Christmas is Coming So Time for Wealthy Secret Santa

by David Ning · 18 comments

secret santa

The holiday season is coming and our company asked us to participate in the annual Secret Santa event. Secret Santa for those who aren’t familiar is a game where each person buys a gift for another person. Everyone picks a person to buy the gift for by drawing the name out of a hat and the recipient of the gift is never supposed to know who the gift came from. The idea of this is very good, but the last few years have seen the price limit of gifts skyrocket.

Every year, we say that the rules are to buy a gift that falls in the $10 – $15 range. This is good because it keeps the dollar amount low so everyone can concentrate on the fun spirit of the game instead of thinking that it will break his/her wallet.

Last few years though, things have changed. There were some people that literally buy gifts that must be worth at least $100 dollars. Some of you might think that this is fine if the person wants to spend the money but what ends up happening is that everyone else is pressured to buy a more expensive gift now. (It is interesting to note that the boss always get the most expensive gift.)

Instead of the game being fun, it has turned into a good size expense for people who participate. The game is supposed to be fun and creativity should be a big part of it. The excuse that one cannot buy anything for $10 – $15 is just incorrect. The point of Secret Santa is so everyone gets something around Christmas and seeing what everyone else gets, not to mention the fun we get with shopping for the gift. There’s nowhere that says gifts have to be at least $50.

It’s Christmas. Enjoy our Secret Santa game and don’t spoil it. I hope that everyone that works at my office stumbles onto this article before they buy their gifts this year..

What about you? Does your company host Secret Santa? How is your experience there?

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

JB @ GetRichOrDieTrying December 5, 2007 at 10:43 am

This is just one of the things that has ruined Christmas. For one, I believe gifts are a waste. What was the last Christmas gift you received at your office that you really enjoyed? Christmas isn’t about adults… the only people that should receive presents are children… under 18. After that, it’s just a waste.

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Blondie November 3, 2010 at 1:05 am

I totally agree. If you’re over 18, you can shop for yourself anytime of the year. We started buying for kids only, about 15 yrs ago. Guess what? Now we all get to buy for one child who is 3yo. HOORAY..

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FinanceAndFat December 5, 2007 at 11:02 am

That’s funny. Sounds like the last Christmas episode of The Office.

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Double Journey December 5, 2007 at 4:20 pm

Seriously, if you are in these secret santa things and some people decide to go above and beyond, so be it.

Afraid of looking cheap? One of the keys to financial success is to stop caring what others think. The “keeping up with the jonses” mentality kills so many people, and for what?

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MoneyNing December 5, 2007 at 4:40 pm

JB: I consider myself an adult but I also want a gift. :) I believe for most relationships it’s a waste of money but there are certain people that I think getting a Christmas gift for is good.

FinanceAndFat: I should watch that episode :D

Double Journey: I guess you are right but the imbalance in gifts received is making the game no fun anymore. :)

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Maybelle December 5, 2007 at 6:10 pm

i think your office should change things up and do a white elephant gift exchange. much, much more fun.

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MoneyNing December 5, 2007 at 6:22 pm

Maybelle: What’s a white elephant gift exchange?

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Double Journey December 5, 2007 at 7:37 pm

A white elephant gift exchange is one where everybody buys gifts and puts it in the “pot”. Than one by one, people choose gifts and open them. The twist is that on your turn, you are allowed to either take from the “pot” or take someone else’s gift.

If your gift is stolen, it is your turn to choose. You can choose to steal (except the gift that was just stolen from you) or choose from the pot.

It turns into a lot of fun because people get upset about who is stealing from them.

I realize the imbalance makes it no fun anymore MoneyNing, but that’s why I say you shouldn’t worry about it. Buy what you want, and if you get a great gift, so be it. You didn’t ask for it and if someone wants to do something extra nice, great for you. I wouldn’t feel guilty about buying someone something less. There should be no expectation that you give outside the rules, no should there be guilt on your part for doing so.

