Secret Sister

Every year since we were little, the five of us have drawn names for a Secret Santa gift exchange. Although I’d love to tell you that the following happened a long, long time ago, it actually happened just last week. And it wasn’t too surprising.

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We wound up having to re-draw 4 times this year.

64 thoughts on “Secret Sister

  1. Great story! Families do the strangest things like this! My wonderful in-law family always gets it wrong on the other end. All of the adults draw names so there are probably 12-14 of us every year that participate and attempt to keep it a secret (which surprisingly works well with us) however when it comes Christmas Day and we exchange the gifts, someone always thinks the best way to do it is to start with one random and then who’s name they drew goes next. I try every year to explain how this will not cover everyone necessarily. What if, let’s say, I draw Terry and Terry draws me…and Terry (or I) start? Every year it gets discombobulated mid-way through the event but no one ever seems to understand the dynamics of the math behind it! It’s so frustrating yet funny!!

  2. So funny! We do something similar, except the rules are that the gift must be homemade or re-gifted (a/k/a something crappy from the attic or a gag) and whoever participates draws a number (there are usually 20 or so). Kids and adults alike love that exchange! Sometimes we find out who brought each gift, sometimes we don’t. I still hang the beautiful macrame santa that my cousin made (I stole in one of those exchanges years ago, and expected to re-gift in another exchange…NOT!). I can see how secret sister with five can be hard to keep it secret.

    I love the cookies in your header. Probably been there for a while (I’ve been off a while!), but I do think they are super-cute and super-seasonal. Cheers, Nicole!

      1. Oh, it was. I have to share. (Tee hee.) One year, someone made a toilet seat from a discarded item: on the top, painted was a happy Santa saying “Ho Ho Ho,” but when you lifted the lid, the underneath was a shy Santa (with his mitten’d hands over his eyes) saying “Oh Oh Oh.” Then there’s the unopened Chia pet that keeps showing its head — four years in a row so far. There is some serious laughing when that one gets picked…again…

  3. My family is too greedy to do this. They want gifts from everyone! haha! True. We tried years ago to draw names for Christmas, worked out pretty good until someone thought they didn’t get a ‘nice’ enough gift. Was an in law, not me! I hate shopping so I didn’t mind the drawing of names. This is too funny.

  4. Next time, read the name and then eat the paper with the name on it – LOL!! No spoils there! Course, I would be the one to forget whose name I drew!

    1. Thank you! I included it because when Chrissy was 3 or 4, she got mad at Ashley, so she peed on Ashley’s chinese checkers. Just like she metaphorically peed on the Secret Sister name draw last week. Yup.

          1. One time, when my brother and I were kids, he peed in a cup and threw it on me. However, he (stupidly) chose his favourite red cup, which had, up to that point, been the Cherished, Fought-Over Red Cup. After that, it became the Pee Cup, even after my mom put it through the dishwasher, and my brother’s punishment was that he ALWAYS had to use that cup, “in perpetuity” (actually, just for a few years, because plastic cups don’t last forever). Anyway, the few times my parents forgot and accidentally gave ME the Pee Cup, I raised bloody murder about it.

          2. But this is worse: My mom had just gotten back from the hospital after giving birth to my younger brother, and she had some work to do for our family business, leaving me (2 yrs old) and my brother (maybe a few days old?) alone in the living room. All my mom heard was my brother crying, and the crinkling of my bag of Cheetos. All of a sudden, my brother stopped crying. Curious, my mom came into the living room to see why he’d stopped crying. To her horror, I was shoving Cheetos in his mouth because I thought he was hungry. She counted seven of them, and after that, she didn’t leave the two of us alone for a long time. (True story)

      1. Your parents did replace the Chinese checkers after that incident, right? I’d hate to think that you and your sisters had to continue playing with a toy that had been peed on.

  5. Haha this is hilarious… and I’m pretty sure only one person in this comic is responsible for ruining Secret Sister… ;)

    My family used to do this for everyone, adults and kids, usually over 12-15 people, except the ruining would happen in gossipful conversations over the phone as my mom and aunts tried to figure out who had who because someone’s kid had inevitably forgotten… I would never tell, though.

      1. When we did Secret Santa in band in high school (we had a “social night” each month or so, hosted by a different section each time), our teacher instituted a firm “no telling, no switching” policy, and also designated herself as the “safe person,” who we could ask for gift ideas, in the event that we happened to draw the name of someone who we didn’t know well. This worked really well, because it meant we could draw names once, and know that we weren’t going to know who got who until the big reveal, and at the same time, nobody had to stress over getting the wrong thing, because they knew they could ask the teacher if they were stuck. Of course, some people bought deliberately bad gifts, like a potty-training book for the boy who was obsessed with bathroom humour, and dollar-store soap for the boy who was rumoured to have body odour. It sounds mean, but it really wasn’t. The strangest gift I ever got from a band Secret Santa was a metal brooch of a dog shoving a cat into a refrigerator.

  6. I couldn’t believe the title – in my family of five sisters, we have been doing “secret sister” for over 20 years! We call it secret sister too and we also have the “rule follower” who gets really annoyed when the secret is ruined. (she got a kick out of this when I forwarded it to her :) ) Now we all live in different places so we use an online thing called Elfster that draws electronically – so much easier to not spill the beans. ;) Great post and fabulous illustrations as always.

    1. That’s so cool! I can’t believe there’s another family that does Secret Sister! And thanks for the Elfster tip. My husband lives apart from his 5 brothers, so I’m going to forward Elfster to him.

  7. We use to do this at work — with the same results. Everyone knew everyone else’s Secret Santa within 5 minutes. Now we do a “pass the trash” gift exchange which is much more fun. People get really, really creative. :)

  8. I have five siblings, and four of them are sisters. We always do secret Santa but this year we gave up on the whole secret because someone also tells or always forgets. We figured we just let everyone know this year.

  9. As for Secret Sister/Secret Santa, my family is too small for that to have any point (four people in total); however, I’ve participated in many, many Secret Santa-type exchanges in school and various extra-curricular settings, and later on at International House, except that wasn’t at Christmas time, so we just called it R.A.O.K., which stands for Random Acts of Kindness. Anyway, my first time was in grade seven, and I drew the name of a boy in class who nobody liked, but I gamely bought him a Fear Street book, wrapped it up, and brought it to school for the exchange. Names were drawn, gifters and giftees were revealed, and somehow, I ended up with nothing. Our teacher, who had a side gig delivering pizzas, gave me a coupon for a free pizza to make up for it, which was nice, but it just wasn’t the same as getting a Secret Santa gift like everyone else. So, moral of the story–if you put your name into a Secret Santa draw, then you HAVE to also pick one, and follow through on giving them a gift.

  10. LOVE! Had to click on this when I saw the title of your blog. I have 3 sisters and consider myself the middle since the 13 years older than the youngest. This is so creative although I am very sure it is true to life!

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