There is a scene in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation that has never sat well with me (yes, just the one). Clark Griswold sneaks up to the attic to hide a bag full of Christmas presents, only to discover an old, dust-covered Mother’s Day gift dated 1983 hidden in the very same spot. (Given that the movie was released in 1989, that doesn’t make the forgotten gift quite as old as it sounds today.) The implication is that Clark had hidden it away and then forgotten it, but that is a stretch. How does one apparently forget where one hid a gift just days or weeks before such an important occasion as Mother’s Day, yet attempts to use the very same gift-hiding nook several years later? It’s not a coincidence — he goes straight for the spot!
Regardless, if you’re anything like Clark (and aren’t we all at least a tiny bit like Clark?), you, too, are in the thick of gift-purchasing — and gift-hiding — season. But as you tip-toe through your own home, don’t be tempted by the easiest, and thus most obvious, hiding spots. Your partner knows what all those bags stashed in the back of the closet are, and your kids are going to peek under your bed the second you take your eyes off of them. Let this year be the year you baffle them all by hiding their gifts in places they’d never even think to suspect.
Holiday storage bins
Even if your basement or attic has not an inch of storage space to spare, there should be at least a couple of available bins lying around — assuming you mustered up the energy to decorate your home for the holidays this year. Nobody thinks to rummage through the holiday storage bins for anything once the decorations are out and on display, so fill ‘em with gifts.
The Christmas tree box
Likewise, if you happen to have a fake Christmas tree box that isn’t all torn apart on one side due to years of trying to get the stupid tree back into a goddam box that was clearly never large enough to fit it, what the hell?, then you’ve got another perfect stash-away spot to complement your storage bin trick. This would never work for me, personally, given the state of my Christmas tree box, but I hope it is an option for you.
Empty shipping boxes (or mislabeled storage bins)
This idea, from HGTV, is most welcome. If you didn’t muster up the energy to decorate for the holidays this year, and thus your red and green bins are still full to the brim, you’ve got other options — hide your gifts in (nearly) plain sight. Maggie Miller writes, “Wrap them in cloth or plastic bags and place behind other items in the storage bin. Spouses will never suspect their secret surprise is right in front of them.” Ditto with all those Amazon boxes that have been piling up in the corner of your basement for several years — nobody is paying any attention to them, because they are all empty. Or are they?
Assuming you don’t actually need said suitcases for holiday travel, this is another spot that is easy for a gift-snooper to overlook — particularly if they’re tucked away in a rarely traversed part of the home, such as a basement, attic, or garage.
Another gem from HGTV, and similar to the more commonly advised suitcases, those coolers you use but a few times a year can double as gift-hiders during the holiday months. Stash away the gifts in a cooler, stack another storage box on top of it, and your family will be none-the-wiser.
The spare tire well of your trunk
I’m not a huge fan of hiding the gifts in the open part of the trunk — mostly because I drive an SUV in which you can see into the trunk from the back seat, rendering it a terrible hiding place. But even if my trunk was enclosed, I’d be worried that I’d slip up one day, forget about the gifts, and open the trunk directly in front of my child. The spare tire well, though? Nobody’s going looking in there, especially if you’ve got plenty of other random items — reusable bags, blankets, jumper cables, and the like — junking up the space.
Under your kid’s bed
I admit this one feels a little risky, but I also think it’s kind of genius. When is the last time your child even attempted to make sense of the abyss under their bed? Exactly. When concealed properly, this may be the best hiding spot of all. This is particularly good if you store their out-of-season clothing in bins under their bed — no child, tween, or teen is going rooting through last summer’s shorts and bathing suits in search of presents. You know your child best, though, so proceed with caution on this one.
The creepiest spot in your home
Do you know where my son would never find a gift? In the dark, narrow tool closet in my creepy-arse, built-in-1925 basement, that’s where. You have to step down into it, people. Sure, you may not have a spooky, nearly 100-year-old nook that served God-knows-what original purpose, but you probably have an equivalent area: an attic crawl space, a cluttered shed, the corner of the basement where the most house centipedes live (I kid). Wherever the others in your home have no desire to venture, is the perfect place to seal and store away their presents.
Someone else’s house
You know who doesn’t care what your spouse is getting for Christmas? The neighbour’s teenage kids, that’s who. Do a little gift-stash-swap to hide your presents away in another home entirely — be it that of a friend, neighbour, or relative — and hide theirs in your home. Be up front with everyone that they can go snooping if they want, but they’re only going to discover what Uncle Dave bought for Aunt Jeni.