Like every kid, I absolutely loved getting gifts on Christmas. I was that sneaky, stealthy kid who would hunt for her gifts days before Christmas to see if my parents bought me what I had asked for. If the presents were wrapped, I would carefully peel back the wrapping paper to have a peek. Of course, I still acted surprised and excited on Christmas Day.
My first couple of experiences participating in the Secret Santa gift exchange were in elementary school and high school. Although the idea was great and there was the element of secrecy and surprise, I wound up with pretty crappy, useless gifts. I can’t remember exactly, but I think the limit was in the range of $10-$20. I know with a small limit like that, it can be quite difficult to find a small, decent gift. However, you can never go wrong with Ferrero Rocher or Toblerone. Unless they have a nut allergy, which is quite common these days.
Secret Santa Gift Exchange
As I grew older, the whole idea of Christmas being associated with presents really didn’t matter to me so much as spending time with my family and friends. There are just some presents that you can’t unwrap or fit under a tree. While I am not a huge fan of trying to figure out what to get people for Christmas or spending several hundred dollars on presents, (Does anyone know the exact time in history when Christmas became so commercialized?) I am a HUGE fan of Secret Santa/Kris Kringle/Secret Gift Exchange, etc. Why?
Because it is efficient.
It saves you time, money and most of all sanity. It is like a godsend to non-shoppers like myself. You just have to shop for that one person. I know nowadays you can do shopping online in your pajamas, but I still think it is necessary to go to the store in person to verify certain qualities of an item, depending on what it is. For example, I personally wouldn’t buy a laptop online, without actually going into the store and checking it out in person. Silly as this may sound, shopping is all about using your senses.
Thanks to the internet, Secret Santa has become even more efficient. With everyone having different schedules and priorities, it can be hard to have a get together to randomly draw names out of a hat. Thanksgiving would probably be an ideal day to do it, if you are doing a gift exchange with your family. What if not everyone is able to attend during that time?
Another issue is actually holding on to that scrap piece of paper with your recipient’s name on it and not losing it. Yes, it can happen. We drew names after Thanksgiving dinner. My partner actually lost his paper. Although he still has an idea of whose name he drew.
Gift Exchange Resources
There are many free websites online, such as Elfster that coordinate the gift exchange for you. One person, the organizer, sets the gift limit, date, time and place for the gift exchange and sends an evite to those who are to participate. Once people have responded, Elfster pairs you up with someone. No scrap piece of paper to lose. All you have to do is create an account to login.
One of the hardest things with a secret gift exchange is not knowing what to get your person. There is an option in Elfster to create a wish list of things you would like. You can post links to items you want and add notes, such as specifying the size for a certain article of clothing. You can anonymously ask your recipient questions about what they would like or what’s on their wish list and vice versa.
This makes it so much easier for your Secret Santa because they know what to get you and you won’t be getting a possible regift. To still keep that element of surprise, I would suggest having at least five items on your wish list. That way, you don’t know exactly what you’re getting, but you’ll still be getting something you actually want. If you’re like me, someone who doesn’t really want or need anything (except time, sleep and money), you can always ask them to make an online donation to a charity of your choice.
What are your thoughts on Secret Santa Gift Exchanges or White Elephant Gift Exchanges?