Keep 'em believin' series Part II

If you haven’t started already, we parents and guardians will soon be on the hunt for our children’s Christmas presents.

When we find that perfect present, the real game for parents begins: where to hide it?

This is especially difficult if these are presents from Santa. When I was young, my brother told me one year that he had found all of our “Santa” presents in my parent’s closet. I was devastated. I chose to believe he was making it up. But it was the first time I questioned the magic.

As a parent, my husband and I thought we had the perfect hiding place. We had a hidden door in our laundry area that opened into a crawl space under our kitchen’s bay window. We referred to it as the Batcave. We thought we were so clever.

But nothing says “open me” to a child more than a hidden door. So little did we know, we were on borrowed time. When my middle child first noticed the door, curiosity got the best of him. He wiggled open the latch and peered inside…

He tells me he didn’t see too many gifts. The evidence that caught his eye was “Santa’s” wrapping paper.

He was too scared to tell us. The rule in our family is once you stop believing in Santa Claus, Santa will stop visiting. It was a rule I grew up with, and to this day I get Santa presents at my parent’s home. But he had to tell someone. So he made a fatal error:  he told his big sister.

Naturally she ran to tell me. I was crushed. Now my older kids were 10 & 12. So I knew their belief was probably being tested already. But their little brother was 7. I couldn't let the magic die for him while he was so young.

And even if my older kids didn’t believe in Santa as a person, I wanted them to still feel the excitement that comes with Santa. Which meant surprises on Christmas morning.

I told them that Santa could only carry so much in his sleigh. So to lighten the load, he and his elves dropped off some gifts early. And that her dad and I helped wrap some of them to be helpful.

She looked pensive. But luckily she decided to amuse me. And more importantly she didn’t want to ruin things for her brother. I told her that would really help elevate her status on the nice list.

But whether the older kids believed me or not, we had to find a new hiding place for the gifts because I knew they would keep looking. Curiosity would get the best of them. This, unfortunately, is a trait they inherited from me!

At first I panicked and hid them in every nook and cranny I could find. Which made for quite the scavenger hunt on Christmas Eve. For me. It was not jolly.

My husband started hiding them in our van. We have under seat storage that worked well. But it would fill up quickly.

So I took to Facebook to get advice from other parents. They had some great ideas!

A few of my friends said they would hide the presents in their Christmas tree storage box or the Christmas decoration boxes. One friend used empty coolers in her basement, and another used empty suitcases. I think this is brilliant. I don’t think it would cross many kids’ minds to look inside of those items since they are earmarked for other uses.

A lot of parents just store them outside of their homes. A few people are able to keep them at their office or at a relative’s house. The benefit of this plan is: 1. The kids can snoop as much as they want. And they won’t find anything, and 2. In this day and age when we are ordering more gifts than ever before, we can just ship them to these locations. This eliminates the kids seeing an Amazon box on the porch and saying, “What’s that?” In my house I squirrel those packages away as fast as they can. But children do NOT forget mystery packages.


Many people stated that both they, and their parents before them, hid presents in their closet. My older kids inform me that this is the first place any kid would look. But my friend Kristal has upped the closet game. She has a walk-in closet with a key to keep snoopers out. So not only does she hide presents in there, she hides snacks and a bean bag chair where she goes for mommy breaks! I think I’m hiding my gifts there this year!

But what happens when your kids do uncover something? Turns out most parents will tell them the gift is for someone else, or it becomes a gift from mom and dad.

My friend Vikki tells me that when her kids found their gifts she took them all back to the store. Tough love, for sure. But it worked. They never snooped again.

One of my favorite stories comes from my friend Malen. Her mother convinced her that family presents were placed in “present traps”. They were like mouse traps that would snap her if she found them. She said that kept her from snooping until she was much older.

So this is a call to all parents and guardians playing Santa this year: come up with a plan now to keep the surprises alive.

Happy hiding!


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