Outwit. Outplay. Outlast.
It’s the motto of TV’s long-running “Survivor” reality competition, but it can also apply to an even longer running game of high stakes right at home: hiding everyone’s holiday gifts in places where they won’t be found before the big reveal. Think of it as your very own “Survivor: Hidden Gifts” edition, if you will, but without Jeff Probst.
There’s very little to stop a motivated kid (or spouse) fueled by curiosity. Mix this with the scavenger hunt-like challenge of finding a desired gift, and you’ve suddenly got a relentless holiday sleuth on your hands! But it’s all fun and games until said gifts are actually discovered. Then, it can be a hard way to learn that a big part of the holiday magic is simply the delicious anticipation of it all.
We know one parent who tells their children, reminiscent of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” that when a hidden gift is found, a Christmas angel loses its wings. Ouch! That may be a bit harsh but this stealth-level parent claims a 100% effectiveness rate with this approach.
This got us thinking. Where are the best places to hide holiday gifts from prying eyes? We’re in the storage business, after all. So, we polled some local parents about their holiday gift-hiding game and collected some great stories of pure parenting brilliance and blunders.
Read on for our top 10 ways to successfully stash those gifts to ensure, in true “Survivor” fashion, that you’re the last one standing over those still-wrapped gifts come Christmas morning. Because whether our curious kids realize it or not, when we win this epic battle of keeping the holiday magic alive for another year, everyone’s a winner.
Related: 200+ Unique Gifts for Kids
#10: Follow Tradition
First up pays homage to the tried-and-true trio: the closet, dresser, and car trunk. While these spots may not sound very creative, they can be an especially bold move if you’re able to pull it off. One parent we polled recalls: “Ours were often hidden in the trunk of a car that was seldom used.” Another says she hides some of her gifts in her dresser's underwear drawer because her parents did the same thing (hmm, we wonder how she knows?). We like this mom’s approach that blends tradition and technology: “I wrap them as soon as I buy them, then they go on the top shelf of my closet until we put the tree up. I keep a list in my phone so that I don't forget what I've bought. If I hide them, I will 100% forget about them!”
#9: Make It An Away Game
Sometimes it’s best to realize that a home-field advantage is really no advantage at all. Just look to our most recent World Series, where every home game was lost! Your winning strategy may be to hide those gifts outside of the house, like a trusted friend’s home. One savvy working mom we polled keeps them at her office until Christmas Eve. Another shares her away-game trick: “My mom is a snowbird so I kept my son’s presents at her house. I wrapped them ahead of time while he was in school before I brought them over. Then on Christmas Eve I picked them up and put them under our tree.”
#8: Hide Them Where Your Kids Won’t Want (or Think) To Look
Sometimes the best way to win is to just go with the natural flow of your family’s habits. You know all those places in your home you wish your family cared more about but just don’t? You’ve waited all year for this opportunity, so use those rarely accessed places to your advantage!
One parent shares, “I hide my gifts in the cleaning products closet. No one else in my household seems to ever want to lay hand on cleaning supplies but me. Ha!” Not to be outdone by this share: “I hide mine in the laundry room. Funny how none of my family members spend enough time there to notice any new boxes or bags!” And this is one of our favorites, but it leaves us wondering how often that dryer is getting used: “I hide my husband’s gifts in the dryer! My husband never found them!🤣🤣🤣”
#7: Create A Clever Disguise
If you’ve got relentless family members in hot gift-finding pursuit, sometimes you just have to bring out the big guns. To the parents who shared these gems of pure brilliance, we sit at your feet to learn. Teach us, great masters:
“For several years I had a big cardboard box with ‘Mom’s old bras’ written in Sharpie on the side. My kids never once looked inside!”
“We have black storage bins in the garage. They are labeled ‘pillow’ and ‘bedding’ but really they are full of toys and gifts!”
And our favorite: “My kiddo is three years old and doesn’t look for them yet. But the hubby sure does. They are up in the garage wrapped and in a box labeled ‘pre-pregnancy clothes.’”
Related: Best Christmas Gifts For Kids
Sometimes we miss the mark, no matter how hard we try. As the holiday carol goes, “‘Tis the season to be jolly…” So, if your holiday loot is, well, looted before gift-giving time (or you have to ransack the house to remember where you hid things!), just have another eggnog, see the humor in the moment, and chalk it up as a holiday memory:
Not Quite Clever Enough!
“I was the queen of finding my presents. My mom usually hid them in the cupboard above the closet in her bedroom or under her bed, but one year she had enough and decided to hide them in the garage. My dad is a mechanic and he had a car he was replacing the brakes on. Now, when you replace brakes, you need to bleed them and I was always the one who got to help. My mom had put the present in that car. I climbed into the driver's seat only to accidentally find my Christmas gift right next to me 😂! Thanks, Dad!”
“My four-year-old just discovered the massive Hot Wheels track I got for him that’s been hiding in our storage under the stairs. He went under there because he was chasing our kitten and then came upstairs to grab his flashlight to inspect the goods. So much for that spot!”
A Little Too Clever!
