Secret Santa


My Trip Home (12/24 – 12/28)

A blizzard wasn’t exactly what I was looking forward to when I went home this past weekend but it sure made things interesting.

The drive down there Friday afternoon was really good since I guess not too many people drive down to the United States on Christmas Eve. The border, which didn’t have too many cars, ended up costing me over an hour because I was classified under “Document Control” which required further inquiry on their end. It turns out that since I am no longer actively residing in the US, I will need to apply for USCIS – I-131, Application for Travel Document or otherwise risk losing my permanent resident status. A slightly confusing point was the agent telling me I need to apply for any travel over 6 months (which will be in January for me) but the application instructions say the permit is required once you have elapsed over 1 year. I figure I should get that cleared up as soon as possible since I am traveling to Boston in February.

It was good to see our new house fully furnished for the first time and I did sleep in my bedroom for the first time as well. The huge driveway, which is quite useful for the tons of relatives that come to visit, is also a very big pain to clean storms that dump 18” of snow on you. My mom had prepared lots of good food which obviously included Kofta (of course) but we ended up eating out most of the days – Popeyes, Chicken Guy, Kabab Paradise and Sun Tavern. Let it be known for the record however, I did not leave New Jersey without eating Kofta at least twice – because that would have been unacceptable on my part.

I was hoping to see a lot more friends from high school on Monday but the blizzard took care of that. However, the day wasn’t a complete waste as roads cleared up a little so I saw a couple of friends from Milltown before wheeling and dealing decisions took place to relocate the 222 Secret Santa Tres over to Justin’s house so Jolly White Giant could also grace us with his presence because 30” of snow is too much for him to drive in. I will also neither deny nor confirm the fact that a vast majority of that time was spent playing/yelling/screaming at Mario Kart.

Work is pretty light again this week as we all anticipate/dread the YE stuff to start next week. One coworker next to me answered her phone this morning by saying, “Alien Headquarters, Guadalajara. How can I help you?” – all in joking of course, we don’t really host reception services for the Alien HQ… as far as I know.


Reddit Runs International Secret Santa 2

It’s no surprise the economy is shrinking and so is the number of presents under most people’s trees but thanks to one Web site, nearly 3,000 people will have one special surprise from someone they’ve never met before. The members of Reddit.com, a Web site where users share links to breaking news stories, photos and more, have gathered together in what they believe is the biggest secret Santas ever and I participated in the event along with a roommate of mine, both of us who have been members of the site for a couple of years now.

The idea started simply enough, with one member “kickme444” asking if anyone was interested in a gift exchange and, like most social media, the idea exploded in just days. I am really excited to see the idea take off and see some of the press coverage it has received over the past week or so including the ABC article and CBC clip I have attached at the bottom of the post.

Kickme444 and members of the site designed a site, wrote programming to match up givers to receivers and come December packages will arrive from around the country and possibly around the world. Unofficially 3,500 participants are from the United States, but the rest of the 1,000 members hail from 53 other countries varying from Canada to Australia to Japan and beyond.

The current Guinness Book record holder for the largest secret Santa is more than 1,500 people, held by the staff at UK’s pharmacy chain store Boots. This exchange is set to double the number and smash the record.

This Secret Santa is unique in its relative anonymity. When signing up, Redditors could volunteer information about themselves and participants can look at their recipient’s past comments to get an idea of their interests and personality.

Suggested value of gift and shipping is around $15 but so far the average gift has cost about $27 with another $10 spent on shipping. The organizers have stated, “Handmade awesomeness is suggested, thoughtfulness is required!” Some are opting for homemade gifts – original art, photos, mix CDs, pepper seeds or items unique to their area. Discussion of ideas and requests have been flying on the site for the past few weeks.

Initially I did not know what to get as a present for my Secret Santee as he had very limited participation on the community site but a submitted form allowed everyone to enter some items they are interested and it listed a couple of television shows they were interested in and they wanted a poster from those shows. That made my

Gifts were scheduled be shipped out by Dec. 10 and assuming plenty of redditors are procrastinators, a lot of gifts including mine were shipped out on the last date. Upon receiving the gift, community members have begun posting photos of their present on a thread for Reddit Gifts for the rest to see.

Another noteworthy piece from an ABC affiliate out in Seattle titled “Web Site Runs Elaborate Secret Santa Gift Exchange“.