The world's largest secret santa gift exchange

Now you can receive useless gifts all the way from China!

Jordan Zy

Halloween is officially over and we have nearly a month until Thanksgiving. We all know what that means: time to think about Christmas.

Everyone has their own favorite tradition for this holiday. Some adore the decorations and others love complaining about Christmas music, but one of my favorites is the Reddit Online Secret Santa Gift Exchange.

If you’re not familiar with the Secret Santa game, allow me to explain. This game is usually celebrated with a group of friends. Each person is assigned the name of another person for whom they will find the perfect gift. The goal is to give your giftee a present without revealing your identity to them.

In 2009, a group of users from Reddit.com (a recreational website hosting links of anything from funny cat pictures to breaking news articles) created an online version of Secret Santa. It grew rapidly over the next four years, reaching 89,421 worldwide participants in 2013. It currently holds the Guinness World Record for largest secret gift exchange, having topped its own record from the year before.

How does this game work online? After making an account and providing a little information about your likes or dislikes, you’ll be assigned to a completely random stranger. You can read their bios and learn about them by searching across the Internet to find the perfect gift idea. This may be the only situation where poor internet privacy pays off in your favor.

Finally, you send your gift through the mail and in turn receive a gift from someone else. Everyone is encouraged to take pictures of their presents to share online. While it may seem easy to abuse the system, many IP addresses are banned for life for not sending anything, and every exchange offers a re-gifting for those who receive nothing from their Secret Santa.

I’ve participated in the Secret Santa Gift Exchange for the last three years and I love it. One year I received a leather-bound journal with handmade paper and a Hufflepuff scarf (Hufflepuffs are great finders). Another year I was given the Mass Effect Trilogy Edition for PlayStation 3. In my previous article “Misplaced adoration?”, you may have seen a framed picture of Leonardo DiCaprio. This is my latest loot. This one came as a particular surprise, as I had never said I liked Leo in my profile.

What really takes me by surprise is how much I end up loving the giving more than the receiving part of the exchange. Seeing my giftee upload their pictures of the stuff I gave them, and how happy they are to get it, warms my heart. It fills me with the sense of—if I may be cliché—the true meaning of Christmas.

If you’d like to participate, sign-ups will be open until right before Thanksgiving break. Go to redditgifts.com to get started. The site is so well done that even if you have no clue what to buy your giftee, it has its own online store with great suggestions for them. If the Christmas Exchange really impresses you, you can also participate in all sorts of year-round gift exchanges. I once did a book exchange and received some Batman comics (which rocked), and a sock exchange (which did not rock). Without a doubt, the Secret Santa Gift Exchange remains the biggest and best every year.

Jordan is a senior studying psychology.