And in the better late than never category:
“Last year my mom hid some gifts in her storage ottoman and forgot about them. They were my gifts, so I was the only one in the room to not get any gifts for Christmas. It felt pretty bad. But, she found them by New Year’s!”
“I hide gifts in the hidden closet under the stairs! And if I don't put them there I forget about them! Just found a present that I didn’t hide there that was for my daughter's 7th birthday.....she is almost 9!!!”
When we inquired if anyone hid their gifts a little too well: “Oh, you mean like hiding the gifts in luggage that never gets used, in the back of the closet, and all you remember is that you put in a safe place... and finally find it two years later?” Yes, exactly like that, Susan.
Our advice? Create a password-protected file on your computer or phone to keep a reminder list of where you’ve hidden everything, and then name it something boring like ‘Tax Receipts’ in case your family also uses your devices. Problem solved!
#6: Hide In Plain Sight
The most seasoned secret agents will tell you that sometimes the best place to hide is right in plain sight. If something looks like it belongs there, where it can get lost in the shuffle and not stand out, then just go with it:
“My husband will 'hide' certain things in plain sight -- movies, books, gift cards. I've only discovered things a few times in the last 15 or so years!”
"I managed to hide a huge cooler for my husband one year -- sitting next to our bed and partially covered with a small blanket, no less! He just thought it was Amazon boxes!” 😆
#5: The "Finders, Losers!" Approach
Remember our story about the parent who mentioned the angels losing their wings when a snooping child finds their gift? These parents clearly attended the same advanced ‘take no prisoners’ gift-hiding course:
“I always told my kid not to go looking for them. If he found something, it would get returned and I would not buy anything to replace it.”
“I get free boxes from USPS, duct tape them closed, and keep them in my room. My kids know that if they peek, I take them back to the store.”
“I’ve always kept ours in plain sight in a giant Santa sack. And I take care to disguise them a little so a tempted peek won’t spoil surprises. I always told the kids if they ever saw anything that it would be given to someone else...that happened ONE time.” 😁
Related: Holiday Storage Hacks
#4: Right Under the Tree…with a Twist!
This is where the game of wits is raised to a new level. Mad props to these parents who apply a little brainpower to conserve their energy for more important things:
“I used to choose different wrapping paper per child. I never had to hide anything because only I knew whose presents were whose. Worked great!”
“I’m in my 40s now, but when I was a kid, my mother wrapped everything and just put it under the tree. But she NUMBERED all the gifts, so we had no idea who was getting which package until Christmas morning. So frustrating! Lol. But it worked!” (We see you and bow to you, clever ‘80s mom!)
#3: Keep Them In the Cart
We admit this tip is for those parents who don’t mind living a bit dangerously, and that is to just keep your kids’ gifts in your online cart until the last possible minute. (Amazon Prime, we’re looking at you. Don’t fail us now!)
Risky? Yes. Worth it? Possibly, especially if your child has earned their Grand Master Gift Finder status.
At the very least, you can follow this parent’s lead: “When online shopping, clear your internet history! And, make sure your kids can’t access your accounts. Don’t ask me how I know!”
#2: Put It In Storage
How could we not include this suggestion? Self-storage is handy all year long, but it can be especially useful during the holidays -- not only for hiding gifts but also to create space for holiday guests or make room for the Christmas tree and other decor if you live in a small home.
If you decide that a storage unit is the way to go, then look for great security features. Electronic gate access, 24-hour video cameras, and helpful site managers will put your mind at ease. Thankfully, Your Austin Storage offers all of these plus flexible month-to-month leases that come in handy this time of year.
We understand that anything you choose to store (any time of year) represents a monetary and emotional investment. A helpful hint to keep in mind is to store your holiday gifts in an environment similar to the one in which they will be used. In other words, if you are buying your spouse a lawnmower for Christmas, you won’t need a climate-controlled unit because it is kept in the garage. However, if you are buying a new computer, a climate-controlled unit is the way to go. And, even if you plan to store fragile gifts or gifts that are wrapped already, a climate-controlled storage space will prevent moisture from building up and destroying the paper or leaving an unpleasant odor.
#1: Sell Them on the Element of Surprise
Our final tip is one we’ve alluded to throughout this blog post. One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is to learn to truly appreciate life’s mysteries and wonders. Respecting the element of surprise can bring the most satisfying rewards. We understand this may be wishful thinking, in which case we direct you back to our previous suggestion of renting a storage unit!
“I've never had enough space to hide my kids’ gifts, so I wrap them right away. I don't think my kids peek, I told them it's way more fun to wait! They're 12 & 10 now, so maybe I should put their presents under a friend's tree now that they are home alone sometimes.”
Interested In A Self-Storage Unit This Holiday Season?
We’ve got a variety of self-storage unit sizes to choose from, so you’re sure to find one to fit your needs. With our flexible month-to-month options and great rates, there’s something for everyone. You can also purchase boxes and supplies at our on-site offices to make storing precious holiday items and gifts a breeze.
Your Austin Storage has three convenient locations in south, north, and northeast Austin. We offer access-controlled gates with closed-circuit video surveillance at each location. Call us today or contact us for more information.