Black Friday: High-tech help to hide gifts from kids

PORTLAND - There's a high-tech solution to the annual holiday headache of hiding gifts from prying eyes.

Parents for years have bent over backwards to find the time for 'secret' shopping trips - sans children. Or they resort to sending their kids off on wild goose chases to the far corners of the store, giving them a few short minutes in the toy aisle to grab that must-have gift. And the elaborate subterfuge doesn't stop there: there's usually an equally desperate scramble to keep the item under wraps long enough to check out.

"We actually get that quite a bit," says Jeff Tomlinson, general manager of the Target store in northeast Portland. "Our guests will be shopping and then hand an item to one of our team members and say, 'Can you bring this up to the front and hold it for me?' Or, 'Do you have a big bag so I can hide it?'"

But this year Target has found a way to help parents skip the secrecy - and maybe make more sales in the process. Shoppers with smartphones can now scan the QR code on any of Target's 20 'Top Toys' and make the buy right there on the spot. Or they can save the item to purchase later - when little ones won't be watching. Using this system also entitles you to free shipping to your house or anywhere.

The same convenience extends to gift cards - no need for sleight of hand - just scan the QR code and send a digital card via email. The transfer takes about three hours - but still amounts to same-day service, perfect for last-minute shoppers who have run out of time to ship gifts to far away friends and families.