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How to secretly shop on Amazon and not ruin any surprises

How to secretly shop on Amazon and not ruin any surprises
Kristina Flour

It's that time of year again! The holiday shopping hustle and bustle is in full gear again and you know what that means - millions will hit both brick-and-mortar and online stores for that perfect gift, some even taking advantage of early holidays deals to save cash.

But early gift shopping poses a common problem - how do you NOT ruin that holiday surprise?

For example, you may not know this yet but your Amazon account's entire purchasing history on the online shopping giant's site is recorded and all activity is likewise tracked.

While this is great for reviewing all your past orders or for checking old receipts and transactions, there may be times when this need shall arise - you will want to hide items you've bought, browsed or searched for in your Amazon history for one reason or another.

This might pose a problem for homes where all family members share a single Amazon account for browsing and purchasing.

Hiding your Amazon history can be necessary for a variety of things. It could be for a personal reason, like bought or searched items you're too embarrassed to reveal, or for something with an altruistic twist.

Most of the time, you just don't want to reveal spoilers for gifts you've bought for your loved ones.

Here are a few tips that should help you hide your holiday shopping activity on Amazon and even have your items delivered to an address other than your home.

Amazon Household

One way to avoid Amazon gift spoilers and hide your purchases from your family is by setting up an Amazon Household Account. This is available for Amazon Prime members and it allows you to share all the Amazon Prime perks and your library of purchased digital content with another adult in your household.

With this, you and your significant other can have separate Amazon accounts, each with its own respective shopping history, wish lists and notifications.

Click here for Amazon Prime perks you're probably not using.

Your Amazon Household can have up to six members:

  • Two adults, each with a separate Amazon account.
  • Up to four child profiles (used for Amazon's service for kids called FreeTime). Child profiles are disabled from making purchases on Amazon.

The two adult accounts can also manage the household's child profiles.

To share your Amazon Prime membership, go to Account Settings >> Manage Your Content and Devices >> Settings >> Holds and Family Library >> Invite Adult.

For all Amazon shoppers

For non-Amazon Prime members, don't despair. If you're sharing the same Amazon account with another family member, there are still ways to hide purchases and searches to avoid potentially heartbreaking gift spoilers.

Archive an order

One is archiving an order. Not only will this action hide gift purchases from your order history, it can also hide items that you no longer want to reference or simply embarrassed to reveal.

To archive an order, go to your Amazon account's "Your Orders" section, locate the particular item you want to archive then select "Archive Order."

This will remove the item from immediate viewing within your order history. Note: Archived orders can still be viewed by going to "Your Account" page and selecting "View Archived Orders." These items can also be restored by selecting "Unarchive Order."

Remove items from browsing history

To avoid revealing your potential gift ideas to your household, you can remove an item from your browsing history or even clear it out entirely.

To do this, go to your Amazon account's "Your Browsing History" section then click "Remove" on each item you'd like to clear. You can also clear every item out by clicking "Remove all items."

Note: You can also turn off your account's Browsing History entirely by selecting "Turn off browsing history."

Remove items from your Recommendations

Another source for potential gift spoilers is Amazon's Recommended List. This list is automatically populated with what Amazon thinks you'll be interested in based on your prior purchases, including gifts.

To exclude certain purchases from influencing your recommendations, go to your Amazon's account's "Improve Your Recommendations" section, locate the particular item you want to exclude then select "Don't use for recommendations" or "This was a gift."

Ship to an Amazon Locker

Deliveries of unexpected items can also cause unnecessary gifting spoilers. Nothing says "something's up" more blatantly than a big Amazon box waiting on your front door, especially when a special occasion like a birthday or an anniversary is coming up. (Yep, sometimes, a gift-wrapped wooden pony will look exactly like a gift-wrapped wooden pony.)

To avoid Amazon home or office delivery gift spoilers, you can always ship to your nearby Amazon Locker.

What are Amazon Lockers? They're basically self-serve delivery kiosks located in more than 2,000 spots across 50 U.S. cities. You can ship an item to an Amazon Locker of your choice and then pick it up at a time that's convenient for you.

To ship to an Amazon Locker, simply find your closest Locker location while logged in to your Amazon account then add it to your shipping address book. Now, each time you check out an item, you can select your chosen Locker as your shipping address.

Once an item has been delivered to the Locker, Amazon will email you the unique six-digit code you'll use to retrieve it. Just enter the code on the Locker's touchscreen interface, wait for the Locker door to open then simply pick up your package.

Note that although most items can be shipped to Amazon Lockers, there are still size and weight restrictions and you only have three calendar days to pick it up or it will be returned to Amazon for a refund.

There is no additional cost for using an Amazon Locker either but standard shipping rates (including free Amazon Prime two-day shipping) still apply.

Ship to a different address

You can also ship to a different address by visiting the "Manage Addresses and 1-Click Settings" in Your Account.

Just click "Enter a new address" and put in the details. For security reasons, you will be asked to confirm your credit card each time you place an order using a new or edited address.

Note: You can also delete or edit any saved address you have in this section.

Bonus tipMake a list and check it twice

Anyone can benefit from a little organization when it comes to shopping online, especially when you're trying to be spoiler-free.

So, start with a list to track all your gifts. A spreadsheet like Excel will work well.

List everyone who will be getting a present. Then, list the item you intend to purchase. Make columns for the online store, the date ordered, and the expected arrival date. Add a column to check off arrivals. For good measure, include a column for tracking numbers.

This list will help you track your purchases, hidden or otherwise. If something doesn't arrive on time, you can investigate.

Get cash back without even trying when buying gifts this year

You’re going to shop this holiday season anyway, so you might as well be rewarded for it with cash backs. Here are some super simple ways to get cash back that require little to no effort on your part.

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