How to Send a Holiday Gift Without Spoiling the Surprise

How to Send a Holiday Gift Without Spoiling the Surprise
Photo: Kristen Prahl, Shutterstock

Packages in my household are opened the second they arrive, so keeping the holiday gifts separate from standard packages this holiday is essential. Half the fun of Christmas is opening presents on Christmas morning, and you don’t want someone opening the brand new tablet you got them thinking it’s the deodorant they ordered. No fear, you can take back control with this tiny hack to help your giftees open the right packages on Christmas day.

Order the item as a gift

It sounds like an obvious answer, but it bears saying: Once you’ve selected your online item, go to your shopping cart and look for an option to choose “This is a gift.” A form should pop up, allowing you to indicate who the gift is for and include a message. The gift receipt (and note) will signify to the receiver that this is indeed a gift, so they can avoid their surprise being ruined. (And they can keep the gift receipt that hides the price you paid and allows them to make returns.)

Write your message in the address line

To combat lost gift receipts and savour the Christmas surprise, include “gift for…” in the address line. This is an additional precaution for your holiday packages, you should still select “this is a gift” before check out. When the gift arrives, “gift for…” will be printed on the shipping label outside the box so the recipient can easily recognise the package as a gift and throw it under the tree to save for Christmas day. Mix it up with “from Santa” or some other fun character in the address line, and not just for kids — a present from Santa would make my day as a grown adult, and it’s a nice touch of holiday cheer.

Make sure your gift is mailable

Depending on the merchant and location, some items cannot be sent as gifts — pay attention if you’re shipping internationally through something like Amazon Global Store. As Amazon notes, “These options are not available for Amazon Global Store. If these options aren’t available for other items, you’ll see a note that says ‘We’re sorry. This item can’t be gift-wrapped or sent with a note’.” This also applies to their gift wrap option.

Some items cannot be wrapped due to their size or shape, so keep this in mind if you want to go the gift-wrapped route. If you’re talking with a smaller mum-and-pop business, ask for their options for mail-safe packaging and labelling — many of them go the extra mile as one of the many benefits of shopping small.

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