Over the last few years, the concept of online holiday shopping has exploded into the mainstream. Millions of online shoppers find hot deals on "Cyber Monday" and through the entire holiday shopping season, but how do you keep nosey kids or a significant other from discovering what you bought them?

Here are five tips to avoid the 21st century version of snooping in the closet, looking for gifts.

  1. Go Solo - Avoid using joint or shared credit cards, email addresses, or shopping accounts. This one seems pretty obvious, but it's a good first step to make sure your hubby doesn't learn about that special gift you're getting for them.
  2. Cover Your Tracks- Make sure you aren't leaving virtual tracks on your computer that show what you've been shopping for. Internet browsers keep a very detailed history of what you've looked at, so be sure to delete or hide your history.
    1. Delete Your Cookies - Don't let Amazon give you away with a recommended tripod to go along with that camera you bought. Online shopping websites rely on cookies as a means to remember what you've looked at in online stores and offer recommendations for future purchases. If you don't know how to delete your cookies, here is a nice set of instructions.
    2. Clear Your History - This is the stereotypical thing way to cover your tracks when browsing things online. It's also the first thing a snooper might check, so be sure to clear it before you step away from the computer after an online shopping excursion.
    3. Go Incognito - Avoid the need to delete your cookies or clear your history with one easy step! Most current versions of internet browsers have a "private mode" or "incognito mode" that doesn't track and store incriminating shopping information. Here is a guide on how to go private.
  3. Throw Them Off - If you want to throw a curveball for potential snoopers, perform completely random gift-related searches. Maybe a Google search of "What is the best amount of coal to give a naughty kid?" might be a good starting point.
  4. Avoid Tech Whistleblowing - If your smartphone or tablet displays alerts for email and shopping apps, you should make sure these alerts are turned off or don't display detailed information. You should also be conscious of email and text message alerts, as a package delivery text message could tip off your snoopers. It also goes without saying that you should avoid leaving your email open if you walk away from your computer, tablet, or phone.
  5. Go Covert - If you're having your packages delivered to you, and the recipients live with you, think about alternatives. Could you have your packages sent to your workplace? Do you have a neighbor, coworker, or family member you could have packages mailed to? Some shipping companies also offer the option to have packages held at a local distribution center. Taking advantage of this, you could swing by the local FedEx office (or whoever it is being shipped through) and pick up your packages at a time you know you can sneak them into your home.

Hopefully these tips help keep your gifts a secret this season! If you have any additional tips you've successfully used, please leave them in the comments section below!

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