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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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?