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DC August 25, 2011 at 11:11 am

We played the “White Elephant” Exchange game once and no one came away happy. Similar in style, but with more class, our group prefers the “Chinese Auction”. No (new) may cost more than $15.00. Everything has to be wrapped, preferably in newspaper, but still made to look like a Christmas gift. No calenders, lottery tickets, hand towels, or commercial advertising articles are allowed as gifts. What has gotten screams of laughter and hotly contested until the line was drawn, were things such as erotic chocolates, funny underwear, a stuffed toy gorilla – with banana, a (hand-indent) beer glass. There is a limit to how many times a gift can change hands if the group is large (3 times). Ours was 50 members so we had to limit. But such things can be a ton of fun if no one ruins it by cutting corners or bringing junk.

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Maybelle December 5, 2007 at 10:56 pm

to add to double journey’s definition: The white elephant gift exchange (also called Yankee Swap, Scottish Gift Exchange, Thieving Secret Santa, Dirty Santa, Nasty Christmas[1], Chinese Gift Exchange, or Thieving Elves) is a popular party game usually played during the Christmas season in the United States. The premise of the game is that each guest contributes one gift to the game, and ultimately each guest walks away with one different gift from the game. The type of gift is sometimes decided ahead of time (e.g., “something less than $10,” “a used item from home,” “a gag gift,” etc.).

I usually play it as a used item from the home or a gag gift. It’s really fun that way.

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Modern Worker December 6, 2007 at 8:38 am

I’ve never done the white elephant deal, I guess it’s not too popular in this area(?) In any case, it seems to complicated to be fun. Perhaps I’m just more focused on hot chocolate and white lights :)

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MoneyNing December 6, 2007 at 11:44 am

Double Journey: Hmm it sounds interesting. It might be too hard for the office since we have like 50 people though since we would be playing forever :D

Maybelle: Can you actually end up getting your own gift if no one wants it?

Modern Worker: You forgot the socks. You gotta have the socks….

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Double Journey December 6, 2007 at 1:14 pm

I explanation might be long-winded but it really is rather simple. Best way to understand it is to actually see it in action. I played with about 30 or 40 people, and it happens faster than you think. The rules break down to

1. A turn order is determined.
2. If it’s your turn, pick anything you want.
2. If someone chooses your gift it is your turn. Go to step #2.
3. Next person goes.

Maximum # of times any 1 gift can be “taken” = X (this being variable depending on time constraints)

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Danny @ MarketTreasure.com December 6, 2007 at 3:00 pm

Just like all the above people have said, that is what spoils all the fun out of this holiday.

People are too pre-occupied with how much money to spend, and who spends the most money that the whole holiday has just become one huge business month.

It’s not just with Christmas it’s with all holidays throughout the year.

I used to enjoy Christmas much more hehe

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MoneyNing December 6, 2007 at 3:33 pm

Double Journey: So the last person on the list is actually the best then since he/she gets to steal anyone’s gift?

Danny: Yeah me too. Maybe it’s cuz I was still a kid and Christmas is nothing but fun though. I hate being an adult :)

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Double Journey December 6, 2007 at 4:34 pm

In theory they could get the best gift, but they may not. Remember the rule that a gift may only be stolen so many times. So if the gift you really want was “stolen” too many times, you may end up with a not so good gift.

My experience has shown that someone in the middle ends up with the best gift. They get to see most of what is out there, but gifts haven’t been stolen so many times that you don’t have your pick.

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MoneyNing December 7, 2007 at 10:12 am

Double Journey: Oh I missed the point about the limited stealing of each gift :)

I’m sure the game is frustrating and fun at the same time :)

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Dividends4Life December 19, 2007 at 11:14 am

That sounds like what happens in a lot of offices. I prefer the white elephant gifts, that way everyone comes and leaves with “junk”.

Best Wishes,
D4L

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