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What is reddit Secret Santa and how do I get involved?

reddit Secret Santa
Big hitter: you might get a present from Bill (you won't)

We’ve all done office Secret Santas. You get plucked out of the hat to spend £10 on Colin from Accounts and spend six miserable hours traipsing round Debenhams trying to find something witty to buy him, before settling on a Keep Calm And Carry On mug and a whisky miniature. Well, reddit Secret Santa is like that on a global scale.

In a nutshell, you enter a draw with tens of thousands of other redditors, who are drawn out of a computerised hat to send each other a Christmas present. If you’re phenomenally lucky and hit the motherlode, your Secret Santa is Bill Gates (more on this later). If you’re not, you get a Trump car bumper sticker from Chet in Kansas.

All cynicism aside, it’s one of those rare opportunities for people on the internet to be nice to one another. So how do you get involved?

How to enter reddit Secret Santa

The first thing you need to do, if you’ve not done so already, is register for a reddit account. Reddit, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a massive, ascerbic and frequently brilliant discussion forum, but not for the easily offended.

Then you need to visit the redditgifts website and register there, too. You can’t register with your reddit account, but you will eventually be asked to link your reddit account to redditgifts.

Once you’ve done that and responded to the authorisation email, you’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire. Questions include “Which book character would be your best friend?” and “Have you ever been abducted by aliens?”, along with some more humdrum stuff about which sports teams you support and which organisations (non-political) you support.

You must also choose whether you’re prepared to send gifts internationally (think of the postage costs) or only within the UK. Then all you have to do is drum your fingers and wait for the draw to be made on November 27th, which is the final date for entries. Gifts must be shipped to your recipient by December 15th.

What are the rules of reddit Secret Santa?

The rules are astonishingly simple. There’s no limit on spending or even a suggested amount – you just give what you feel comfortable with. You could fluke out and get a present from one of the world’s richest chaps, but far more likely you’ll get a bag of sweets from Tony in Belfast, if the gallery of past gifts is anything to go by.

You’re encouraged to go beyond the questionnaire with “some non-creepy stalking of reddit accounts and whatever a general search gives you”. Ringing them up for a chat or befriending their mum on Facebook is a definite no-no.

You must report on the redditgifts site when you’ve posted your gift, and you’re also asked to thank the sender and post photos of what you’ve been sent via the website.

Although the rules don’t specifically mention it, we’d say sending used underwear or Mrs Brown’s Boys DVDs is well out of order.

What does Bill Gates buy for reddit Secret Santa?

Bill Gates is a regular reddit Secret Santa and if you’re flukey enough to get the world’s richest man buying you stuff, you’re not looking at a pack of Wether’s Originals.

Last year’s recipient got an Xbox One Minecraft Edition, a series of Xbox controllers and a selection of more personal, non-Microsoft gifts, as well as a personal note, a photo of Bill himself and a donation to charity in the person’s name – just about pulling it back from a cynical Microsoft marketing exercise, in my eyes.

Previous years’ presents have been less Microsofty. In 2015, he bought an avid hiker a new tent, a duffel bag for her gear and an outdoor chair, as well as the charity donation. He’s a good egg, that Bill.

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day.

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