Santa has his workshop where he can keep his gifts until the big day. But for smart Santas in the real world who start their holiday shopping early, we’re left with the question of where to hide the gifts so that our secrets aren’t inadvertently revealed.

SpareFoot recently conducted a survey that found 47 percent of parents said that their children search around for hidden presents before Christmas. That’s one way to make the naughty list!

So where do parents hide presents anyway? SpareFoot also asked parents to give up their best hiding spaces, and these are the most popular results:

  • 34.7 percent of parents hide presents in the closet
  • 18.1 percent in random spaces throughout the house
  • 12.5 percent  in the garage
  • 9.6 percent in the car
  • 9.2 percent under the bed
  • 8.8 percent at a friend of family member’s home
  • 3.5 percent in a self-storage unit
  • 3.5 percent in some other place

As it turns out, some of the most popular hiding spaces are probably where your sneaky kiddos will look first. We turned to some expert sources—not, not the elves, but pretty darn close—for some Santa-approved tips for cleverly hiding and storing your gifts detection free.

1. Use a Decoy Box.

As a mom of three boys who range in age from three to twelve, Gina Kirk, founder of Mom Life Must Haves, has a creative trick: hide toys in plastic bins or cardboard boxes that are labeled something the kids would have no interest in, such as “extra towels” or “placemats.” Then she can just stick them in any old closet or shelf in the garage, and no one even thinks to look.

2. Use Storage that’s Typically Used for Something Else.

Here are three tricky places that don’t involve much subterfuge on your part.

  • Luggage. If you’re not planning to travel, old suitcases can do the trick, suggests Chantay Bridges of Los Angeles.
  • Old purses. Unless you have a fashionista who loves to play dress up, your “out-of-season” handbags can be repurposed as hiding places.
  • File cabinets. Kids want nothing to do with the boring papers you keep in your home office. You can set the files on the bottom of the shelf rather than hanging them vertically to create room or relocate them to another spot temporarily.

3. Hide Them in Plain Sight.

That’s right; with some crafty wrapping tricks, you can leave the gifts out in the open, and they can guess all they want. (They’ll be wrong.)

  • A huge box for a tiny gift. This is a classic for a reason. We all know that good things come in little packages—but they’re not always much fun to open. But since these little gifts are typically on the spendy side (think electronics or jewelry), it can seem anticlimactic to tear paper off one box and be done.
  • A big gift in a small box. You can level up that trick by doing the opposite—using a tiny box for a huge gift. How? By printing a picture of the real gift (either one you take yourself or a photo online) and putting that in the box you wrap.
  • Wrap a present inside of another present. “My mom gave me some house-warming gifts one holiday, and she wrapped a new knife and scissors in dish towels that were also gifts to use in my apartment,” says Stacy Caprio of Chicago. “It made it extra fun to unwrap a present inside a present and saved on wrapping paper and environmental costs”

4. Take Them Offsite.

If you have kids (or a partner!) who loves the hunt, they are going to worry they’ve been bad boys or girls when they tear the house apart and find nothing. Surprise! A late-night visit to the storage space, and it will be like Santa really did come!

Allison+Partners Research + Insights surveyed 1,014 individuals 18 and older with children in the US. The survey was fielded using the Qualtrics Insight Platform, and panel was sourced from Fulcrum by Lucid. Fielding was executed in July 2018. 

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Cathie Ericson