Online Secret Santa gift exchange attracts thousands

Tis the season for heart-melting tales of spontaneous goodwill among strangers, which, like the rest of our relationships, has gotten a lot more convenient since the advent of the Internet.

SEATTLE, Wash. — ’Tis the season for heart-melting tales of spontaneous goodwill among strangers, which, like the rest of our relationships, has gotten a lot more convenient since the advent of the Internet.

A few weeks ago, a seasonal discussion began on Reddit, where people post links and vote to move stories higher or lower in the site’s rankings.

Anyone interested in a Secret Santa gift exchange? Ho Ho YES, came the answer.

More than 4,500 Reddit members in 54 countries signed up. They were given a Reddit user name and mailing address, and sometimes a note from the recipient-to-be about likes and dislikes.

As gifts arrived and recipients posted photos and thank-you notes online, it became clear that Reddit has become, to these folks at least, much more than just a news site.

Erik Martin, a community manager at Reddit, said many Secret Santas appeared to have pored over the history of links and comments their recipient had posted on the site for clues that would yield the perfect gift idea.

Some took it a step further and did what Martin calls “a little friendly Internet stalking,” looking up addresses to get recipients’ real names and tracking down their friends on Facebook.

Judging by notes and photos posted by recipients, Secret Santas did good.

Many gift packages included items reflecting popular Internet topics such as bacon, narwhals and zombies. Many, many others involved handmade replicas of Reddit’s mascot — a little alien guy — rendered in blown glass, clay, metal, beadwork, felt, paint on canvas, carved soap, yarn and more.

The suggested amount to spend was $15, but some Santas went far beyond that. One Santa kicked of a fund drive on Reddit so that the recipient’s girlfriend could set aside emergency veterinary care money for her new service dog.

Another sent a volume of the teen-vampire series “Twilight,” which disappointed the recipient until he opened it up and discovered two movies and an iPhone — yes, a working iPhone — tucked into cut-out sections of the book.

Yet another seven sent $1,500 in $100 bills, with a note that said, “Merry Christmas, hopefully this will help with books next semester ;)”

Just Posted

Raising awareness for Bikers Against Child Abuse

Second annual Raise A Ruckus Against Child Abuse was held at the Red Deer Radisson Hotel Saturday

Central Alberta Yogathon cancelled Saturday

Due to air quality concerns the fourth annual event will take place Sept. 15

City Hall Park construction begins next week

Construction to update Red Deer’s City Hall Park is set to begin… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Jazz at the Lake begins

The 16 annual event began Friday and runs until Sunday in Sylvan Lake

Photos: Lunchtime tunes on Alexander Way

Final concert of the summer

WATCH: Medicine River Wildlife Centre opens new playground

The grand opening of the playground was Saturday morning

Thousands to attend funeral service for officers killed in Fredericton shooting

FREDERICTON — Hundreds of people have lined the route of a funeral… Continue reading

Calgary police officer seriously injured

CALGARY — The Calgary Police Service says one of its officers was… Continue reading

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

MONTREAL — Canadian politicians are adding their voices to the international reaction… Continue reading

‘Four of a dozen kids will not make it:’ Tina Fontaine’s family healing together

WINNIPEG — Melissa Stevenson was just starting her career 18 years ago… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $16 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $16 million jackpot… Continue reading

Hundreds of neo-Nazis march in Berlin, protected by police

BERLIN — Hundreds of neo-Nazis waving flags with the colours of the… Continue reading

Romanian trucker is Genoa bridge’s 43rd victim

GENOA, Italy — The Latest on the Italy bridge collapse (all times… Continue reading

1 dead, 6 injured after building collapse in Nigeria capital

ABUJA, Nigeria — An emergency response chief says one person is dead… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month