Secret Santa: SCO's guide to gift-giving

Dec. 20, 2012, 7:04 p.m. | By Rachel Auerbach Stacy Mathew | 9 years, 7 months ago

When in doubt, give them food

It's that time of year again! What time of year, you ask? It's Secret Santa season (Secret Snowflake, to be politically correct). We've all been in the same awkward situation: a club, class or seemingly random group of people decides to organize a gift exchange. They say $20 limit, but for students, it's more like a "spending more than three dollars is not-gonna-happen" limit. You pull a name out of a hat... never heard of that person? Don't fret; your Secret SCOflake experts are here to guide you on your journey to a perfect and cheap (read: free) gift-giving experience.

Secret Santa Do's

Baked goods
Everyone likes food. Well, unless it's something nasty. If you follow a recipe, you can't go wrong with something simple like holiday cookies. If baking isn't your thing, you can simply grab a box of cookies from the grocery store and transfer them to a bag to make it seem like they're homemade. In terms of other food options, candy (gummy worms or bears) is a good choice. And if the person you're gifting to somehow lacks a sweet tooth, you can bring them Chipotle. Don't know what they would want on their burrito? "YOLO" it and just get everything. If you do gift food, however, make sure that your recipient doesn't have any food allergies. You don't want to send anyone to the Emergency Room this holiday season. Talk about awkward.

Photo: Hallmark sells potential holiday gifts, but we know you can do better than that. Photo courtesy of Danny Rosenberg.

While we're on the subject, what does CVS stand for anyways? Never mind. It doesn't matter. The point is that CVS is a great choice if it's the night before your gift exchange and you've got nothing. Pick up some nail polish, make up, magazines or candy. We've heard that they even sell shoes (but don't actually buy CVS shoes for your recipient).

Re-gifting gets a bad reputation, but really, there's nothing wrong with it. As they say, "one man's trash is another man's treasure." That ugly sweater that your aunt (bless her heart) got you for your last birthday? Some hipster's dream come true. What about those insanely huge earrings that have never been worn? The perfect addition to a budding psychic reader's collection. But if you do re-gift, make sure that whatever piece of trash you are giving is in one piece and in relatively good condition.

Used Books
This is only applicable if you're gifting to a reader. If not, they might use the book as scrap paper. However, if they are a bookworm, used books can be a cheap and thoughtful gift. Take an old book of yours or go to a library book sale. To be safe, get a few so that one of them will inevitably work with your recipient's taste.

Secret Santa Don'ts

Gift Cards
While a gift card is the most practical gift, there's nothing like handing one of these cards to your friend/classmate/vague acquaintance with a smile on your face that reads "I don't know you, and I don't care about you enough to go out and buy a genuine gift." Also, you usually have to spend more than $15 dollars on a gift card. In this economy, it's just not practical.

Photo: Furbies are a terrible gift. No exceptions. Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Stuffed Animals
Honestly, how does one benefit from a stuffed animal? They take up space, gather dust and eventually lose their stuffing. While many people think stuffed animals are a cute gift, especially for girls, they are wrong. Plus, some of them are just plain creepy. No one wants to wake up at night with a Furby's beady eyes staring into their soul. Unless you are someone's significant other, you should not be giving stuffed animals.

Regifting is one thing...
…But let's not get ratchet. If you are going to give someone something that you currently own, please make sure there are no tears, bite marks, strange scents or stains on it. Take, say, a rusty silver necklace with a broken pendant. While some may argue that it's vintage, we would conclude that the giver does not know the true meaning of the holidays and wants their recipient to develop a rash around their neck.

Good Luck!

The joys and burdens that Secret Santa brings are completely understandable, and we hope that these tips inspire you not to buy someone a gift card to a generic store but instead go out and get them (or make them) something that shows your holiday spirit.

Tags: Christmas gifts Secret Santa secret snowflake

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