Have you ever participated in a Secret Santa, or as we call it in my office, a Secret Snowflake? Briefly, the tradition goes that a group chooses names out of a hat and receives the name of another participant. Whoever’s name that you choose is the person you will get a small gift for. Then, at a predetermined date, everyone will receive their gifts and find out the identity of their Secret Santa.
I do not know so many people at my office on a personal level and I chose the name of someone who I am unsure of what to get. The tradition at my office is that the recipient of the gift has to open the gift in front of the group and guess the identity of their Secret Santa. This ritual can be a little awkward if the participating group is not very intimate, i.e. like a group of coworkers.
I picked the name of a coworker who I do not know on a personal level. At this point I could do one of two things: 1. go for a generic gift, or 2. try to learn more and find something more personal. I opted for number 2. I naturally ventured to Facebook as my first point of research. Much of what I learned was superficial—relationship status, political affiliation, recent trips taken, etc. Also, there seemed to be many inside jokes. While I could have easily gotten a gift related to one of these jokes, even I know that that would have been creepy.
Without any real leads on Facebook, I’m tempted to go for option one, something generic, as my contribution to the secret snowflake event. There are some classic gifts that I have given in similar situations in the past—usually some food item works well. I personally like giving “hot chocolate sets” which come complete with a mug, cocoa, and marshmallows. I’m running out of creativity for these things.
I think I’m missing the point of Secret Santa events. While I’m sure that they are done with the intention to bring people together and put everyone into the holiday spirit, I can’t help feeling a little stressed about having to find a gift for someone. I really just want to find a special gift that brings the recipient joy, but with limited knowledge, it will be hard to do so. Normal people would probably just strike up a conversation with the coworker in question to uncover their interests. Normal people would probably look forward to the unveiling of the Secret Santas at the office holiday party. Normal people have it so easy.
If my ultimate goal is to find a meaningful gift, then I guess that means that I will have to go for option two and make a true effort (outside of social media) to find out more about my coworker. This means that I will have to *gasp* socialize at the office more and, perhaps, speak about personal subjects with my office mates. If you are reading this right now and think that I sound like a lunatic—bless your beautiful, extrovert soul.
The holidays are meant to bring people together and to bring us joy. These things should be simple, if they’re not, then, perhaps we are just overthinking them. I don’t know yet what I gift I will find for the Secret Snowflake event, but I will try my best to enjoy the process and care less about the outcome.
The holiday season is here, Dear Reader, enjoy it while it lasts!