Secret Santa is, at this point, a well-seated Christmas tradition, right alongside carolling and charades. One of the most appealing traits of Secret Santa is the restoration of some of the child-like magic surrounding a mysterious gift giver. If you sneak around and do some digging, might you catch your festive fraud red-handed? Perhaps you approach Secret Santa in better faith, never asking who and instead revelling in the fun of receiving anything at all.
Perhaps the biggest draw of Secret Santa is that it is an easy way to get everyone involved and make them feel included. Be this at work, within your friend group, or amongst your family, arranging a Secret Santa deal is a great way of bringing others into the fold who might not feel that they would be able to get involved otherwise. Setting a maximum spend is potentially good for accessibility as, even without a cost-of-living crisis, Christmas can be a very expensive time of year. For some, the pressure to match the gifts of others who are wealthier, or having to buy multiple gifts, is a daunting prospect. Capping the spend can be helpful in alleviating some of the anxiety.
Perhaps the biggest draw of Secret Santa is that it is an easy way to get everyone involved and make them feel included.
Of course, it goes without saying that for many who partake in Secret Santa, it is the gift shopping that is the most important part. Maybe you’ve really wanted the opportunity to get to know someone a bit better, and this is your way in. Or you’ve lucked out and got the one person who you knew all along what the perfect gift would be. More likely still, you’ll be glad of the opportunity to do your 20th lap of the Exeter Christmas market.
This isn’t to say that every Secret Santa is an occasion for success. I remember (thankfully with some distance) a Secret Santa that was arranged within my tutor group in year 8 of Secondary School. I wasn’t hugely familiar with the name I pulled, but I wasn’t going to let that dishearten me. I knew them vaguely, and I knew some of the things they liked based on what they talked most about. In the end, I settled on some fluffy Pig socks (this person loved pigs), with a candy cane lodged in one of the pair, because you can’t be too festive. I thought it was really cute, and very weather-appropriate! They, judged by their face, didn’t agree.
But one pitfall isn’t a good reason to throw the baby out with the bath water. Secret Santa is still a tremendous amount of fun, and I would recommend it heartily to anyone.