Monday, December 22, 2014

I Participated in the World's Largest Secret Santa Gift Exchange

On this little place called the internet, there is a strange and mysterious place called reddit. It's a website that is really hard to explain. It is kind of like an anonymous Facebook meets Pinterest meets news site meets discussion forum. It's a website for everything. Because it is so hard to explain, I'll let CGP Grey from YouTube explain for me in this very informative video:

So, now that you know what the heck reddit is, I can explain reddit's amazing Secret Santa gift exchange. I believe that the Secret Santa event started on reddit around 5-8ish years ago, and over time it has exploded into this massive, crazy thing. Here's a TED talk about how the world's largest Secret Santa was created by the creator himself. The video is about 16 minutes long (just warning you), but I found it really interesting.

The main concept is you sign up with the site, fill out a likes/dislikes section, and answer a few questions about yourself like "What's your favorite color?" or "What is your favorite author or book?" or "What's your favorite movie?" for example. Then you wait until matching day. This year matching day was on December 1st. Some random person will get matched with you, read your info, and "friendly stalk you" online. Meanwhile, you have your own match. (Which is not the same person matched with you.)

The suggested amount to spend on your giftee is around $25 not including shipping, but there are people that go way above and beyond (you'll know if you watched the TED talk above). So if you're lucky you'll get matched with a rich person or celebrity. This year's Secret Santa had Bill Gates, Snoop Dogg, and Alyssa Milano among others participating, which is beyond cool.

My own giftee was actually not one person but an entire family of eight people. Six kids! Not exactly a follower of the rules. I much rather would've preferred someone that I could have "friendly stalked" with some interesting interests, but you get what you get. My giftee didn't really fill out their likes/dislikes section either, which left me irritated and annoyed. But, by God, once my brain starts going, the creativity comes out. I opted for a pieced together "family night in" kit. I got all the stuff needed for s'mores, a box of popcorn, a tin of Swiss Miss hot cocoa, a Pictionary card game, a giant Mad-Libs book, and after a quick message to my giftee for information, I got everyone's favorite candy. I was also able to pick up some of these cool Christmas party cracker things for the kids at TJMaxx. To make it more fun I wrapped everything. Even the bag of marshmallows, because be honest... who doesn't like ripping open gifts? I spent around $45. Not bad for gifting to an entire family of eight people.

On your match page on, you are provided with your giftee's address. You must also ship your gift out by a specific date. This year's ship by date was December 19th. I, of course, procrastinated until the very last day. I really hope that my giftee and his family are happy with the gifts.

Anyway, I actually received my gift from my Secret Santa today. They sent me a color changing constellations mug, of which I used almost immediately for a nice cup of chamomile mint tea. Mmmmm. In case you were wondering, I absolutely love me a cup of hot tea. (I apologize for the terrible image quality. These were taken with my phone. Horrible from a self proclaimed photographer, I know.)

 Also included in my Secret Santa box was an envelope with a card. Inside was a note and an Amazon gift card for $10. Remember earlier where I said something about "friendly stalking?" This is where that came into play. My Secret Santa mentioned in their note about using the gift card to buy books for my new Kindle, which I'm sure they found out by searching my reddit history. I had recently posted in the /r/Kindle subreddit about my new Kindle and how excited I was about it. It is really nice to see such a thoughtful/quirky gift.

Overall, I'd say that the whole reddit Secret Santa has been a positive experience. I really enjoyed getting creative and shopping for a complete stranger (or in my case a family of strangers). Plus, I get the advantage of possibly being a Guinness World Record holder. Once they get the final numbers and counts in, it will be the world's official largest Secret Santa gift exchange. And that is cool. I will for sure be participating again.

Just in case you were curious and wanted to learn more, check out the /r/SecretSanta subreddit on reddit. In addition to Secret Santa, they also have various other gift exchanges throughout the year including smaller themed exchanges and another big one called Arbitrary Day. So you don't even have to wait all the way until next year!

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