Skip to main content

Secret Santa Etiquette


At workplaces all over Australia – nay, the world – there will be Secret Santas or Kris Kringels in the coming two weeks; two names for the same quaint workplace ritual. It's where one secretly pick a co-worker's names out of a hat and buy that person a gift - up to a certain agreed upon value. The point is to be creative and buy within the price limit and to not admit it was you who bought the gift for the giftee.

At Media Dell’Arte this year our price limit was doubled from five to ten dollars. Last week we had the Secret Santa exchange at our annual Christmas lunch. In years past, there have been controversial presents that led to recriminations (sometimes lasting a whole twelve months). If the gift is a little vague or inappropriate then that can lead to all kinds of speculation as to the actual meaning of the gift and the identity of the giver. Frankly, I believe this harms workplace relations and cuts into valuable drinking and merriment time.

However, if you really want to dent workplace relations, do what I did.

However for dramatic purposes, I must flashback before we continue. This year I’m a little strapped for cash, so I have to make cuts. For example, recently I was found a great Secret Santa gift and strongly considered buying it for myself, but instead bought it for my intended giftee.

I was seized by a “pay-it-forward” mood. Deny myself this gift, I thought, and give it to one who might enjoy it more than I would. I found myself to be very noble for having these sentiments. And I was saving money. My co-worker Big Red will confirm all of this, if asked.

So flash forward to the Secret Santa lunch. My noble gift had been given and it went over okay. And I had received my gift – goggle eyeglasses – you know, the glasses frames with the eyes hanging out on springs.

After the drinking had gone on for about two hours, one of my co-workers took a liking to these, so I suggested that she could have them as a gift from me.

Yes, some of you are way ahead of me at this point. I was all glistening and Yuletide-y with my Pay It Forward 'tude and my Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All.

But I didn't think about the person who had bought this particular gift, I was actually re-gifting it right under her very nose. Pretty recklessly gutsy, eh? That’s the kind of guy I am.

And I know it was a she who bought the gift, because she ‘fessed up immediately after my generous act and let me know that she had actually spent more than the Secret Santa price limit. She took it quite well, I must say. Better than me, anyway. Hence this confessional blog.

Later that evening I received a mysterious MMS. It was my Secret Santa re-gift, lying there on a pub table. It was all a little sinister.

Mind how ye go in the next two weeks Kris Kringellers – and learn from my tale.

Elevate the Insignificant,

Mr Trivia


Popular posts from this blog

What's with George Eads' Hair? & David Edwards

Hey Zeitgeisters,

Bet you thought this blog would never top “What’s with Bradley Whitford’s Hair?” For those of you who weren’t part of that historical blog entry, it was the glittering moment where I wondered what’s with West Wing star Bradley Whitford’s hair. Good times.

However, tonight, while watching the current series (in Australia) of CSI :Original Recipe, I was forced to witness the unpleasantness of George Eads’ new(ish) 'do and I felt compelled to blog on’t.

George plays the part of Nick Stokes and has spent some 5 or 6 seasons with a haircut “you could set your watch to,” as Grandpa Simpson might say. It was always short; it always had that US Marine Corps vibe; it was always as dependable as the ebbing and flowing of the tides.

Now in something of an El Nino effect, I note that someone in Jerry Bruckheimer’s organization has decided to mess with the length of George’s crowning glory.

Although I chiefly watch CSI waiting for Grissom…

What’s with Bradley Whitford’s Hair?

Okay, Zeitgeisters, that’s as shallow an attention-grabbing start as one could ever want, but I really want to know. And sure, I’m really talking about Josh Lyman’s hair. (I’m like one of those people who insist on calling an actor by their character’s name – only in reverse. e.g. “Go Knight Boat!”)

Whitford plays Deputy Chief of Staff, Josh Lyman, in the Aaron Sorkin-created, NBC television series The West Wing. He plays this part to a tee and now he’s set to do great things in the new Sorkin drama, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I know this last bit because the Angriest Ex-Video Store Clerk in the world told me.

Oh, and Whitford’s married to the awesome Jane Kaczmarek who plays mom, Lois, in the series Malcolm in the Middle. So Mr Whitford’s your regular pop-cultural icon and yardstick for excellence. We’re here in this, frankly, puzzling cultural landscape, because I’ve just finished watching season four of The West Wing on DVD. And Josh Lyman’s hair has bothered me throughout. It’s…


When I was in Primary School back in the 1970s in Western Australia, I went to a school that taught reading comprehension in all the usual ways but also used an American teaching aid that we referred colloquially as SRA cards, but an hour or research on the ol’ internet has persuaded me that I was, in fact, one of millions of Gen X (and 2nd Wave Baby Boomers) who encountered the SRA Reading Laboratory Kit. 

SRA was Scientific Research Associates a Chicago based publisher of Educational materials (thank you Wikipedia). But their tautologically named teaching aid was kick-ass for a word nerd like myself. I recall it as a box stuffed with cards. Each card had a short segment of writing on it and then some comprehension questions. You’d answer the questions on a separate sheet they provided and if you were correct you got to move on to the next card. This was self-paced learning at its best as far as I was concerned.

Boring, si? NO! Because the genius part was this – the whole system wa…