Secret Santa?

Image taken from perpetualplum's photostream on Flickr under Creative Commons License

With Christmas decorations once again beginning to appear in the shops (yes it is September!) I’ve been thinking a bit about Christmas gift giving.

In my last post ‘Let’s have a party’, I wrote a bit about the merits of giving second hand presents for kids. Environmentally it’s a great thing to do, and I think kids generally are just appreciative of fun presents – whether they come with packaging and are brand spanking new or not.

What about gift giving for adults?

Understandably there will be some social circles in which a second hand present is just not an acceptable practice. You can try and educate the masses, or think of alternate options.

My husband comes from a large family and it is just impractical to give everyone of his sisters and brother and partners and kids a present. Even if you had enough money to be able to do that everyone would end up with an obscene amount of presents each, and the day would just lose its meaning, swamped by ‘stuff’ instead of spirit.

In my husbands family each adult has always bought a present for one or two of the kids but for the adults we’ve tried a range of different gift giving arrangements.

When I first joined the family we started out doing Secret Santa or Kris Kringle as it is sometimes known in Australia. Everyone got the name of an adult they were buying for and had to spend approx. $40 on a present.

After a few years we abandoned the adult presents, giving the money to a charity instead. Each year  it would rotate as to which adult got to pick the charity we would donate the money to. This is a good option for when you don’t need any more ‘stuff’ and can contribute to some important causes, but sometimes I wonder if by not giving anything a bit of the fun is  taken away from Christmas.

That doesn’t mean I think we should stop donating to charity, just that I want to think about getting some of the fun and joy of gift giving back into Christmas.

Last year I went to a work Christmas party which had a different take on Kris Kringle. Basically everyone bought a present for approx. $10. You didn’t have a particular person in mind for it, just trying to buy a really cool, funny or quirky present.

When it came to present time all the wrapped presents were thrown in a box and everyone drew a number out of a hat. The person who got #1 got to be first to pick a present out of the box and unwrap it. #2 could then choose to either take a present out of the box or steal #1’s present off them (in which case #1 would have to draw again from the box). Numbers lower down would potentially be able to steal a present from anyone who had gone before them.

Done in a fun spirit as it was this day, it was a whole heap of fun, and brought a great dimension to the afternoon. There was great banter around who pulled out what and the audacity of some people stealing off others. There was also a good mix of humorous, edible and funky presents. Presents ranged from a Mills and Boon novel, a ‘Best of the 80s’ music DVD, chocolates, wine, snow domes with pictures of work colleagues in them and the coveted red ‘Maxwell and Williams’ bowls with white polka dots that were  the most ‘stolen’ and coveted item.

Maybe I’m a touch biased though towards Secret Santa/Kris Kringle though. After all, I got the…..

If you celebrate Christmas, what are the ways in which you make it a fun and giving day without buying everyone you know a present because it’s what you’re ‘suppossed’ to do?

Image taken from with thanks to perpetualplum. 


About greenleftyidealist

Green, left and idealistic. A mum, a runner, a rogainer, a public servant and wanna be writer. My dog is golden.
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2 Responses to Secret Santa?

  1. Carmen says:

    I like the sound of the work Kris Kringle; that sounded fun.

    I don’t have much to add to this because my family is one that gives an obscene amount of gifts to each and every person that attends Christmas day, including great aunt Nelly’s cousins-best friend’s-mother-in-law’s-dentist, whom no one has ever met before and just this year happens to be visiting from Dingleberry*, and whereby at the end of the commercially driven atrocity that was ‘the presents’ there is so much ripped paper in the loungeroom that the youngest grandchild is almost certainly buried in wrapping. Probably having a lovely time of it too, playing with sparkly ribbons or eating sticky tape or something.

    Oh to stop the madness…

    *Dingleberry may not actually exist. Great aunt Nelly’s cousins-best friend’s-mother-in-law’s-dentist may also not exist and has been fabricated for the purposes of this post. Any similarity to real persons would be really quite hilarious!

    • Yeah the work Kris Kringle was a heap of fun. When people get into it and joke around and steal it makes it. As for those relatives from Dingleberry… we’ve all been there! But it is interesting, even if we don’t jump in and make drastic changes, to be more mindful of the whole giving thing. And if we still want to give lots of gifts maybe we can ask redirect the type of things we get. Homemade gifts (like cupcakes) or edible gifts (like cupcakes) or chocolate gifts (like cupcakes) or vegan gifts (like cupcakes) might be good options. Or another cool gift I forgot to mention… cheesecake……mmmmmmm

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