Secret Santa

Engsiong Tan
3 min readDec 21, 2022


Or why my version is better

When I heard about the subject of Secret Santa, I feel that the company or organization wants to save on the money and time of buying presents. And then blame the victims for any unhappiness. For my readers that never played the game, you are supposed to buy a gift for a colleague. If you are lucky, the colleague is known to you. If not, it is just a collection of presents that you can buy within the budget. Then there is a lucky draw to pick a present. Or an unlucky draw if your present sucks.

Photo by Taisiia Shestopal on Unsplash

My Version

You only compile the naughty list. You use whatever means possible. Elf on the shelf. Tattling by siblings. I draw the line at searching through their personal belongings. Using gossips at the watercooler is acceptable. The main purpose is to make the gift recipient stays in line. Or out of your hair. Whichever you prefer. The best part is that you can still blame the victim for not being a good child.

If you are kinder, you can regift. That is finding something that other people gave you that you did not throw away. Then save the present for a person that is too nice to be snubbed but not important enough to get a present for. If you are too lazy even to look for a suitable gift, you can just wrap up any junk and call it a joke. Or call it recycling for those recipients that are friends of the environment.

Gift Cards

Gift cards used to be my favourite solution. Cash was a little too upfront. Plus there was a nudging of the recipient to frequent my favourite shops or cafes. Unfortunately, companies like Borders kept going bust spoiling all the fun. Moreover, many companies like to either change location or change the terms and condition of redeeming the gift cards.

Why the fuss

Now some readers will wonder why am I not able to get into the holiday mood. This time my secret Santa game went online. The recipient could specify what they wanted. My recipient really took this feature to heart. And upload a wishlist with twenty over points. The points also included specifications. My humour evaporated when I saw the length of the list. My faith in humanity died at point fifteen and I stopped reading. (Big mistake)

I follow the saying presents should come with ribbons and not strings. Now I really felt the need to use strings to constraint the recipient. Or at least her expectation. Yes, it was a lady. If it was a guy, I would give alcohol or some adult vices in the price range and forget about it. But women are a touchy problem. The previous time I played secret Santa, I gave flowers. Of course me being me, I choose to give the flowers before it even bloom or germinated. Now before anyone accuse me of being to cheap, I made sure that the seed came with a pot, soil and instructions. Upon looking back, I hope the girl did not water the plant with her tears.

The downside of being specific is that the presents become very pragmatic. It is like shopping online except now the concierge is the secret Santa. Remember that I stopped reading after point fifteen? The last point had the shipping address. In the traditional spirit, I sent the gift to the work address. After all, nobody ever asked for the secret Santa’s delivery service.