Christmas Shopping with Kids in Tow (How to Be Sneaky Like a Ninja)

Today is my 13 year Anniversary – and I’ll be taking the beautiful man that I love and dragging him down the aisles of Target tonight so that we can pick up the last few Christmas presents on our list.  Afterwards, we’ll of course reward ourselves with a movie and some never-ending pasta bowls, but until then – crazy shopping. :)  It all put me in mind of this little piece I wrote last year about “Shopping for Christmas Presents, with Your Kids Present” – and made me grateful that I hadn’t been forced to do that this year… yet. 

Can you relate??  Let us know in the comments!

There comes a time once a year when I find myself and my four children walking through Target’s toy aisles – looking for “gift ideas” for Christmas.  As they point out the toys that are their hearts’ desire – it always occurs to me that it would be a GOOD IDEA to try and buy it right now – during this shopping trip – rather than come back another time.  I don’t know why it always seems like a good idea – because let’s get real here – it is the WORST.  It’s just that I am a little on the lazy side, and in the name of laziness, I can convince myself that almost anything is a good idea.

SO here I am, standing in the Lego aisle and oh-so-covertly trying to sneak an entire Lego Ninjago Training Outpost under a small pile of kids coats.  I’m pretty successful at that, and I grin at my own super-Ninja-like skills.  Then comes the Imaginext Aisle – where boys are going crazy over the Batcave and matching Batmobile.  This is not so easily managed.    (Have you seen the size of those things??)  So I find myself inventing things for them to run and look at while I maneuver the 2×3′ contraption under more coats.

This continues for awhile – my stress level mounting as the basket of lumpy coats begins to seem… suspiciously mountainous.  It is then that I begin to glance sideways for store security, who will surely come running around the corner any moment to take me down for attempted theft.  The kids grow suspicious too at this point – and I hurry them to the register jabbering promises of treats in the cashier line.

Once in line – I make them sit at a table in the nearby Starbucks, where I can watch them like a hawk while simultaneously begining a complex “toy handoff” dance with the cashier, so as to hide everything while it’s being scanned.  Having finally paid up and triple-bagged everything, I herd my crew to the van, sweating bullets and swearing to myself that I will never again be so ridiculous. (HA)

Well, tonight I went to Target on my own while my husband (saint that he is) fed the kids dinner and put them to bed.  I leisurely made my way through the toy aisles to grab a couple last-minute gifts, and noticed a woman about my age with two young children.  The first thing that tipped me off was her telling the boy to “Go look at that!” while she ducked into the BeyBlade section and hid something under her coat.  “Ha-ha…” I chuckled to myself, in a self-congratulatory way – “she must not know the “pile of coats” trick!”  I walked away to finish up shopping, and once at the register, I noticed her again.  She was sending her kids to sit at the Starbucks table while she checked out – and aside from her basket of seemingly mundane items – she clutched a garbage can to her chest.  “Wait a minute…..” I thought.  Sure enough, she was telling the cashier that she didn’t actually NEED this garbage can, just what was inside – as she handed over the wastebasket laden with secret gifts.  BRILLIANT!!!  I thought (and almost yelled aloud) as I watched in awe.

I was witnessing a master in action – and I had to walk over and shake this woman’s hand.  She smiled and blushed, and I complimented her sneakiness, wishing her a Merry Christmas. Well done Target lady – well done indeed.  I think we might need to be best friends now.  Call me?


  1. Jennifer says

    Awesome idea! I have actually done the coat trick but it was super stressful so last night with my 5 year old in tow i invented a new trick! I told him we were shopping for little children who didnt have any Christmas presents and that I really needed his help to show me things that they would like and he was more than excited to help! So at my suggestion of the things I knew he wanted he was happy to fill my buggy and I got out with some great deals and no hiding things under coats! But the garbage can idea is brilliant!

  2. jenni says

    I have done the pile of coats trick. But I have found that Sterlite storage totes are the bom diggity! Like the garbage can it works well with its lid.

  3. says

    I finally gave up trying to hide things from my 12 year old like that….impossible now. Yet, I still don’t feel comfortable sending him off in the store by himself. Yesterday I took him with me and although I had most of his gift purchased, I let him pick out sunglasses, a wallet, a watch and some fish for his fish tank.

    Surprises are nice, but I got tired of taking things back. The older they get, the pickier they get.

    Great story, I shopped that way with my son as long as I could.

  4. says

    Love it :) I decided Katelyn (3) is really getting too big to go shopping with us. Troy said we should take her and we actually managed well. She didn’t once ask about any of the items in the cart although she did try to add a few of her own!

    Merry Christmas!!


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