Scoring With Secret Santa


As my folks are spending Christmas in Cairns with my sister we celebrated our Devereaux family fun this weekend. As a result we’ve had a wonderful time at my parent’s place with my brother and his family. Master19 and his beautiful partner, Frances, came up for the day, making it even more special.

A hotly contested Secret Santa item yesterday was this bell (for obvious  reasons). Actually hotly contested might be over stating it, but in any case I wanted it. Other desirables were a bbq tray for cooking sausages (worked not at all today at the park) and a Where’s Willy (as opposed to g-rated Where’s Wally) book. Come to think of it there was a large chocolate block with the Where’s Willy book and maybe the girls were after that – that does seem more true to form.

Because there’s so many kids in our families (8, excluding Master19 who is included in the adult group now), every adult buys for one child so the kids each get a present – we set a budget of $40 a gift – but it doesn’t break the budget. For the adults we set a $10 budget for a present for the game of Secret Santa, meaning each person spent a total of $50 on gifts for the weekend.

Picking and trading presents in our Secret Santa can take an hour to get through a mere eight gifts, but it’s one of the highlights of the get together.

And now the ‘pleasure bell’ has pride of place beside my bed. Thank you Santa!

One of the kids misread the writing on the bell yesterday and asked me if it says ‘ring for six.’ To be honest I don’t care whether Tracey chooses sex or a six pack – either way I’ll drift off to sleep happy 🙂

How we play Secret Santa:

1. Weeks ahead an amount is agreed upon as the maximum which can be spent of each gift. Keeping the amount low is the key to ensuring some ingenuity and a sense of humour is used in purchasing the gift – an expensive Blu-ray player might be a swell gift to receive but a cheap husband remote controller will get more chuckles, so cheap budgets are better.
2. All participants purchase one gift and wrap it, arriving at the function and putting their offering into the center of the table. I have Tracey buy, wrap and place mine. Afterall, someone has to focus on remembering to bring the beer.
3. Number bits of paper from one to how ever many people are participating, and everyone draws a number out of a hat. Watch for cheats at this point as everyone will want number 1. A good way to ensure no sneaks take advantage and sneakily get it is to sneakily get it yourself. I recommend simply not adding it to the hat and then pretending to pull it out. Remember, you’re not cheating, your stopping others from cheating.
4. Starting with number one (you, refer to step 3), everyone gets to pick a wrapped gift from the center of the table, or alternately, if someone has unwrapped something they fancy, they can forego picking a wrapped present and steal it off them. When this happens the person who has lost their gift can now likewise either steal an unwrapped present off someone or pick a still wrapped gift from the middle. Once a gift has been stolen in a round, it can’t be restolen until the next round. The stealing of gifts is where the real fun comes into play. I steal gifts I don’t want just to upset the cart of apples – not the bell though: I wanted the bell.
5. Once all the gifts are unwrapped and everyone has a present there is one final opportunity for stealing, with the person who had number one (You.Yay!) given the chance to steal what they want. This is usually a hotly contested round, with people trying to be sneaky and making their gift less obvious if they don’t want it taken, or people trying to talk up their gift and encourage someone to take it off their hands. Strategy is rife with couples too, because once a present is stolen it can’t be swapped again, so it isn’t unusual for a husband to steal their wife’s gift to secure it.

For the record, I didn’t steal the bell off Tracey and neither did she steal it off me to secure it for us. She went for the cheese knives. I’m trying not to read too much into that.

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Above – my brother Shane gets to use his Secret Santa score for our breakfast at the park, only to find it doesn’t work real well. Later we worked out it’s actually for cooking snags on BBQ grills. Should have gone for the bell, Shanus. Sucker!


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