It’s bad enough that we have to brave crowded malls, supermarkets and other stores during the final days before Christmas, but at least we can take solace in knowing that this last-second shopping is being done for the people that we are closest to. Because that’s who we buy Christmas presents for, right? Our family, best friends, etc.
We don’t buy presents for that one friend who we only see every two months. We make a firm decision of exactly who we want to pay tribute to during the holidays, and it’s usually just a handful of people that we have known for a very long time.
If we want to acknowledge others, we send a Christmas card. There’s no need to spend more that 79 cents on a distant cousin.
Because Christmas shopping sucks. There’s no other way to describe it — it sucks. Aside from crowded stores, there’s also the heavy traffic to and from, and just the general pressure of deciding what you even want to purchase in the first place. But again, it’s the sacrifice we make for our loved ones.
Oh wait, I forgot somebody else who we have to go through this trouble for — that one co-worker that was selected randomly for you to buy a present for.
If you work in an office, then you most likely had the opportunity to participate in a Secret Santa swap this month.
The idea is that you list a few low-cost items that you want for Christmas on a slip of paper. When every participant has done so, you select a slip from a bag, and receive somebody at random. There is a limit on how much you can spend — normally $15 to $20 — and you have to anonymously buy the person one of their listed items, thus making you a “Secret Santa.”
It’s a great idea on the surface. A workplace is a fairly mundane, conventional environment, and it’s nice to spice things up a little. It’s also a good way to boost work relationships, and to interact with your co-workers in a non work-related manner.
Also, when a co-worker approaches your desk with a giant smile, asking if you want to participate in Secret Santa, you don’t want to be the one that says no. You want to be a team player. And it’s not like you’re spending a lot of money, anyway.
But then a few days pass, and you remember that you actually have to go out and buy the gift. You’ve probably already spent hundreds on presents already, and now you have to stroll into a Bed, Bath and Beyond to buy a lavender-scented Yankee Candle, or some type of scarf for somebody who you probably don’t even know too well.
It’s also troublesome to think of three gifts that you want for under $20. I can’t even think of anything I want when there is no spending limit, let alone that small of a sum. Inevitably, we all end up writing down some type of gift card that we don’t even really need.
And I didn’t even mention the worst part. There’s no payoff. One of the thrills of giving a gift is seeing the person’s reaction, and getting to exchange a hug with them, so they can show their appreciation. It’s not a selfish thing — it’s just a nice moment between two friends and a key part of the gift giving process.
With Secret Santa, you sneakily watch them open their present, and then just stand there like a moron. The funny thing is, everybody usually waits only like five minutes to tell the person it was them. Why even bother? Just put your name on the freaking tag. As a gift recipient, it’s also stressful not knowing who to share your thanks with.
Instead, you awkwardly say “thank you” to an entire roomful of people. And 10 minutes later, your Secret Santa party is over, and now you have to go Starbucks every morning for the next five days to exhaust your gift card.
There’s got to be other ways to promote office camaraderie, right?
Again, I’m never going to say no to Secret Santa, so the only way to avoid it is if the tradition ends altogether. So let’s just go ahead and do that.
Although, I must admit, Yankee Candles do smell like heaven in a bowl.