I participated in it for several years (one of a small number of men). The standard rules include to keep it secret and don't spend anymore than $20 total for the final gift as well as for any little gifts you buy along the way. Usually, people leave small surprises on a desk or in a mailbox--a candy bar, a pack of pretzels, etc.
One year, I drew one of the other male teachers from the hat--"Mike" The responses on Mike's slip of paper read:
What is your favorite color: None
What hobbies or activities do you enjoy: None
What is your favorite snack or drink: I don't care
Share something special with your secret pal to help him/her with gift ideas: I dont careIrritated, I resolved to shower Mike with the most random gifts every day for the next two weeks. In response for the ridiculous slip, I would have some fun with the situation even if Mike didn't seem to care either way. Among the random gifts I left for him:
- a flower out of a neighbor's yard--shoved in his teacher mailbox--roots and soil included
- several clean napkins
- a half-eaten bag of Cheetos
- an old book about William Penn's properties
- an awful handwritten poem
- a Jesus coloring book
- a mix tape (CD) of the same song recorded over and over again (I forget the song now)
She was short--barely four and half feet tall.
One building legend has it that she once drove midget stock cars. That wasn't repeated as a joke. People actually shared that a serious matter of fact. Another legend has it that she punched a teacher in the face and took him off his feet. The story goes that he snuck up behind her and caught her by surprise...and paid the price.
Of course, Mike did not come to the holiday reveal, so I had to leave his gift on his desk for him (why did he ever participate in the first place?) Wrapped in a beautiful silver holiday paper and a twenty dollar frame, I wish I knew what his face looked like when he saw Sheila smiling up at him through the glass.
Even though we weren't afforded that laugh, I did tell everyone at the final reveal what was in Mike's package.
However, as it turns out, we were blessed with a better laugh, because this isn't the joke.
Mike guy hung the picture up in his classroom!
The main office secretary stopped me one morning and told me that Sheila was hopping mad at me. Earlier, she barreled into the office and told the ladies "wait till I get my hands on that Kelley."
She said she saw her picture in Mike's room when she was delivering some rags for the white board. Bothered by it, she confronted him the next morning--with her finger in his stomach since she couldn't reach his chest. He said it felt like an alien probing him.
She marched into his room before the kids showed and pecked her forefinger into him, "What are you doing with my picture on your wall?"
His response, "Enjoying it."
Long after I bailed out of Secret Santa, the framed photo of Sheila actually ended up being passed around Secret Pal as a gag gift for several years afterwards. Sheila caught wind of that and then really got mad at me--even though I had nothing to do with the gag anymore.
Even after several apologies, Sheila stopped talking to me during the last few years before she retired...and even moved to growling when passing me in the hallway.