Kim Komando Special for USA TODAY
Published 6:00 AM EST Nov 22, 2018
Tinsel and trees are great, but much of Christmas is about the surprise. As the advent calendar winds down to Dec. 25, suspense builds. What unexpected gift will emerge from those brightly wrapped boxes and stockings?
Keeping your gifts a secret is harder than ever, because so much shopping is done online, and the digital paper-trail is extensive. Household computers are replete with receipts and notifications, and it’s easy to forget how many ways a shared account can blow your cover. Worse, you may not even realize how many clues you leave.
Since Amazon has become the global nucleus of online shopping, you’ll be relieved to know that the company provides several settings and safeguards – mostly designed with the holidays in mind. (Although it’s also handy for birthdays and anniversaries).
Just follow these three straightforward steps to keep your Christmas gifts under wraps.
Hide Christmas presents from your kids
First step: make sure you hide your Amazon purchases. The easiest tactic is an Amazon Household account. You can share your Amazon account and Amazon perks like free movies on Prime with your family – and there’s no additional cost.
Amazon Household includes one adult. This person has access to your stored payment methods and Prime perks, like free shipping. You can also share it with up to four teenagers and four kids ages 12 and under. This way, teenagers and kids won’t have access to everything you’re doing on Amazon.
More: 9 Amazon Prime perks you didn’t know about – until now
How does this prevent others from ruining Christmas? Teenagers have their own login, and you will either receive a text to approve their purchases or you can put a spending limit on their accounts. Kids will have access to free, kid-appropriate digital content, like Amazon FreeTime.
Note: You still can’t hide your purchase history from another adult with an Amazon Household account. But hopefully, that second adult isn’t trying to find their Christmas presents. You might try to warn them with a “spoiler alert,” so they don’t go poking around the “purchases” list.
Hide presents in your archive
If you’re a parent or guardian, you know that no Christmas gift is entirely safe from early detection. Somehow, there’s always one or two gifts that don’t elicit squeals of surprise.
Digitally, though, there are ways to make it tough for anyone to see what you’ve purchased, including your Amazon online purchases. One way to do that is to archive your order history.
More: Amazon drops $25 minimum for free shipping through holiday shopping season
That’s relatively easy to do, and it’s tricky for anyone to find those archived orders (although not impossible). Here’s what you do.
Go to your Amazon homepage. Click on Orders in the menu to the right of Account & Lists. You’ll see your orders. Click on Archive Order on the right side of each item.
Here’s the point: It’s a little challenging to find those archived purchases. To find yours, go to Orders, then click on the drop-down menu where it says Past 6 Months and select Archived Orders – you’ll be given the option to unarchive an order.
Remove your browsing history
Your kids are smart or tricky, or both. They know where to find your Amazon purchases, and the items you’ve been searching for on the site. They also know that a browser’s history is a dead giveaway – especially when cookies and targeted ads announce everything you’ve been reviewing for the past few days.
You still have some control, and you can make it tough for others to find anything there.
It’s easy to clear your browsing history on Amazon, although it could take several minutes if you’ve ordered a lot of items. Start by opening your Amazon homepage.
You’ll see Browsing History on the upper-left side of the homepage. Hover over the drop-down menu. You will see your most recent purchases along with the date you purchased them. Hover over that date, and you’ll see an X and the word, “Remove.”
You can also click on the Browsing History link the menu. You can remove one item at a time or click on Manage History in the upper-right side to remove all items or to turn off your browsing history.
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.
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