Submitted by jackredditlol t3_z8tbxd in tifu

A bit of context.

I'm working in Europe and I was raised in an Arabic country so Christmas and everything else that comes with it is a completely foreign concept to me. My colleagues are awesome and I'm really enjoying working with them in the company. The only downside is that when they're extremely tired, their English tends to make less and less sense.

We are a small team of 5 and my manager brought it up to me that she wants to do this thing where we will make a "game" and choose a "name" then give that chosen name a gift. I remember I double checked if I understood correctly. I said oh so the whole team is going to buy a gift to that person? Being this conversation took place on a late Friday afternoon and her being tired, she said yeah sure. I found the concept weird. But I thought maybe it's a cultural thing so I said yeah sure I'm in.

We didn't really talk about it since. Today at work they said that they're going to finally play the game to find out who they're going to gift presents. I was like cool. We're gonna find out who's that lucky bastard getting the expensive gift. They also said secret Santa. I thought wow what a creative unbefitting name for such a game.

So my manager brought a paper bag and the names were inside written on small pieces of paper. She asked us one by one to take out one name each. I thought since we're 5, for every name there are 5 pieces of paper and the name that's picked the most will be nominated as the chosen secret Santa or whatever the fuck. I was rationalising how this is going to end up with one chosen individual to get the ultimate gift.

One girl said she'll go first and was excited. I was like wtf. Why does it matter. Weird but sure. This is my inner dialogue btw.

We all picked and then it was my turn. They're hiding the papers and reading them in secret. And I'm thinking what's with all the secrecy.

I was the one before the last. I put my hand in the bag and only notice 2 papers are left. Another wtf moment. I say nothing and pick up one of them. It's Celine. My favourite colleague. She deserves it I thought.

My manager picks up the last one and I thought it was time to vote. I get excited and wait for her to give us the mark.

Instead, she asks us to put back the papers in the paper bag and to not forget who we picked. I thought why not just put the papers on the table and see who got voted most. But whatever. At this point I started feeling that I think I misunderstood the whole thing.

We put the papers back and then I ask, "So who did you guys pick? I got Celine".

They collectively looked at me and said, "Noo! But what's the point of the whole secret Santa thing if we're gonna tell? Now we have to do it again"

I tell them we're choosing one to give a gift to right? And now we're voting? And they all look so confused and basically say... Uhh... What?

And then my dumbass finally gets it. The realisation hit like a truck. It all clicked. I go like "Wait, so the person I got in my paper is a person I'm gifting and someone else got my name so they'll gift me?"


I said, "Oh, now I get it". And they all started laughing.

I feel like I have 2 brain cells left.

TL;DR: after a series of wtf moments with my colleagues, I finally get what Secret Santa is about but I had to ruin it the first time we picked up the names first.

Edit: while we're on the topic, how expensive/luxurious should I go with the gifts? And since it's secret, I'm gonna assume I shouldn't tell the person I picked that I left them the gift? So I just leave it on her desk?

Oh yeah, btw I got Celine again 🤩🤩🤩 we work closely together and the support on all fronts from her is immense. She deserves this and much more.

I was thinking about buying these Santa Claus socks? But they're really cheap, but they look so cool lol idk man help!

Edit 2: a few facts about Celine: loved coffee and loves cooking, honestly she makes some really good food and once she made some baked stuff... It was out of this world. Soon she's gonna start learning a language, she likes reading, and she likes biking and overall a really cool dude to be around.

Edit 3: I asked my manager what the budget is, and she said there's no limit, and I shouldn't be ashamed if I got something significantly more expensive than other people. So I'm going all out on this one, boys. We're also exchanging the gifts on a specific day we planned to have a little gathering.

I'm definitely getting her something coffee-related, a thermo mug with special beans from a special coffee shop + Santa Claus socks and some chocolate here and there.



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Justinformation t1_iyd6drl wrote

You just made this years Secret Santa even more memorable :)


AngelxEyez t1_iyd6cea wrote

Simple communication mistake! The real tifu was you missed out on giving Celine, your fav colleague a gift!

Also the best when you get someone you actually like!


GlassEyeMV t1_iyfdvvj wrote

Getting someone you want is absolutely the best. I got my admin assistant one year when I knew she was struggling a bit. I also knew exactly what she wanted for Christmas - new bread pans. She was a great baker, but had recently found out she was gluten intolerant and her old loaf pans were wearing out. I found a 2 loaf, 2 sheet, Bundt package and then 5lbs of almond flour. It was a little over the limit, but not a crazy amount. And she was SOOO happy. The first thing she made with them was a loaf of banana bread for me. So so good.


