This year my friend group added Secret Santa with a twist to our annual Favourite Things Party. The twist was that all gifts for the exchange had to be something our inner 8 year olds would have wanted. The best part was that the toys would be making their way to kids in need the next day.
We all know by now that it’s better to give than receive but what made this Secret Santa with a twist even more enjoyable was that we were able to give, receive, and then give again. This, my friends, is the psychological equivalent of gift wrapping a megadose of serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. Bring on those happy hormones baby! Simply put the joy this brought to each of us in the lead up, during the event, and after has been immeasurable. I recommend you try this for yourselves and see.
Secret Santa with a Twist
Picking A Name
Picking a name out of a hat is great if you and your friend group are in close proximity, but can be challenging when you’re spread out across the miles. Thankfully this was an easy solve with drawnames.ca. You simply enter in all the names of those participating and send the link out to your friends.
Picking a Gift for Your Inner Kid
For our inaugural year doing this we decided that eight was a good age. In the days leading up to the party the excitement grew. It was fun trying to dive into the head of the person we picked and find the perfect gift. The goal was to truly capture the spirit of our inner 8 year olds. I’m happy to say, mission accomplished.
There’s little doubt in our minds that this will be an annual occurrence so next year we’ve decided to pick a teen year, as they are often missed in toy drives.
Picking a Budget
As with all Secret Santa exchanges, setting a budget is a good idea. We decided however to leave the amount spent up to each person. Some of us were able to be more generous, while others were feeling the current economic pinch a little more. At the end of the day it was all going to a good cause so we didn’t stress about it.
Collect Childhood Pictures
Ahead of our party I asked my friends to send me a picture of themselves when they were eight. I then placed them in a shared album on iPhoto. Not only was it sweet to look at but it also helped us get a sense of what the person we were buying for might have liked. For those that want to kick it up a notch, use your friend’s image to gift wrap their present.
When the time came to unwrap presents we drew names out of a jar, and as each name was called that person would go grab their gift and give it to the person it was purchased for. I knew that there would be a lot of laughter as we did this, but there were also a few nostalgic tears, and genuine gratitude.
Giving The Toys to Kids
There are a multitude of toy drives every year so finding one in your community should be easy. We decided to go with the Lights and Sirens Toy Drive in London, Ontario since one of our friends is dating a hunk ‘o burning love firefighter, and frankly, who can resist a firefighter?
Single ladies. I am in no way suggesting this is a good way to drop off the goods while simultaneously checking out the goods. Please, I’m not that tawdry.
At the end of the evening everyone was delighted with their gifts, but even more wonderful was the gratitude we felt having such wonderful friends. This Secret Santa with a twist was our chance to reconnect with our inner 8 year olds, have a little bit of fun, and help ensure kids in the here and now have the best Christmas. Now that’s a Christmas miracle.