Hide and don’t peek: 10 places to stash holiday presents

Thanks to the retail gods’ gift to mankind—Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday—you’ve finished shopping for friends and family nearly four weeks before Christmas.

Unfortunately, what follows is the frustrating task of hiding your thoughtful purchases from prying eyes. 

We've rounded up a few of our favorite sacred hiding spots generous Americans around the country swear by. And since the task of remembering where you’ve hidden gifts can be just as challenging, don't forget to take some serious mental notes. Or, draw a map-- in code of course.

1. Locked and Loaded

Women friends loading heavy luggages on the car to start a great road trip all over the country. One of is a caucasian young woman, the other one is a mixed race afro


“An X-Box, Uggs, iPads and even a basketball hoop. I’ve hidden every present there except the puppy,” boasts Mary Parra, a California mom of four. “There” is the Stowaway2 Parra and her husband purchased to tow behind their SUV when they travel. Parra figures if it can hold suitcases and sleeping bags, it can hold Christmas presents. She keeps it in the garage, where it stays year round, locked.

2. Have Panel, Will Hide

Rough-in for a commercial restroom in an office building.


Neena Nandagopal, the founder of AlmostPractical.com, a lifestyle blog with often-overlooked solutions to everyday problems she doesn't get too fancy when looking for a place to hide  holiday gifts.“My favorite spot for hiding small packages is in a closet, behind the panel for plumbing,” says Nandagopal. “No one ever looks there.” 

3. Cabinets with Unappealing Contents

Wooden shoe closet with drawer


“Kids and adults don’t like environments that smell unpleasant,” says Sandy Taylor, a makeup artist in Vancouver. She also plays the game of probability. Most shoe cabinets are musty and contain a dozen pairs of shoes, or more, so kids are less likely to invest the energy in a thorough investigation. Taylor also hides gifts in the same cabinet where she stores household cleaners. Her four-year-old knows it’s off-limits for safety reasons-- and her husband won’t go near it because he hates cleaning.

4. False Floor Drawer

Open door into the darkness.


When Becky Jackson and her husband moved into his childhood home in rural Montana, she didn’t know she’d be inheriting a secret hiding spot from her mother-in-law. But when Helen Jackson gave Becky the house tour, she paused in the kitchen and pulled out an innocent-looking bottom drawer, revealing a spacious false floor. Army Men, Yo-yo’s, Cabbage Patch Kids, Legos—if it was a popular toy in the past 50 years, it’s probably spent time here. Jackson looks forward to the day she can pass the torch to the next generation.

5. Hamper Bottoms and Laundry Baskets

Overflowing laundry basket. Household chore concept on white background


If anyone can predict where kids will peek, it’s a psychic. Melissa Mattern is a psychic to the psychics, and she’s also the mother of teenage daughters, and the wife of a curious husband. “I’m the only one who does the laundry,” says the Oregon resident. “So my secret hiding spot is the bottom of the clothes hamper. I also keep a laundry basket on top of the dryer where I hide presents under a pile of things no one would be interested in messing with.” 

Doubl duty? Mattern also admits to using these spots when she splurges on new shoes for herself or wants to savor the last box of Girl Scout cookies.

6. Feminine Hygiene-Related Anything

A full box of tampons and a calendar - studio shot


“If you want to ensure a man will not find your hiding spot, put your present in a box of feminine hygiene products,” says Bonnie Vent of Chula Vista, Calif. This trick works great for smaller items like monogrammed cuff links, but for bigger items, you’ll have to purchase your sanitary supplies in bulk. So stock up on the Playtex this time of year, because Vent has a point. “No man will go near a tampon box, ever!"

7. Seasonal Storage

A Picture of a file cabinet draw open


“No one is looking in the Halloween or Easter décor boxes in November and December,” insists Karen Hoxmeier. The Denver mom-preneur has been stashing gifts in seasonal storage for years. Among her most brag worthy hides are a laptop for her daughter, leather jacket for her husband and video games for her son. She’s also resorted to hiding stocking stuffers in boxes strategically labeled for tax season. (It helps if you can deposit a layer of dust on the lid.)

8. In Trunks

Antique wooden trunk isolated on white


Mike Catania doesn’t hide presents in his cavernous Las Vegas home. Instead, he stashes them just outside the house-- in his car trunk. Catania has hidden everything from iPads to paintings under a blanket and boxes of tools that no one wants to go near for fear of getting greasy. Sophie Knowles hides her gifts in a different type of trunk. The Londoner relies on an antique wooden trunk used for hallway seating year round. The family heirloom has been a piece of furniture for as long as anyone can remember, so no one thinks about the item as a piece of storage.

9. By the Front Door

Couples shoes at the front door of a house. There is a welcome mat in the foreground, with a modern home interior in the background. Marriage - home ownership concept


Zaida Khaze, a New Jersey mom, used to hide presents in the basement closet and her bedroom closet—probably the first places every kid who can crawl looks. These days, Khaze is a firm believer of “the more obvious, the better.” Like the large front door entryway closet where her kids hang their coats and backpacks, totally oblivious to the My Little Pony puzzles, Barbies and X-Box carefully tucked away in the back. “In fact, my daughter will take her stepper out of that closet so she can start snooping high up in my bedroom closet!”

10. On Layaway

Shopper filling out layaway tag at checkout counter


If you’re still concerned about curious kids or spouses, don’t hide your gifts at the house. Hide them at the store. Sara Skirboll, Shopping and Trends Expert at RetailMeNot suggests taking advantage of layaway programs offered by the likes of Toys R’ Us, Walmart and K-Mart. All you have to do is make a down payment to hold your item and then pick it up as late as Christmas Eve.

Katie Jackson is a travel writer. When she's not working, she's chasing after a Leonberger named Zeus.