‘tis the Season: whether secret, savvy or silly, gift giving makes spirits bright

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Photo Illustration: Gita Raman

Sophomore Calla Saunders likes the personal touch of Secret Santa gift exchanges with friends: “I really like it when I’m giving a gift to someone I know well so I can make it personal,” she said.

Gitanjali Raman, Online Managing Editor

Gift exchange are an enjoyable time for friends and family to get together and bond over funny and wacky presents.  There are several ways to maximize the gift exchange experience beyond a list of names and ideas from every friend and family member.

Secret Santa

Secret Santa gift givers are all about keeping their identity a surprise as they drop little gifts to their friend… maybe with a hint to their name.  It has evolved with the modern age, though some choose to stick with the traditional way of hand picking names out of a container.

“I like secret Santa!  I haven’t been able to guess because I haven’t gotten any clues yet [for this year’s gift exchange],” senior Calla Saunders said.

It’s always funny to see what everyone’s reaction to their gift is.”

— freshman Bejamin Atmore

“[It was more accessible], and everyone was all together, rather than simply being connected over the Internet,” freshman Benjamin Atmore said.

Elfster

Online sites, such as Elfster, accomplish the same task, but provide some bonuses. The Elfster is an online gift exchange site. Elfster  started with Secret Santa but also does gift exchanges for charities, Hanukkah, and Eid among others.

Elfster allows members to organize, randomly assign names, and create wish lists. It is incredibly easy to use because everything is located in one space. Users or “honorary elves” can create a wish list on the site from hundreds of the best online places to shop, including Amazon. Once a gift is purchased, a user can easily mark it off their fellow elf’s wish list without them knowing.

“I’m probably going to sound like some sort of secret Elfster marketing specialist here, but I really like using the site because it automatically assigns names, so you can’t pick yourself or forget who you have,” Saunders said.

An additional bonus of Elfster is its anonymity. “You can anonymously follow wish lists, so even if you get paired with someone you don’t know, you can get them a present you know they’ll appreciate.”

White Elephant

White Elephant offers a smorgasbord of (previously given) gifts. This gift exchange is completely random and no one knows who is going to receive what gift.

“I think it would be fun to try another type, but secret Santa is like a guaranteed success because everyone focuses on one other person, and getting that person a good gift.  With white elephant, people get stuck with things that weren’t meant for them and it’s not as enjoyable,” Saunders said.

With white elephant, people get stuck with things that weren’t meant for them and it’s not as enjoyable”

— Calla Saunders

The Allure

Why participate in exchanges when you can just buy gifts for friends?

Saunders enjoys specifically buying one hilarious or practical gift for her friends.

Atmore agrees with Saunders.

“It’s between friends who all know you pretty well, so you don’t get bum gifts,” Atmore said, “and it’s always funny to see what everyone’s reaction to their gifts is.”

Joy of Giving

“I really like it when I’m giving a gift to someone I know well so I can make it personal,” Saunders said.

Another gift exchange, another memorable experience. Saunders has participated in many gift exchanges, but her favorite gift (so far) came from senior Emma Taussig.

“Emma Taussig gave me a giant Ferrero Rocher with a ton of tiny ones inside of it. That was legendary and delicious,” she said.