Keeping Surprise Gift Ideas Secret:
How to Manage Snooping Kids

Surprise gift ideas provide extra magic
for giver and receiver, but snooping kids can spoil secrets.
Here’s an approach that works.

Surprise gift ideas: What's in the Box?Many households play a protracted cat-and-mouse game, trying to wheedle gift secrets out of each other or find out "what’s in the bag?" Many kids (and some adults too!) can’t seem to stop themselves from turning the closets upside down looking for Christmas presents.

Some folks don’t mind revealing secrets ahead of time, but others prefer to prolong the excitement of anticipation. Our family finds that keeping our gifts surrounded with an air of mystery is a lot more fun for everyone.

I learned the hard way one year, as a child, when I snooped in my mom’s closet just before Christmas. To my delight, I uncovered a beautiful dog figurine – just what I wanted! Imagine my dismay when the dog appeared under the Christmas tree with my sister’s name on it!. Worst of all, I couldn’t even complain!

Later on, this experience informed my approach to handling surprise gifts for my children. I told them about my snooping fiasco when each was very young. I made no secret at Christmas time of the bags full of presents in my closet and admitted I couldn’t guard them all the time.

They had to decide whether to snoop now or to have a surprise later.

Surprise gift idea: shopper with full bagsWhen one of the kids asked what was in a bag, I’d respond, “It’s exciting, isn’t it, but do you really want me to tell you? After all, revealing surprises makes the HOLIDAY special. Which day do you want to be special – today or Christmas (or your birthday, or whatever)? Why don’t you think about it for awhile?”

…and that would almost always be the end of it.

Snooping can be headed off quite effectively by putting the shoe on the other foot. Take your children (individually) for some early holiday shopping, so they will have their own secrets to keep. Have them swear you to secrecy. This helps in two ways.

1) Children will realize immediately how disappointed they will feel if their own surprise gift ideas are revealed too soon.

2) Curiosity is less likely to get the best of kids if they have a secret they can share with someone.

Since you two are in cahoots, much of the pre-holiday excitement will be channeled into giggling with you about the secret and how surprised the others will be.

Surprise gift ideas: Christmas giftsOver the years, I found little evidence of my children snooping (Diane admits to doing it once but hating how it diminished her birthday). Instead, their snoopiness was converted into giggles, knowing glances, and a general air of mystery. Sure, it stirred up a lot of curiosity, but the curious ones had surprise gift ideas of their own to gloat about.

The degree of anticipation at our house before birthdays and Christmas, and the delighted faces when presents are finally opened, testify to the magic – for both giver and receiver – of keeping surprise gift ideas a secret.

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