Let’s establish this right away: I am no Scrooge.
I love Christmas. I love virtually everything about it: the good cheer; the carols; ‘Fairytale of New York’; eating loads; rewatching the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special for the 256th time; getting together with friends and family and, yes, I even absolutely love turkey. I’m not one of these hipster ‘oh I don’t actually really like turkey it’s so terribly dry isn’t it’ people - that’s a load of nonsense you idiots - turkey is delicious and you should feel privileged to be shoveling it into your mouths with abandon on the 25th day of the 12th month.
Also, even though now I’m a (nearly) functioning adult who can buy whatever items I desire whenever I want them (within strict budgetary constraints), I also love presents. What’s not to like about receiving something that you didn’t really realise you wanted, but which will give you lasting pleasure for many years? A lovely jumper that you wouldn’t normally have treated yourself to. That big-hitting autobiography that you’d been meaning to buy but had never got round to it. Or maybe a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Meet the lions at a zoo: yes, count me in for that, big time - tell Leo I’m on my way and boy have I got a big juicy steak for him to enjoy. Oh, and socks. Because you always need socks and you can rely on Christmas to reboost your collection.
You see a theme here? Useful stuff. Stuff which is worth having. Thoughtful stuff from thoughtful people who know you and what you like (lions and socks).
And you know what the polar opposite of that is? Something which does nothing but produce stuff you don’t want or need, from people who don’t know you.
For the uninitiated, the traditional Secret Santa involves a group of people all being randomly assigned someone to buy a present for, usually with a price cap. The giver of the gift is never revealed, the purpose of this presumably being that if your gift goes down like Sunderland then you’re spared the embarrassment of being unmasked as the Herod in the room. The price cap, meanwhile, is meant to make taking part affordable to everyone - particularly if there’s a whole bunch of Secret Santas on the go in your office/chess club/pylon enthusiasts society.
What this system does is make it impossible for anyone to ever be satisfied with anything.
If you don’t know the person you’re buying for very well, you’ll buy something they don’t want. A wasted gift. Or, as most people do, you’ll play it safe with a joke present. Which will provide all of five seconds of fun before being chucked out and taking several millennia to eventually, maybe, if it ever does, decompose.
If you do know them, you’re stuck buying something within a low price bracket (and if you go over it will become very, very, very clear that whoever has given it to you would definitely like to sleep with you, rendering the office party excruciatingly awkward as you scan the room for the gifter) - something which will then, inevitably, be disposable or throwaway.
Even worse is the variation of Secret Santa where everyone buys one present, chucks it into a big pile and then you pick one (or you ‘steal’ a previous present) in an order dictated at random. This absolutely ensures that all the presents will be jokes, since it is literally impossible to put any actual thought into the gift, since you have no idea who will end up receiving it - and everyone will be trying to get the biggest laugh they can when the present is unwrapped in the room.
And what is left at the end of proceedings? A whole load of cheap rubbish, which no one wants, has provided a tiny, almost imperceptible amount of fleeting not-even-joy-more-like-a-slight-chuckle and which no one will ever use again. What a total waste of money. What a total waste of the earth’s resources. Global warming is marching ever-more-unchecked and we’re wasting precious commodities on this? I don’t know about you but I’d prefer ‘White Christmas’ to still be sung by my grandkids in 50 years’ time rather than being a historical record of something which is now, due to the unchecked flood of pointless consumerism, a scientific impossibility.
If it’s a traditional Secret Santa amongst friends, with the idea being to stop you needing to buy everyone a present - to save money or whatever - then, of course, that’s fine and dandy: you’ll know the person and you can buy something decent. Maybe up, or remove, that price cap, people can pay what they choose to, or they are able to.
But in the office, how about you just cut the crap and buy something communal that everyone will actually enjoy and use - a big tub of Quality Street, or some nice beers or something. Or you all chip in to buy that awesome office stereo you’ve been talking about, so you can listen to Magic with the bass quality that it deserves.
Go communist. Santa is a red after all.
Just cut out the stupid gifts alright?