Secret Santa Problems
Every year at the bank, we have a Secret Santa gift exchange. For those of you unfamiliar with this tradition, Wikipedia defines it as follows: “Secret Santa is a Western Christmas tradition in which members of a group or community are randomly assigned a person to whom they give a gift. The identity of the gift giver is a secret not to be revealed.” I really enjoy this tradition because it helps bring the staff closer as a team, and is a fun event. However, I am a terrible Secret Santa. Lucky for me I married a woman who looks out for me and is a great Secret Santa.
2017 is no exception. Together Joanne and I looked over the list of potential gift ideas and made what I thought were great choices. I went downstairs to the basement to retrieve a holiday bag to dress up the present. Bags are much easier than wrapping a gift, and are reusable! When the time came for the gifts to be distributed, I saw the person pick up the bag I brought and say “This one is for Tom.” But no it wasn’t, it was for the co-worker and I was supposed to be Santa. Secret Santa. I tried to hide the panic I felt in my stomach. The co-worker’s name was actually on the other side of the bag, and it was painfully obvious that I had re-used a bag that I received last year.
My Secret Santa status was no longer a secret. Embarrassing, but everyone else got a good laugh. Fast forward to week #2. This week I double checked both sides of the gift bag before discretely placing it under the bank Christmas tree. I was determined to continue the game, even though I was no longer a “secret” Santa. When it was time to hand out the gifts, there was one missing. We went through and accounted for all the participants except the person I was buying for. Since we all already knew that my secret was no longer a secret, I was again forced to come up with an explanation. But I had none.
After talking it out with the staff, we determined that the only logical explanation was that it got mixed in with the gifts we donated to a family in need through the Ankeny Service Center. Now I was faced with a different dilemma: do I just let it go and give the family another donation or go to the Service Center and ask for it back? The Service Center was not handing out the gifts until the next day, and the gifts for my Secret Santa recipient were probably not the right fit for the family in need. Swallowing any amount of pride I had left, I got in my car to explain to the volunteers at the Service Center that I needed to get a gift back.
As small business owners and managers, Christmas can either be wonderful or a potentially stressful time. For retailers it can mean the difference between a successful year and a year of worrying about cash flow. For others it can be stressful knowing just the right way to say thank you to customers and employees. We do not want to look too extravagant or too cheap. Perception either way can be harmful.
My advice is to be thankful for the gifts that we are given and are able to give. I believe that it is the thought that counts and if any gift is given with sincerity, it will be received warmly. If we are on the receiving end, we should appreciate the fact that the giver thought us worthy of the gift and be thankful.
At the Service Center, the volunteers were more than kind and understanding. Yes they got a laugh from my story of woe, but they were also able to retrieve the gift bag with minimal effort. With help from Joanne, next year I am going to be a great Secret Santa, and the recipient won’t be able to guess it was me until the end. Pending any bag mix ups.