It’s no secret that I have a love-hate relationship with the social media site reddit. That being said, I participated – for my third consecutive year – in reddit’s online “Secret Santa” gift exchange program. I had a lot of fun with it, I enjoyed the gift I received and I know my “giftie” enjoyed their Chuck-bought gift.
The “Secret Santa” program works something like this. Person “A” bestows a gift to Person “B”, while Person “B” gives a gift to Person “C”. The giver does not have to reveal his or her identity; for all intents and purposes, that package they received could have come from 32° Snowflake Lane, North Pole, Arctic Circle.
There’s also a “rematching” program in the Secret Santa game. This happens when someone doesn’t receive a gift – example, Person “B” receives his gift from Person “A”, then decides he’s done, and Person “C” receives nothing. Essentially, Person “C” gets “shafted.” And that’s not good. Not at Christmastime.
That’s where “rematchers” come in. A “rematcher” sends a gift to person “C” – it’s like a “your Santa was an Ebeneezer-level Grinch, but I’m stepping in and doing what he should have done” moment. Redditors who participate in the Secret Santa program can be a rematch Santa for up to a maximum of three Redditors who received no gifts.
That’s easy and simple and it’s a nice gesture.
But what if I were to expand on that gesture – let’s say, expand on it a LOT?
I contacted the moderators of the r/secretsanta subreddit, asking what the record was for the most rematchings from a single rematch Santa. A moderator told me that the record for a personal rematcher was 15, although a business participated as a rematcher and gave gifts to 50 redditors.
Well, if that person can do 15, and if I keep things within a reasonable budget (I’m not giving away PlayStations, people), I could possibly – for one year only – be a rematcher for as many as twenty ungifted redditors. That, in addition to my original Secret Santa recipient, would make 21 gifts delivered this holiday season. Rev up the sleigh and find my reindeer! On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer, on Vixen – Prancer, get off Vixen, there’s no time for those kind of reindeer games!! 🙂
Once the Secret Santa gift exchange signup dates were announced, I immediately went to my redditgifts.com page and signed up for the exchange – as well as for the rematchings. Oh wait. There’s only a maximum of three rematchings on the sign-in pull-down menu.
No matter. A quick e-mail to the moderators… and I explained to them what I wanted to do.
Their response? They liked the idea, but just to make sure that I didn’t get overwhelmed, they wanted me to start with a smaller number of rematchings and then add more as needed. I agreed, and the next time I visited my Secret Santa page… I found I was now signed up to rematch 5 stiffed gifties.
The game begins.
First off, I have to participate in the main part of the Secret Santa game. That means I have to be a Santa first and a rematcher later. Santa matching day was December 1st. Thankfully, my giftie put down plenty of likes and dislikes on his inventory sheet – and one of the things he enjoys is beer.
Well, let’s see. I do play Monday night trivia at the Capital District’s best brew pub, Brown’s Brewing… and they’re offering a nice little gift package for the holidays… and they do ship nationwide…
So that’s what I did. I ordered a Brown’s gift box, featuring glassware, coasters, a growler, and a couple of T-shirts, and off the package went. And my giftie enjoyed the present. Okay. My “Santa” part of the game is done. Now I wait for “Rematching.”
Now in order to make this work, I have to plan ahead. The average Secret Santa gift should cost approximately $20, although some Redditors have gone above and beyond that total if they can afford to do so. I figured if I stuck to that $20/gift budget for rematching (again, not giving away any PlayStations, people), I should be fine. I would also make sure to have enough packing boxes (USPS Priority Mail boxes work wonders), along with tracking numbers for shipping. This is essential to the cause; I need to prove to the r/secretsanta moderators that my gifts were sent. The tracking numbers would help the giftie follow his/her package transit, and Reddit could see that I was a man of my word.
On January 1st, I received my first three gifties. And I immediately came up with some great gift ideas, while still keeping everything in a budget.
- Giftie No. 1 wants to visit Nova Scotia. So I sent that person a framed print of The Lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove.
- Giftie No. 2 loves things that involve astrophysics. Yep. A framed print of Star Trails at Brown Tract Pond.
- Giftie No. 3 appreciates flower arrangements. Oh good, here’s my print of All Hail the Yellow King! all ready for shipping.
- Giftie No. 4 is a big Star Wars fan. For him, I created “Movie Night,” which featured DVD’s of all six of the Star Wars movies, plus DVD’s of the “unaltered” movies (Han Solo shot first, damn it!). He didn’t post his gift afterward, but he e-mailed me and thanked me for the DVD’s.
- Giftie No. 5 appreciates music and color and non-fiction. So I found the perfect gift – a book on the history of colorful “picture discs” in music. Picture discs go back to the earliest days of 78 RPM records, and this book has some great imagery in it. Off you go, gift. She didn’t post her gift afterward, but she did e-mail me and thanked me for the gifts.
Five down, fifteen to go. On January 15, I received information on my next five shafted gifties. Time for more shopping and shipping.
- Giftie No. 6 is a fan of anything involving H.G. Wells. So let’s see… DVD copies of The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, as well as a DVD of one of my favorite time-travel movies, Time After Time… got him covered. And he was happy.
- Giftie No. 7 mods and builds computers. I saw his wishlist included an ocarina. For those of you who are not familiar with an ocarina, it’s an instrument that Link uses to open portals and doors and stuff in The Legend of Zelda videogame series. Took care of it. Giftie was excited.
