A brilliant excuse to regift crap you never wanted in the first place to people you don't particularly like or hang out with, but you do it with a tight smile on your face because it's the holiday season and it's deemed appropriate or cordial to do so.
That's crass. My apologies. It's Christmas. THE SEASON OF PERPETUAL HOPE.
It also depends what one classifies as Secret Santa. You see, Secret Santa to me is pulling a name out of a hat or bowl and purchasing a specific gift for that specific person, secretly. Many get this confused with White Elephant (also known as Pollyanna Swap, Yankee Swap, Cutthroat Christmas and probably several others). White Elephant is similar to Secret Santa, but you do not purchase a gift for a specific person. The item is bought, wrapped, and placed on a table with all the other anonymous gifts. Numbers are drawn from a hat or bowl and played in order sequence, but you very likely already know this. You didn't come here to hear the rules of the game.
I have terrible luck with any exchanging of goods parties, but Secret Santa is often the worst of these reindeer games. You see, I'm a classic over thinker. I pour my heart into finding the perfect and most thoughtful gift ten or twenty dollars can possibly buy. I will go through painstaking steps to find out what this person enjoys, take the time to wrap it in the prettiest paper my local department store carries, and finish off with a hand created ribbon bow; the fancy kind with wire around the edges that allows for a bulbous effect. I love watching the recipient make a fuss about not wanting to open my gift while they appreciate my handiwork. Unfortunately, when my name is called, I'm handed a seen-better-days holographic gift bag with the tag, "To Matthew with Love from Gran and Gramps" still attached. If I'm lucky, they'll swap out the tissue paper previously issued for a fresh batch. As I carefully pluck through the sea of crumpled tissue paper, I remind myself it's what's inside that counts until I open the contents to uncover a shocking abalone shell filled with those chalky, pastel-coloured mints no one ever eats except Matthew's Gran and Gramps. If I'm really lucky, I'll score a box of marbleized seashell-shaped soaps that have accumulated a light coating of sticky dust on top of the box with additional pieces of hair and fuzz stuck where the price tag glue didn't quite come off. The disappointing part is I know it has probably been sitting in someone's house for quite some time. If I did enough sleuthing, I could probably pinpoint the manufacture date - and it ain't gonna be from this millennium, pets.
I'm not ungrateful, but come on. What on God's green Earth am I going to do with an abalone shell, says the girl with a shellfish allergy.
And why are these gifts always beach themed?
A couple of years ago, I attended a gift exchange party that is one for the record books.
As the hostess was seeing guests in and offering libations, someone had placed a stunningly wrapped gift on the common table for the game to begin. It was eye catching in every way and stuck out like a sore thumb surrounded by a plethora of gift bags. The festive wrapping paper was clearly handmade - the kind of paper one buys one sheet at a time and costs about $18. The bow attached was just as impressive and sparkled no matter what angle the light hit. It was embellished with pine and holly sprigs and cute little jingle bells. I only remember this because I thought it was a genius way to enhance my gift wrapping skills going forward. As refreshments and conversations flowed, quiet whispers and murmurs bounced off wine glasses while strained sideway glances eyed the prize. This gift is for sure the first to go.
Once our loquacious group calmed, the game began. First number called, they chose a gift bag. Second guest chose a different gift from the table. Third guest stole the second guest's gift. This went on for awhile. BUT NO ONE TOOK THE GIFT. WHAT IS GOING ON? WHY WAS NO ONE TAKING THE PRETTY GIFT? My guess is either no one wanted the pressure of being the one to take it or the build up around it was so great, it wasn't worth the spotlight. About twenty minutes went by and someone finally staked their claim on it. We all waited with bated breath as she painfully took her time unwrapping the gift. I don't think I have ever heard silence quite so loud. I could feel my pupils dilating as she got to the underbelly of the gift wrapping. Hours went by. Sweat feverishly beaded on my upper lip. The ticking of the clock got louder and louder with each second.
She finally opened the box to unveil the ugliest trio of candle pillars I have ever seen. Friends, I am not kidding. I'm all for the arts, but holy shit. These beasts had gargoyles or dragons carved into the iridescent base with crystals dangling in the hollowed out centre. They were just......so......unbelievable. I can't imagine any home decor that would incorporate three of these naturally. The recipient placed them back into the box, thanked the anonymous giver and the game went on as best as it could. BUT YOU GUYS. WAIT. WAIT. The best part about all of this is that no one took responsibility for this contribution AND there was an extra gift on the table at the end of the game, which means someone purposefully brought this to dump onto someone else while scoring something better! Checkmate! Game over!
I couldn't help but feel for this poor woman who was now stuck with this.....thing. She bought a lovely, tasteful gift and was leaving with.....that. It was
Moral of the story: Don't judge a book by its cover (the wrapping) AND if you're unsure what to buy, don't regift unless you know for sure the recipient would appreciate it. Buy or bring something that is universal - like a gift card or these peanut butter cups. Pretty on the outside and on the inside. A gorgeous pretzel-filled peanut butter and smothered in chocolate, topped with a mini pretzel. If someone has a peanut allergy, another nut or seed butter would substitute beautifully.
One man's trash is another man's treasure, except at Christmas.
Everyone deserves the best at Christmas.
And that's all I've got to say about that.
PRETZEL PEANUT BUTTER CUPS
2 cups quality chocolate
2 tablespoons coconut oil
½ cup peanut butter - or any nut or seed butter of your choice
2 tablespoons salted butter
¼ cup finely ground pretzels
½ cup powdered sugar
24 minute pretzel liners
24 mini pretzels (or any embellishment such as sprinkles, sea salt, chocolate slivers...)
Prepare a 24-cup mini muffin tin by lining with mini cupcake liners.
In a mixing bowl, stir together peanut butter, butter, ground pretzels, and powdered sugar until smooth; set aside.
In a heat safe bowl, melt chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring well in between each run. Stir in coconut oil. Pour roughly a teaspoon of chocolate into the bottoms of each paper cup. Place tray into refrigerator to solidify.
While chocolate is firming up, roll out 1 to 1¼ inch balls. Place balls into cups keeping sides clear to allow chocolate to encase peanut butter. Top with melted chocolate. Place mini pretzel (or sprinkles, non-paroles, sea salt) on top and apply slight pressure. Refrigerate to solidify.
Peanut butter cups can be kept at rom temperature in an airtight container.