Secret Santa Doesn’t Work!

I can appreciate the thought behind Secret Santa gift exchange. Names are picked randomly and anonymously from a hat. Participants then buy a gift under $15 for the person they picked. The gifts are to be signed from “Secret Santa.”

I have had a few bad experiences with Secret Santa. I remember when I was a child and we did this, I just happened to pick my best friend’s name. Of course, I wanted to get him a really cool gift so I went over the dollar limit. I got him a gift I knew he would appreciate. I was excited about the day we exchanged gifts. I didn’t realize that my present would cause such a stir. My friend got the coolest and most expensive gift and everyone knew it. A lot of people seemed upset about this. I will never forget it.

I don’t think Secret Santa gift exchanges are fair. I chose not to have on in my class this year for a few reasons.

1) The teacher always has to buy at least two gifts in case someone forgets or is unable to buy one for the person they picked.
2) Someone is usually upset at the gift they got in comparison to everyone else’s.
3) People have forgotten the concept behind the “Secret” part and sign their names.
4) People try to figure out who gave them the gift.
5) I keep getting the same thing over and over again.
6) Some places of work don’t allow you to opt out of this.
7) Someone is usually left out. A lot of times it is a small oversight but it seems to happen every year.

I don’t like this practice at all. If you want to give someone a gift, then by all means do it. But don’t make this a big event that everyone needs to participate in.

Last night, we had the annual staff Christmas party at my school. We came and put our gifts under the tree. I noticed that my gift was signed, as were most of the others that I saw. I made sure that the gift I gave wasn’t signed by me but by “Secret Santa.”

I don’t want to sound unappreciative. I like giving and receiving gifts. It is part of the fun and wonder of Christmas. However, the truth is that now that I am older, the gifts aren’t really important to me anymore. If I didn’t get one gift this year but spent a lot of quality time with family and friends, I would be happy. Besides, last night I received the third insulated, stainless steel, coffee mug from Secret Santa. I don’t even drink coffee. Oh well. It’s the thought that counts right? Or is it?

6 responses to “Secret Santa Doesn’t Work!”

  1. We don’t really have a slushie machine in my school. It was a joke based on a forwarded email I shared with you.

    I wanted to give a gift that was practical and could be appreciated. I sent an email gift certificate to be used at This way she could get a book, DVD, or CD. I hope she likes it.

  2. I agree with you on this, Chase. My current office doesn’t have one of those things anymore, but they did in my old workplace, which didn’t work so well because everyone seemed to hate each other in that hellhole.

  3. I’m kind of interested to hear what those presents might have been at the workplace where everyone hated each other! I haven’t come across this Secret Santa idea, so maybe we don’t do it here in Britain or I’ve just been lucky! It sounds like a dodgy idea for all the reasons you’ve given.

    I was invited to a Hanukkah party last week. I’m Christian rather than Jewish by upbringing so this was my first time. They have a tradition of everyone putting an inexpensive present in a tub and then passing it round and drawing one out at random. There’s one tub for males and one for females. It seemed to work fine. There’s more chance of getting an inappropriate present then with Secret Santa, I guess, but at least there’s no bad feeling about it – it’s just the luck of the draw. I put in a pen and took out some chocolate mints. I can live with that…

  4. That sounds like a better idea, SS. Although, I think just sharing time and a meal at Christmas is all we really need to do at staff parties. Of course, I am lucky enough to get a bonus check too; lots of places don’t do that anymore.