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Christmas with Kids: Sneaky Gift-Wrapping Strategies

I remember the first Christmas I realized gift sacks would no longer be an option unless they were placed under the tree five minutes before opening. It was one of those “first child” moments…you know…all the things your first child teaches you along the way. One of those “life is getting more complicated” moments.

Although I started wrapping all the Christmas gifts in boxes, the children still spent hours under the tree shaking and weighing each gift until they figured out what was inside.

Here are a few tricks I learned through the years to help solve this “present dilemma” and make gift giving more enjoyable for parents and children (because what child really wants to spoil his surprise?).

My favorite tip:

Wrap the gifts and put them under the tree, but use code names on the labels to identify recipients.

Come up with a new hard-to-crack code each year.


  • The initials of your child’s homeroom teacher.
  • The initials of their future spouse…if you were picking today!
  • A made-up name that starts with the third letter of your child’s middle name.
  • A word that rhymes with the first syllable of your child’s first name.
  • The initials of your child’s best friend’s mom.

Do you get the picture? It can be as crazy as you want it to be, as long as you can remember the code when Christmas comes.

Make sure the code is not cracked by giving it away on a gift they already know they are getting. For example, this year everyone in our family knows Dillon is getting a new tennis racquet. We were all here when the UPS truck arrived with the box. When I wrapped it, I put his name on it instead of his code.

It seems each Christmas there is a gift that is a challenge to wrap -- a pogo stick, bicycle or unicycle. In our family those gifts usually inspire scavenger hunts. Short poems send the kids from place to place until they find the gift.

More tips:

  • Remember to exit out of all the windows on your computer when you are not sitting at it. Often online orders will send “just shipped” emails, and it might be received when your child is at your computer.
  • Ask permission to have an online purchase delivered to a relative’s or a neighbor’s house if you have children who might be home by themselves when the gift arrives.
  • When hiding gifts before wrapping, jot a note to yourself in an inconspicuous place to remind you of their location.
  • Wrap small items in bigger boxes with extra things added to the box for weight.
  • Giving cash? Buy an old book from a thrift store and use a box cutter to create space inside where cash can be stashed. Or get your cash in one dollar bills and place them between the pages throughout a book.
  • Problems with creative peeking? If the box you are wrapping reveals what is inside, wrap a first layer in brown packing paper and then cover it with Christmas wrap.

Merry Christmas and happy gift giving, Moms!

Holiday Greetings from the Stulls

Chris & Brenna, Dillon (19), Derek (18), Caleb (15), Micah (13), and Karis Joy (11)

Stay Warm this Winter

Those hand warmers used for snow skiing and hunting can be used at other times, too, so keep them on-hand at home. On days that you can’t seem to cut the chill, throw a couple inside your boots or house slippers and see if you don’t get more done around the house. Keep them in your coat pockets when you have to be outside for kids’ sports activities.

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