I've always found that my attempts to hide anything seasonal come unstuck. Every year when we have our big Easter Egg Treasure Hunt the kids take one look at the elaborate trail of clues that I have spent all night devising and casually say, "The eggs are in the boot of dad's car again aren't they Mum!" before they have even read the very first cryptic question. And I have to admit that yes they are! Yet again I have chosen the only hiding place big enough and clean enough. I am too predictable and the kids know me too well. Plus the boot has its limitations as a safe spot for presents, given that Ian commutes 60 miles to Birmingham every day. I cringe at the prospect of a fragile gift hurtling up and down the M6 in the back of Ian's car (or is crawling down the M6 possibly more apt?) Either way, it's not the best long term solution to the issue of present hiding!
When they know there is something hidden away, kids take on the characteristics of a Bloodhound. The children will sniff out anything deemed contraband if I try to hide it away. I hide food that I buy to avoid temptation and premature consumption! My secret stash of chocolates is always uncovered in the run up to Christmas. Only yesterday Freddy thought he'd hit the jackpot when he found my secret selection box pile in the garage. The Buy One Get Two Free offer in my local supermarket has resulted in quite a few chocolatey purchases, but at this rate they will have all been consumed by my eagle eyed present hunters with their sixth sense for confectionery locating, long before I get to wrap them up and put them in their stockings.
Hiding presents, also makes them so very tantalising. The very fact that something is hidden makes you want to hunt it down. It's a challenge! But once found, the thing you were secretly trying to locate loses its magic and becomes nothing but a disappointment as you attempt to feign surprise when it is given to you on Christmas Day. It really does ruin the gifting element of Christmas, thinking that your well thought out present idea does not get the excited, surprised and delighted response you were hoping for.
So what is the solution? Well, for me I now hide their presents in plain sight. It's simple. I put the carrier bags of purchases on the floor in my bedroom and they sit there by my bed until I get round to wrapping them. Because they aren't hidden away, they aren't interesting at all. They are just a heap of Primark, Body Shop, Tesco, Boots and Smiths bags, and a pile of plain brown Amazon, Ratuken's Play or Zavvi boxes. The blatant positioning and disregard for secrecy renders my present pile disinteresting and not worth looking at. Honestly it's genius! The moment I try to disguise it or cover up the pile, it suddenly becomes a thing of intrigue filled with surprises and mysteries. But when simply left unattended on the floor it becomes totally invisible to the curious eyes of a child. Not one bag has been rummaged through to date!
When it comes to the issue of Santa, my children know that he is a busy man. He needs the help of mums and dads across the world to buy and wrap their children's presents. On Christmas Eve the gifts are magically whisked away to the North Pole where Santa adds a hefty dose of Christmas Magic to each and every parcel, before delivering them back to our homes by means of reindeer and sleigh. So the fact that there is obvious evidence of Christmas shopping does not detract from the essence of Santa being the deliverer of the pile of presents under the tree, whilst full 'picking out and purchasing' credit falls firmly into the lap of husband and I!
So, I think I've got it all sorted this year. As long as the kids don't suddenly become interested in my dull, old, messy pile of boring-ness, I can rest assured that they will be in for some lovely surprises on Christmas Day!
This post is an entry into the Hudl Christmas cheer competition.