- Giftie No. 8 enjoys tennis. For him, I shipped an autobiography of Andy Murray, the first Brit to win a Wimbledon singles title in over 75 years. And he definitely appreciated his gift.
- Giftie No. 9 wanted a comfy sweater, size women’s extra-small. Picked up a nice warm sweater at the L.L. Bean store in Colonie Center.
- Giftie No. 10 also wanted a sweater, and that person also enjoys working witrh LEGO. You know what? I still have one of those LEGO Mindstorm video cameras that you can plug into your LEGO pieces and upload images via a USB link. Into the box you go.
Halfway to the record. Ten down, ten to go.
On January 20, my next shipment of five stiffed gifties arrived in my e-mail box. Must complete my goal, no matter what.
- Giftie No. 11 wanted to learn French, and her favorite author is J.K. Rowling. Did you know that you can get French-language paperback versions of the Harry Potter books on Amazon? Yep. You can. And she will. And she was excited with her gift.
- Giftie No. 12 likes to scream at the television when his fantasy football team doesn’t perform up to snuff. Well, there’s a good reason for that. He doesn’t have any Pittsburgh Steelers Terrible Towels to wave around, and his fantasy team doesn’t have a Myron Cope autographed Pittsburgh Steelers souvenir helmet. And now he does. Yoi and Double Yoi! Oh, and in case he wasn’t a Steelers fan, I included a little book on the history of table-top “electric” football in the package.
- Giftie No. 13 is a member of Team Nikon. Has an FE and a 5200. And now he has some lomography film and – although I hate to part with it, I know that it needs more use in another person’s hands – my Kiev-MIR 20H fisheye lens, the one that crated Star Trails at St. Agnes Cemetery and Midnight at the Palace Theater. Enjoy your new home, my little lens. And I found out later that the giftie was super-excited about receiving the lens.
- Giftie No. 14 rolls tide. And by that I don’t mean that they push detergent down the hill. Giftie No. 14 actually plays football at the University at Alabama. And in that, I purchased a few books on the history of Alabama football, as well as a biography of the Crimson Tide’s greatest coach, Bear Bryant.
- Giftie No. 15 is a fan of the subreddit /r/trees. For those of you not in the know, /r/trees is neither about arboriculture nor woodworking. That being said, I shipped him some artwork, as well as a DVD of some Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. And he was greatly appreciative.
Wow. I’ve tied the record for the most rematchings by an individual in a single reddit exchange. Five more stiffed gifties, and I’ll have the Secret Santa rematchings record. Fifteen down, five more to go.
But something was bothering me. It’s now January 29, 2015 … what if the Secret Santa program ran its course for the year – there were new exchanges on the horizon – and I wouldn’t reach my goal of 20 rematchings in time?
Not to worry. The Reddit Secret Santa mods alerted me that although they had closed that exchange, they would manually add five more shafted gifties to my shopping list. Awesome. And when I woke up the next morning and checked my account… five more gifties who needed a Santa in their lives.
- Giftie No. 16 didn’t ask for much, but did provide a wishlist on Redditgifts.com. I looked over the list – oh, this is nice, a T-shirt that says “Dad? That’s a funny way to say Batman.” Got it for him.
- Giftie No. 17 is a fan of the video game Super Smash Bros. Thankfully, Giftie 17 provided a T-shirt size, and I found a T-shirt on Reddtigifts.com that would be perfect.
- Giftie No. 18 put down a wealth of wishes and wants on his shopping list, and I found one that he will certainly appreciate – a one-of-a-kind artwork featuring the lead character from the Assassin’s Creed video game series.
- Giftie No. 19 is a fan of Doctor Who (well, isn’t everybody?) and told the story about how she lost her cat Rory when her roommate sold the little kitten. Cruel. Bummers. Now I can’t get that cat back, but I understand why the cat was named Rory… maybe this T-shirt will help make the giftie feel better.
- And finally, Giftie No. 20. Same wish list as nearly every other Redditor, man if there was some way to make a Doctor Who / Assassin’s Creed / Walking Dead / Skyrim / Bacon / Firefly / Breaking Bad T-shirt… hey, wait a minute. This person wants to learn sign language? Oh that’s perfect! A quick zip over to Amazon and I sent an introductory book (and some flash cards) on learning ASL. Winner. Giftie appreciated it.
One final confirmation.
Redditors have a sidebar known as a “trophy case,” which chronicles when a redditor participates in an event (i.e., a meet-up, an exchange, how many years on reddit). Let’s put it this way. I now have this trophy in my trophy case.
Yep. I’m a redditgifts rematcher for Secret Santa 2014. And that “x20” at the end is proof of my accomplishment. Although eventually the computer reset my award to an “x3” rather than an “x20”, I was smart enough to get a screen capture of this little trophy. And with that… my rematching of 20 shafted gifties is complete.
And mind you, I’m not looking to surpass this record next year. However, I hope there are some redditors who see this and think to themselves, “Heck, if this guy can give 20 rematchings, I can do 25. Or maybe I’ll do 40, and double his record.”
If you can do it, go right ahead. Just don’t bite off more than you can afford. The admins were more than happy to let me try this, so long as I did things their way – a few rematchings at a time, and not to publicize that I’m doing it until after all the gifts have been shipped.
But if you are able to give, and if you can give for one extra rematching… that’s one more than would have received a gift that year.
And truly, isn’t that part of the holiday spirit anyways?