Los Angeles, California (The Hollywood Times) 10/28/2020 – Every holiday season parents are faced with the challenge of disguising gifts. After all, isn’t it the surprise and seeing your child’s smile the best part of gift giving? We know from experience that wrapping a cell phone or video game the packaging is obvious, so much for the surprise. How about if you were to wrap it in the box with plastic dividers that holds the item or items in place? When your child shakes the box, silence. Disguise the Surprise is perfect for whether it be a jewelry box, a set of jewelry boxes, a spa package the creativity is endless. Imagine the surprise when your child opens the box thinking it’s a new shirt and he or she opens it to find a new cell phone, gift card, and video game? SURPRISE!
Tell us about the holidays with your family. Why is this holiday so important given the pandemic?
I grew up in a house where Christmas was very special! We had our immediate family and some friends over in the morning to open gifts and enjoy a holiday breakfast afterwards. We were fortunate and had way too many gifts under the tree. When you have a larger group and a good amount of gifts, the morning seems to last a while. Both of my parents are no longer with us and we don’t have family anywhere close to us. Christmas is now my husband, our two boys, and me. Much smaller. Being the only female in the house, it’s me wrapping every gift, preparing breakfast, etc. Especially when you are preparing packages from us as parents, and from Santa. It takes more time to think about the wrapping and packaging. I try to make the morning last as long as possible, even if it means putting a pair of socks in a box. The kids are getting older (12 & 15) and have a better grasp of the true meaning of Christmas. I think this holiday season is going to be more about the sincerity of giving a gift, rather than just giving something. People have had some hard times and not too many things to make us smile these days. I think taking the time to create a unique way to bring joy to your loved one’s face is even more important this year. Using this product and creating a fun and memorable moment just means so much for both the giver and the receiver. These are the moments we should create and remember this holiday season. Don’t just give a gift. Make it an experience.
How hard is it to surprise your children now 12 & 15 during the holidays?
It is definitely harder to surprise kids when they get older. They are more aware of how things are packaged and box sizes. They know branding. And their gifts start to get more expensive wanting tech items. I could put something in a bag, but it literally takes maybe one second to pull out tissue paper and then they see the gift. It goes by way too fast. Nothing special at all about that. For me, I wanted it to last longer. If they were getting a new cell phone or video game, I would need to disguise it, for those are very detectable box shapes. I would shove tissue paper in boxes, but it would still move around. I would tape light things down…anything to disguise the gift. Things fall out of bags, so that was not an option. Busy moms don’t have time, so I got frustrated that it was taking so long to get my desired outcome. I took this need and created a solution. I did not know anything about plastics, manufacturers, etc. Step by step, we created a prototype and tested it over and over. I had to find people to work with that know about these industries. Make lots of phone calls and learn every day. I am thrilled to share this product with other people now to make their lives easier. There is a solution! Simply assemble the Disguise The Surprise dividers around your gift in a shirt box that holds it in place. I designed risers to lift shallow items (or put a big puffy bow) and buffer pieces to fill any empty space around the item if needed. We all want to make our loved ones smile, so this is one way to bring the element of surprise to gift-giving which all of us do throughout the year. You can disguise one gift, or package multiple items.
Duffy Hofer video intro: https://youtu.be/0O6NkBgRI4g
Isn’t gift gifting really about surprise?
Yes! Kids are smart and get so excited about gifts. If you put a box under the tree, you better believe they will pick it up, shake it, do everything to try and guess what it is before they open it. That is so boring!!! I want them to be surprised with their gifts, especially if it’s a “special” gift they are really wanting. Make it fun and let them think they are not getting it since the box shape is different. The expression on their face is priceless. But it’s not just for kids. Yes, parents love to make their kids happy and have their kids think they are cool and rock star gift-givers. But I think for adults it is just as important. We don’t get as many gifts now that we are older or we buy them for ourselves. To actually go out of your way to create a special package for an adult would bring a huge smile and they would truly appreciate it. Adults get a lot of clothes, so they would absolutely think that in the shirt box there is some form of clothing. But when they open it, they are blown away. So surprised! Way more fun to give and get a gift with the element of surprise.