Porcupinehog t1_iydab4d wrote

This is the most wholesome TIFU I have ever read! I don't think anybody in the office would be mad at that


Darth_Bfheidir t1_iydg19f wrote

My gf is Chinese and this is her 4th year doing Secret Santa and she periodically needs to be reminded of the rules so I'd not worry too much about it


CoffeeBeanx3 t1_iyfabp6 wrote

I remember doing Secret Santa with a class with very mixed backgrounds. We had a pretty low cash limit, so I thought I'd buy a pretty tin, write a nice card, and baked a huge variety of cookies that I decorated and crammed in there, as many as could possibly fit.

It was rather obvious I spent hours upon hours in the kitchen, but I assumed that some ungrateful bastard who only ever bought discount cookies and gifted someone else a single cigarette would get them. But I organised the game, it took a lot of effort to get these lazy bums even slightly organised, and despite ensuring me that they'd all bring their gifts and me reminding them a thousand times, a few showed up without them anyways.

Well, the ungrateful bastard I picked out of the hat dropped out unofficially the day before, but since they'd done that the year before too, I was prepared. Since I knew who they'd picked, I had a backup card that I wrote, had a backup tin that matched the personality of their gift recipient better (and wasn't as christmas-y) and I whipped that backup present into shape so their recipient would be my recipient instead. I was organising this and I would NOT let anyone be giftless if I could help it.

The recipient I got instead was this very nice Muslim guy, and when he opened his package, and saw the dozens of tiny cookies, and the card, where I'd described each kind so he wouldn't go in blind and maybe eat something he hates, and where I wished him a nice winter break and some rest while he's off school, he suddenly got very quiet.

We didn't write our names on there, but people knew my handwriting and I assumed I'd fucked up.

Someone told me later he went outside to catch himself a little, because that was the first Christmas present he ever received, and he loved it so much. And he later thanked me, very sincerely, for all the effort and told me that he really liked the gift, and that it was his first Christmas present and it meant a lot to him.

That made all of the awful effort of people assuring me they're totally in for Secret Santa and then doing fuck all 100% worth it.

Also, I got a surprisingly nice gift from a guy I didn't expect it from at all. I still use those candle holders today.

I love this tradition a lot and will defend it to the end.


jackredditlol OP t1_iyfbqrj wrote

Absolutely. I love it too.

I spoke to some other friends from different countries about it and although they don't celebrate Christmas, they do the exact same game minus everything Christmasy on NYE.

Where I'm from, we never play these kind of games. NYE is an opportunity for us to get together and celebrate eating some expensive cake or whatever, I don't think I've ever received a Christmas/NYE gift ever so like the Muslim guy in your story, I also think I'm getting my first Christmas gift 😂

But do you know what would be really mind-blowing to me? The chemistry between Celine and I is incredible. Me giving her a gift feels the most natural. I genuinely like her as a human being and can't wait to show it through a gift.

But my other colleague I had some friction with in the past (it was s misunderstanding about something) and even though we've come a long way since then, I could feel she still feels shitty about what happened and has been acting very politely around me. I have the feeling she's my secret Santa and if it's the case, I don't think this could've turned any better 😁


FrillySteel t1_iyf5gpn wrote

I look forward to your explanation of the vastly stupider "white elephant" game.


well_actuallE t1_iydk2dl wrote

Aww I understand that you might feel embarrassed but please don’t! It was a completely harmless mistake and I’m sure it’ll be a nice laugh between you and the team in future! Honestly the best time to make this „mistake“ was when you did - no one had bought presents yet or put too much thought in. And often names have to be redrawn anyway because the last person chooses their own name, so you’re really really completely fine :)


Lee2026 t1_iydlfa0 wrote

You didn’t fuck up man but this is funny as hell!

Don’t worry about it, stuff like this makes the team stronger


aghzombies t1_iyea18u wrote


That's one for your inevitable memoir, titled "weird shit Europeans do" 😂😂😂


jackredditlol OP t1_iyeanb9 wrote

I sat down with Celine for 5 minutes after and explained my perspective, she was confused as to wtf happened that led me to such a conclusion. She found it hilarious af that I thought that and she told me that if we did it that way, it'd be unfair for the other employees who weren't picked and that it's weird.


Est92xx t1_iyf5kgg wrote

Bro I am from Greece and I never knew the secret Santa thing until I moved to the UK. Don't feel ''stupid'', I was as confused as you the first time.


tropikaldawl t1_iyeatwn wrote

This is a cultural misunderstanding and it makes the world better. I really like when people who take things for granted are given opportunities to understand that the things they know aren’t the same for everyone. It broadens perspective


Opalescent_Topaz t1_iydm4qn wrote

This is really wholesome. I love it. Thanks for sharing, OP.


