With the scent of cinnamon and cookies in the air, you know Christmas is just around the corner. Although expecting Santa Claus on the 25th is a little farfetched (now that we are all grown up), somewhere inside, a part of us wishes for an unexpected surprise (not the kind visiting relatives give).
We’ve played the Secret Santa game in school, college, and even at office, but always it is someone you know, someone we see every day. So to bring in a twist to the well loved and well known game, two Christmases back Darshan Parekh and two of his friends sat over a cup of coffee and came up with a brilliant idea, Why not take the Secret Santa game to the digital space of Twitter and spread the cheer? And that’s when the Twitter Secret Santa game began.
Who is the Santa behind the Secret Santa?
Head Santa: @TheGoodJew
Party Santa: @Hardik
Over the past three years, this game has expanded by leaps and today cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai have their own Twitter handle with a handler. Chatting over the phone with the Mumbai Secret Santa handler, Ms. Tulika Pradeep, we found out more about these Secret Santas and their operation.
The hierarchy at the Santa headquarters is as follows: The Head Santa (not the one at the North pole) is Darshan Parekh, with the second in command being the Mumbai Santa aka Tulika Pradeep, who also supports other accounts as well as aides in the tie-ups with shopping partners (the elves). For the Chennai Santa, we have Amba at the reins, and the Delhi Santa (which began only this year) is Nupur, while the Bangalore Santa is Shikha, although last year it was Mansi.
How it works
For those of you who don’t play this game, here’s how it goes. You start by touching base with your city handle. For e.g @MumbaiSecretSanta along with someone already in the game that can vouch for you. Once your city Santa approves of your request, you are sent a sheet, which you have to fill out including personal details like office/home address (if you don’t fill in your address, how would you receive a gift, Duh!), and you are then allotted a handle to whom you have to be a Secret Santa, while someone else gets your name. The gift price range is generally between Rs. 500 – Rs. 2000, but sometimes there are a few exceptions.
Point to be noted, if you don’t send anything out as a Secret Santa, you are termed naughty and get blacklisted for a really really long time. In its first year, the game received about 100 entries and the following year it rocketed to about 500 entries. This year, the entries had already crossed the 600 mark even a month before Christmas. The registrations happen in batches, so if you miss a deadline, please realize it’s your fault!
Over the years, people have made ludicrous requests from their Santas, while some have gone out of their way to make sure their gift made someone smile. One example of these hilarious requests was for a wooden framed bed! The requester was very specific about what she wanted and emphasized on the fact that she didn’t want anything else except for a bed.
On the other hand, one Secret Santa noticed that the Santee was a die-hard fan of “Above and Beyond” and couldn’t get her hands on a ticket. So in the spirit of Christmas he/she decided to spread the cheer by sending her a ticket to the concert. You can surely imagine how excited that girl must have been. Well, if you can’t, let’s take a look at her tweets that leave no room for imagination.
While Santa Claus has little elves to help him all year round, Secret Santas across the city are aided by various brands online that offer special discounts for this Secret Santa game. So you can either buy it online and directly send it your Santee under a pretentious name, or personally hand deliver it once you receive it.
So you may have been naughty or nice, but in the spirit of Christmas, spread a little cheer. Be the reason someone smiles, it will do your conscience good.
Here are a few people who have been over the moon having received gifts from their Santas.