Cherishing the Not-So-Secret Santa System
Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone, so we are now officially in the midst of the holiday season. I’m going to jump right in with a gift-giving tip for you and your friends that is guaranteed to make Christmas shopping more fun.
See, the Women Who Run With the Moose (that’s me and my friends, Celeste, Rita, Betty, Dot, and Shirley) have known each other since God was in diapers, so it may surprise you to learn that we do not exchange gifts at Christmas.
Us girls take a more practical approach to gift giving. We call it the “Not-So-Secret Santa.” This is based on the Secret Santa routine, which a lot of people do at work. You’ve heard of Secret Santa, haven’t you? That’s when you draw names, and then you buy someone you don’t know very well (or it could be someone you don’t even like), something they don’t want. That, in our opinion, is a waste of time and money.
So we invented the Not-So-Secret Santa. Here’s how it works. First, we decide on a dollar amount. This is based on how much we would spend on the average gift for each other: say, $30. Then we multiply it by five, which is how many gifts we would each have to buy. Like if I were to spend $30 each on Celeste, Rita, Betty, Dot, and Shirley, that’s $150. So we agree on that as the total dollar amount.
Then we all go to Bangor for a day of shopping. The deal being, we each have to spend $150 — on ourselves! That way we get exactly what we want, and instead of getting five little things, you can get one or two big things. Plus, we have the fun of spending the day together, shopping. See? It’s a win/win.
The rules are: You have to spend it all to within $5, give or take. You have to spend it on yourself, not something for the house (like a mop or a dust-buster). And you have to wrap it up and put it under the tree, to open Christmas morning. There are exceptions to that last one. If there’s a special Christmas party, or a December wedding, and you bought something that would be perfect for it, you’re allowed to wear your new outfit. But after the shindig, you have to wrap it up and put it under the tree. On Christmas morning, when you unwrap the present, you’re supposed to act surprised and say something like, “Oh my God! This is just what I wanted. How did the girls know?”
I highly recommend the Not-So-Secret Santa plan. Do it with your group of friends. And if they make you do the Secret Santa at work, for God’s sake, suggest it to your boss. If your boss won’t go for it, maybe you can all chip in your Secret Santa money and chose a charity to send it to. This is a much better use of your money then the alternative. Listen, I have a re-gifting shelf in my catch-all closet that is just plumb chuck-a-full of Secret Santa gifts I don’t want, like a battery-operated personal fan, for instance, or a patchouli-scented candle. (Well, to be honest, I put the candle directly into a box in the shed that we have going for our next yard sale. It just stinks up the closet too much.)
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
(Listen to the podcast of Ida's column here.)