will remain a secret. 🙂 I’ve never had an enormous stash of gifts to hide, so personally, this is a non-issue. But I can see how finding some great hiding spots makes sense for people with many gifts to store. I’ve worked with clients that have extensive gift-giving collections that I helped to inventory. But those didn’t require hiding spots, only places to keep them.

    1. I have some clients with VERY curious little ones who are willing to go to great lengths to see what fun things might be coming their way. I think this is largely a “season of life challenge.” Having an inventory of your gifts, whether you are hiding them or not, is very practical and helpful, though, hence I’m sure you’ve added great value to those clients for whom gift giving is a major endeavor:)

  3. This topic is a hot one as we know! I am having these same conversations in homes while gifts are coming in. Since it is a month of sales, many people are purchasing now.

    Here is where we are finding spaces.
    ~ wine cellar
    ~ guest closet
    ~ under the sink in the guest bathroom

    I love your list!

  4. Those are some great hiding spots, Seana! How about the trunk of your car? One risk, of course, is getting your car broken into, but, well, your house could be burglarized too. I probably wouldn’t keep anything too valuable, or temperature-sensitive, in the trunk of my car, and not everyone has a trunk whose contents can be hidden from prying eyes. And it wouldn’t work if you use your trunk all the time for things that are incompatible with hiding gifts. And it wouldn’t work for sneaky kids (or others) with access to your car keys. But all hiding spots have pros and cons.
    Hazel Thornton recently posted…Comment on An Organized COVID Holiday Season – When Less is More by Hazel ThorntonMy Profile

    1. I used to have trunk of the car on my list, but in my community, we have had quite the rash of car burglaries, so I decided to eliminate this one from my list. If you are in a safe area, I think the trunk of the car can be ideal!!

  5. Love these ideas, Seana. I don’t have any prying eyes in my home right now. When my children were small, I used to hide things up high. When that spot was not longer practical I hid gifts in the storage room – behind some bigger things and in a dark corner. That worked well for me. I can only imagine the challenge people are facing trying to hide gifts when everyone is living at home.

    1. I love that idea of taking advantage of the “scare factor” by hiding gifts in dark places. Behind large things is also a brilliant thought. I don’t have this challenge myself either, but many clients at this moment do. A lot are shopping early in case another lockdown ensues.

  6. This is a great post, Seana! Thanks for sharing! I love the idea of using inside the coolers to store gifts.

    I have an area in my office closet high on top of a filing cabinet. The kids very rarely go to my office closet. I do have a checklist that I use for buying stuff for people. I reuse it every year. Shh, do not tell my kids. LOL

  7. Fun!!! This is such a cute piece and who couldn’t use a new hiding place? I liked your ideas, especially in a cooler (ha!) in a mislabeled bin, in a suitcase or hanging suit bag. Clever!
    My go-to special hiding places include inside one of my shoeboxes, or a boot, in the back of my pots and pans cabinet, (no one goes there) or even behind a stack of nicely folded sheets. It would be easy to spot if someone was nosing around.
    Ronni Eisenberg recently posted…How to Get a Sparkling Clean Bathroom the Easy WayMy Profile

  8. This is so great – luggage is always my first go-to, but lately I’ve also started putting gifts in recycling bins in the garage (clean ones, of course!). Love the cooler idea, too!

    1. Oooh, recycling bin is a good addition. Just as long as an overzealous spouse doesn’t put it out for collection LOL! If you have an extra large bin, that would hold a lot!

  9. It’s been a long time since i purchased a tangible gift that I had to wrap and keep in my own space, but these are all fabulous ideas. My favorite: luggage. Kids have no reason to go look inside old suitcases, and there’s no chance some “helpful” person will declutter a ratty cardboard box actually filled with holiday gifts.

    And of course, people need to keep a cheat sheet so they remember where they’ve hidden the gifts. 😉

    All brilliant advice, Seana!
    Julie Bestry recently posted…Organize Your Health: Parental Wisdom, Innovation, and the New Time Timer® WashMy Profile

  10. This is fun! Sometimes kids are much more shrewd than we give them credit for, and I only say that because I was as a kid! My kids are both still small (in height) so I put things up in my closet. In fact, I can’t even reach up there! I can stuff things up there but need a chair to get them down. Or a Cassidy.

  11. You are a master hider, Seana! I love all the clever places you suggested. I tend to hide gifts out in the open, usually in some spot in my office. They look like normal, everyday things until they are wrapped. And, admittedly, sometimes they look like clutter. I purposely keep them that way. Though there are times that the appearance of clutter makes it hard for *me* see them all the time. LOL

    And you’re right — giving feels amazing for everyone involved.
    Deb Lee recently posted…Remote Work: 6 Ways to Manage Stress While You Work From HomeMy Profile

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