The rise of Secret Santa and the giving of tasteless gifts

Dec 09, 2023
Source: Getty Images.

Secret Santa gifts seem to be something that has become popular at recent group Christmas gatherings. I for one find them a bit of a struggle. Firstly, receiving something utterly useless and ugly, not to mention tasteless and not my style. Or otherwise huge amounts of chocolate which I can’t waste, so I dutifully eat them all up.

And buying is easier when you’ve been nominated by a person whom you know reasonably well, and you know their taste and style. It’s great when they open their gift and you see a genuine smile of appreciation. But the random ones are a bit hit-and-miss. I’ve seen utter bewilderment as people examine their gifts, coming to terms with what they have been lumbered with. One of my worst was a string of green Christmas tree tinsel. The ugliest thing I had ever seen. A packet of custard mix was another. And a china frog in a lurid lime green with its tongue poking out. I’m still wondering.

Of course, we can re-gift to some other poor soul, and hopefully, it is not the person who gave it to you in the first place. Usually, there is a ten-dollar limit. Fair enough. I can do this. I think about the things I use. Hmm. Hand cream, nice quality soap? a candle? I get a little stuck as I browse the aisles whilst being accosted with vile Mariah Carey songs. Undies? no – too personal. Hankies? not they don’t exist anymore. Half an hour later I walk out with a few ten-dollar boxes of chocolates. They can always re-gift them or eat them when bored or depressed.

Another peril is that the poor organiser has perhaps organised a meet up of ten people. She advises everyone of the price limit, and we all turn up. Of course, somebody never got the memo, so they are either going to miss out, or the poor organiser will have a couple of spares wrapped up from her useless gift pile. Oh dear. Out come the plastic salad servers and crocheted doilies.

It just reminds me that Christmas is all about getting together to celebrate another year. For me personally it is also a spiritual time of great significance. Catching up with family, meeting up with friends and eating yummy food whilst contemplating the true meaning for me. So just enjoy the challenge of Secret Santa. At my book club meet up I actually received four really nice cotton serviettes from the local gift shop. A win, and gratefully received with thanks. What are some of your best and worst gifts?

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