How I Outsmarted the Smarty Pants!

Hi everyone!

It’s Mommy Monday!

OMGoodness!!!  HOW is this already the end of November?!?

In just a few short weeks, Christmas will be here… and I haven’t bought a SINGLE present yet!

Christmas has been my favorite time of year since I was a small child.  It was the one thing that I remember getting really excited about year after year.  Maybe that’s why it has always been so important for me to try so hard to make it just as exciting for my own kids.

Even though the cost of raising five kids never left a lot of “disposable income” throughout the year, somehow we always managed to make sure they all some pretty meaningful gifts under the tree.  I guess that made me feel a little better about not being able to “indulge” them a little more throughout the year.

I used to love picking out gifts for each one of my kids.  I would spend all year just “listening” and “watching” so that I would know exactly what they were interested in.  Then I would scour the sales papers and see where I could get the best deals.  I still remember leaving my house in the wee hours of the morning just so I could stake my place in the line that was already snaked around the outside of the building… in freezing cold temperatures… waiting for the store to open its doors on Black Friday… just so I could snatch up those deals!

Of course that was waaaaaaay before the Thanksgiving Day sales and the 24-hour stores!

Seeing the surprised look and squeals of excitement from the kids as they opened their gifts on Christmas morning made it ALL WORTH IT!

As the kids got a little older, I began to  notice that the surprised looks on Charlie and Ryan’s faces had sort of faded… and the squeals of excitement were more “reserved”.

I didn’t get it.

I KNEW  I had gotten them what they were hoping for, and they SEEMED to be happy that they got it… so, why didn’t they LOOK like they were… or even SOUND like it?!?

It all started to make sense the following year as I was putting their gifts under the tree.

As I laid the gifts out, I noticed that each one that was marked for Charlie or Ryan had an itsy bitsy tear in it.  It was strategically placed and just enough that “someone” could identify what was wrapped underneath all that colorful paper!



I was so determined not to let THAT happen again that I spent months trying to think of a way to keep things “under wrap”… so to speak.

One day while I was at work, I mentioned my “dilemma” to a couple of co-workers.  One of them shared that they knew of someone who had written the names of reindeer on the gift tags instead of the names of their kids.

PERFECT!  Since I had already figured out that it was only the two older boys who were snooping, they wouldn’t know which gifts to look at if none of them had their real names, right?!?

It sounded like a plan to me… so I decided to give it a try.

I took a piece of paper, wrote down five reindeer names, and then randomly wrote one of the kids’ names next to it.  Once I wrapped the gift, I referred to my list and wrote the reindeer name on the tag.  Then, into the box it went, back into the “hiding” place in the basement, and no one would be the wiser (except ME, of course!)  😉

Over the next few weeks, I checked my not-so-very “hiding place” often… just to see if any of the gifts had been tampered with.  I could tell that some of the packages had been re-arranged, but… WHEW!  No rips in the paper!


It looked like I finally figured out a way to see those surprised faces on Christmas morning once again!

That is until….

I was setting all the presents under the tree on Christmas Eve and I suddenly realized that I had somehow managed to “misplace” my list!  You know… the one that told me WHICH kid was WHICH reindeer?!?

THIS was going to be BAD!

All I could envision were the looks of…. TOTAL CONFUSION!

I was pretty sure the boys wouldn’t want to open gifts of make-up or porcelain dolls… the girls wouldn’t want to open Little Tykes and Fisher Price toys… and the baby certainly wouldn’t know what to do with art supplies or tie-dyed what-nots.


For the next two hours I was in panic mode throughout the entire middle of the night search and recover mission.  I did eventually find my list… still in the same “safe” place that I had hidden it, but I vowed that I would never do THAT again.

I did manage to get some surprised looks and squeals that Christmas morning, but I also caught a couple nasty looks thrown my way from my husband as he was trying to hand out the gifts AND figure out which kid was Donner and which one was Blitzen!

Okayyyyyyyyyy… back to the drawing board…

I have to tell you…

The following year, I had a total epiphany when I was wrapping gifts while the kids were in school.

I finally came up with… THE… PERFECT… PLAN!

Every year I would do the same thing… wrap the gifts, tag the gifts, and then stack them all in a large box.  Then, I would lug the box down the stairs to its “hiding place” and on Christmas Eve, I would lug it back upstairs.  … And that’s when it HIT ME!

Why take the box downstairs to its obviously well-known hiding place, when I would just have to haul it back upstairs anyway?!?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to just “hide” the box full of wrapped Christmas gifts… IN PLAIN SIGHT?!?


So, after wrapping enough gifts to fill up a large box, I taped it closed, and WRAPPED THE BOX so that it looked like one huge present!

This way, I could just leave the box under the tree and under my supervision!  Nobody would dare snoop in a box where they might get caught!  Then, on Christmas Eve, all I would have to do is unwrap the box, take the presents out, and place them under the tree…

How cool is that?!?

Of course, when the kids came home from school, they all wanted to know WHO was getting the huge wrapped present that was sitting next to the tree.  Since I had already anticipated that question, I was all prepared with an answer… “It’s for Aunt Sue.  Uncle Jay is leaving it here until Christmas so she won’t see it.”

Surprisingly, they totally bought that explanation and I was able to get another 3 years out of this method before they caught on… but I was sooooooo proud of myself that I had finally outsmarted the smarty pants!

Now that they all have kids of their own, they’ll be going through the “snooping” phase soon… but heck… I’ve already done the hard part!  Sheesh… I think I made it too easy for them!



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