Santas, Snowflakes, and Snowmen: Why Surprise Gift-Giving isn’t the Most Important Thing

McKenna Dwyer, Staff Writer

As a winter chill enters the air, people rush to their favorite stores, big names such as Target or Amazon, to find the perfect gift. Very few seem to walk right up to what they want, most lingering at the end-of-aisle boxes, searching for something that can say ‘happy-holidays-even-though-I-don’t-know-you-that-well-because-we-only-have-that-one-mutual-friend’.


The holiday season produces an aggressive thrill—one that causes a visceral  reaction in people, whether good or bad.


Secret gift-giving festivities, often known as ‘Secret Santa’, ‘Secret Snowman’, and ‘Secret Snowflake’ all have the same general idea: a group of people draw others names out of a bowl, keeping the identity a secret, and buy a gift in an assigned budget (typically $10-$15).


Secret Santa is a mainly Western tradition,—although it is rumored to have originated in Scandinavia— and similar things exist in other countries.


SPFHS chemistry teacher Michael Abadir, who happens to be running an organized staff secret santa event through Bible Club, shared his thoughts on the idea.


“This time of year and all throughout the year, the most important thing that we can do in life is to care about other people,” Abadir said. “So, [giving gifts] now and at any other time just shows kindness towards others, and that’s really important.”


It is important to make others feel that they are important and recognized for their impact on others during such a festive time.


“You can make the gifts personal, and there’s a fun element of secrecy and surprise that I enjoy,” sophomore Audrey Coyne said.


While many seem to enjoy the aspect of secrecy, participating in a secret snowman isn’t for everyone.


“Once [the exchange] has been organized, I think it loses some of its magic,” SPFHS French teacher Monique Gilbert said. 


Gilbert believes that the event’s organization lacks the spontaneous kindness that the holiday season should be about.


“I love the idea of making people happy,” Gilbert said. “I love the idea of bringing joy and a moment of just something other than the mundane into people’s lives, [but] I think there’s something that’s been lost there. We are [often] just stressed out and caught up with buying things instead of taking care of each other.”


While many people have strongly differing opinions about how the holidays should be celebrated, it is best for people to celebrate what the season is all about: giving to those in need and recognizing those most important to us. This can include donating to local or nationwide charities, giving small gifts to those that you recognize need it, and/or telling your friends and family how much they mean to you.