What does the box look like? How easy is it to assemble?
Disguise The Surprise is designed to fit inside of a shirt box. The shirt box that we sell in our set is 15” x 9.5” x 2. Not all shirt boxes are the same size. A good amount are slightly shorter at 14.25” so I created a living hinge that folds in to accommodate these shorter boxes. The easiest way to assure a perfect fit is to buy the shirt box with the set. The divider pieces look like long combs with notches that you slide together to create your desired shape. They come in 5 colors (clear, white, red, green & blue). If you want the pieces to be a backdrop, choose something like clear. If you want them to stand out, choose a color. It is very easy to assemble. You can play around with the layout a bit until you get your desired fit. If you are only disguising one gift, very easy. If you are placing multiple items, you might have to move things around a few times until it all fits properly. You can turn your box horizontal or vertical. We have written assembly instructions on the website as well as links to video tutorials to guide you. These instructions also come in the package when you receive your items. And they are reusable, so you can use them over and over again. It comes with a box to store the set in.
Video of Basic Assembly Instructions:
How have you gifted with Disguise The Surprise? What were the reactions?
Last Christmas I used a very rough prototype and gave a package to both my boys and to my husband. I used the kits to disguise PS4 games that the boys wanted and fooled them both! They also got some clothes for Christmas, so they thought the box was just another clothing item. The same for my husband. He wanted this travel strap thing for when he travels for work. It was small. I used the dividers to disguise it and he thought it was clothes! That was the only “surprise” he had for the holiday. It brought a big smile. I also packaged a box for a 15-year-old boy. The main gift was an Amazon gift card, but I put some other items in the remaining sections like candy, gum, slime, rolled up money. I put a package of tic tacs in there, so before opening the box he thought it was Legos because of the sound. Fooled him! He was very excited to open this box and see so many fun gifts inside. Way more fun way to package up a gift!
Why is working with a Manufacturer in the USA so important to you?
When I started on this journey to develop a product and bring it to market, I was told that I would need to have my injection mold made in China because of costs. Too expensive here in the US. But when the quote actually came in, it was much higher, so I researched and called all around the US to find a manufacturer. I was beyond thrilled to find a fabulous company in Chicago that made it for an even lower cost than China! As a business owner, that gave me a huge sense of relief. I don’t even like to buy anything these days that is not made in the USA. There are too many people in this country that are just getting by and if I can support other small businesses, it becomes more of a family. That is the kind of company I want to be part of. Those are the products I want to Buy.
These sets are a super fun and unique way to give a personalized gift to family and friends this holiday, but what other ways can Disguise the Surprise be used for?
Yes! Yankee Swap, also called a White Elephant would be perfect! People might not instinctively want a “shirt box”, but whoever lands with It, will be so excited! It’s a great way to disguise a gift card. People love cash/money at the holidays, so a gift card is always a welcome surprise. Fill the other sections with rolled-up dollar bills, gum, lottery tickets, holiday candy….create a super fun box!
This box can be used throughout the year for many occasions. Think baby showers, graduation, Valentine’s Day (jewelry box), gender reveals, spa themes, sports themes (game tickets and themed team items)…endless possibilities!
What would you like to see for Disguise The Surprise this holiday?
I would like to see people become aware of this concept and create fun memories and experiences for themselves. I would love for people to send their videos and photos of how they used Disguise The Surprise. The reactions are why we exist.
With COVID, unfortunately, people might not be gathering with their extended families this year for safety reasons. Grandparents can’t travel to be with their loved ones. People could mail fun personalized gift boxes using this kit to send to their families. The family could record the openings and send the video to the sender. What a fun video to receive. Watching all the joy that you brought to the faces of your loved ones.