Mase598 t1_iyfc4wv wrote

I'm a bit late, but as far as how expensive the gift goes I would recommend asking your manager.


Usually when people do secret santa, a rule is set in place of such as for example, "$20 max" so there's no situations where someone is spending like $100 and others are spending $10.


Don't get too caught up on the price though, if you see some things that are nice and you think your co-worker Celine would like. You mentioned she likes coffee and cooking, maybe something like some cooking utensils such as a spatula for example or some good quality coffee if you know how she makes her coffee.


Also general recommendation, whatever you do buy keep the receipt with it. Worst case scenario, if you buy her something that she doesn't need she can always return/refund it and get something she might need more. Most people care about the thought that goes into the gifts, so as long as you show you put some thought into it even if it's not kept don't feel bad!


mik8c t1_iye3um7 wrote

don't worry about making them draw names again, it happens often enough if someone accidentally gets their own name :D


-DemoKa- t1_iyf5ne9 wrote

I got my own name like 3 times in a row and they had to ban my name for my own turn lmao


askewboka t1_iyegd4f wrote

You sound like a really fun coworker. I wouldn’t sweat (be upset about) this in the slightest!

Did they redraw the names? Ultimately clarity is key in these situations and either your boss or you should have asked for clarification however who really cares? Now all 5 of you have a fun story!

You should tell Celine you were happy to pick her. (Cheap Christmas movies could be made about the romance)


Pysgnau t1_iyfd9ph wrote

Most secret Santa exchanges have a price limit. When everyone is together, I would ask if there is a price limit or anything specific you should know when participating. Also, ask when you will be exchanging gifts and how they normally do it. Some places leave them completely anonymously, other places put them somewhere and designate a time to hand them out while everyone watches each person open them. The person usually finds out who got them their gift when the time comes to exchange gifts, but you won’t let anyone know until then.

At my workplace, our limit is $25-30. We can spend a little more if we want, but it’s not expected to get anything nice or fancy.

Consider getting her a cute coffee mug or cup, the Santa socks are an awesome idea too if she likes that kinda stuff. If you have an inside joke or a fun thing you bond over, get her a little something related to that. Unless stated otherwise, you usually want to spend between $25-$50 on the gift, and get them a couple small things.

It’s pretty fun and nice since you have a small team that you’re close with. Have fun and good luck! Let us know here if you have any other questions.


Correct_Wishbone_798 t1_iyddrjy wrote

There are so many different variations of this game. Your way actually makes more sense than some of them. I’ve seen picking names, bring a gift anyone would like and then you pick at random, a variation of that where you can either take a gift already unwrapped or one from the center, one where you bring something from home that you don’t use anymore (one man’s trash is another’s treasure), everyone brings a joke gift, the list goes on. And the more cultures are involved, the more you need to clarify the rules. And mixing them up can be part of the fun.


the_slow_blade t1_iydhqhy wrote

I think what you described are different "games", like White Elephant or Yankee Swap. Secret Santa has pretty standard rules!


Correct_Wishbone_798 t1_iydnatf wrote

Probably. But who can keep them all straight? Especially when I’ve seen a secret Santa that was a yankee swap, and everyone was required to keep their new items on display for the year


Saberise t1_iydwjxf wrote

Yeah many variations and always important everyone is on the same page. We had one at work and it was meant to be everyone bringing in a good item that people could steal. I told my coworker planning it she probably should clarify it with everyone. She didn’t think it was necessary. She was pissed when she opened a ugly plastic planter that no one stole. That was the only item that someone brought in that was a white elephant. Of course I thought but didn’t say, see I told you that could happen.


PotatoOver9759 t1_iydn8w2 wrote

You sound like an absolute treasure, and I mean that genuinely.


Strange-Act7264 t1_iydtddo wrote

Consider yourself lucky that they didn't call it "dirty Santa", as some offices do. THAT could have been a major league TIFU.


endorrawitch t1_iyeny94 wrote

OH....that's another ball of wax.

I hate Dirty Santa.


manbrasucks t1_iyf9ws2 wrote

>: while we're on the topic, how expensive/luxurious should I go with the gifts?

Usually discuss together as a group to pick a range of price to avoid confusion and people getting upset/embarrassed. I'd really recommend bringing it up asap if it wasn't discussed. Really depends on income of everyone and should be favorable to the person with the lowest income to avoid really fucking that person over.

20-30 price range is safe and 50-60 is what I do with my family.


jackredditlol OP t1_iyfagjv wrote

It was discussed, but the problem with my team is that sometimes they say everything and nothing, so I don't feel like I got a real answer. They said something of value but not too expensive. They said even something cheap should work and I was like come on I can't leave Milka chocolate bar on Stacey's desk and call that a gift.

I had some concerned looks.

I told them I'm kidding, Stacey was definitely not the person I picked.

I think they hate me more now lol


manbrasucks t1_iyfba3a wrote

Sounds like 20-30 range if you want a good gift, but 10-20 if you want a funny gift/christmas.

What you should do is get the santa socks, then put a Milka chocolate bar in it.

Then when she gets it say something like "turns out you can just leave the bar as the gift, you just need to put it in a christmas stocking first."

Christmas stocking wiki if you haven't heard them before.


jackredditlol OP t1_iyfcd76 wrote

I saw some of the socks in a shop and they actually look wearable, like woollen thick winter socks. I'll take a picture and send it when I can.

But I like the idea. I'll probably opt for it.

But when do I give the gift? Do I leave it on her desk or its on the day we agreed to make the little Christmas gathering?


karmandreyah t1_iyfefcr wrote

I've worked in offices where every week until the holiday party, or every day of the week building up to the holiday party, small secret Santa gifts are left anonymously (candy, coffee, ornament, etc.). You may ask. Then, on the holiday party itself, the "larger" gift is given.

Don't be afraid to ask Celine too. May throw her off that idea that you drew her name. :)


manbrasucks t1_iyfcvgw wrote

Probably wrap it still so she has something to open then give when agreed.

Might want to put it in a box first so it's not obvious.


mxl01 t1_iydq8o9 wrote

Reading this as if Russell Peters is telling the story with accents and mannerisms makes it way funnier.



Strange-Act7264 t1_iydtbct wrote

Consider yourself lucky that they didn't call it "dirty Santa", as some offices do. THAT would have been a major league TIFU.


Montanapat89 t1_iyevxxm wrote

I love this. There are things that people think 'everyone knows how this works', but nope. I can totally see your confusion, OP. It's interesting to see how people who have never been exposed to certain rituals can misinterpret them.


ThisSorrowfulLife t1_iydf9mp wrote

It's okay! Next time maybe look up what the subject is online just to get a more thorough understanding lol


WEVP_TV t1_iyesams wrote

That's so cute, I love it


Due-Profession-3563 t1_iyew2n5 wrote

That's adorable. No f here. At least it wasnt the stupid white elephant game....


doubleday34 t1_iyf9ks2 wrote

To answer you question from the edit, your office should have a suggested range. I would ask the manager or someone.


MariosP02 t1_iyfa8xq wrote

You don't have to get anything expensive for the other person. In my opinion the gift should either be something they are going to find useful like a somewhat nice pen or it should have a personal touch. For example if they like a certain tv series you could get them something related to that. Or if you're not so sure about what they would like you could always get them some snacks.


ponybeine t1_iyfe33x wrote

I don’t know if anyone has said this yet: don’t just randomly leave it on her desk! Maybe your team will have a little Christmas party or something, but usually you’ll all get together at some point before Christmas and exchange the gifts together and show each other what you got. That’s how I know it.


VivaLaDio t1_iydgt7s wrote

This is a funny af story but definitely breaks like at least 3 rules of this sub


Jelly_F_ish t1_iyeap4t wrote

Today I had a slight cultural misunderstanding at work, or short TIHASCMAW, is just not as catchy.


markwell9 t1_iyehd58 wrote

First world fuckup.


WermTerd t1_iyewm46 wrote

Dude, you have to learn to laugh at yourself! I promise this won't be the dumbest thing you ever do, not by a long shot.


w0lfbandit t1_iyeypjk wrote

This is so cute and wholesome. Thanks for sharing


LeafsChick t1_iyezamb wrote

This is adorable!!! So who do you have now??


Purkinsmom t1_iyf8vzc wrote

The made me laugh until I had tears in my eyes. Sitting here alone my doggo thinks I’ve lost it.


Jedibbq t1_iyf9fx4 wrote

Usually there’s a spending limit on the gifts. I wonder if op knows about the white elephant game! Lol.


jackredditlol OP t1_iyfa1nr wrote

Absolutely not, can you help me get some more culture?


Neumeu635 t1_iyfaw9p wrote

I would ask if there's a maximum value to spend on the gift but I would limit around 25-35 dollars


rathlord t1_iyewtw7 wrote

Secret Santa is a weird, convoluted, and sometimes political (at work) game. I’m not a big fan and I can see how it would be absolutely mad to someone who didn’t know about it.