Internet and memes

Reddit, Guinness and Bill Gates records: the history and most unusual gifts of the main “Secret Santa” of the Internet

How to unite 200 thousand people, including celebrities, with the idea of ​​giving each other joy on Christmas and New Year.

The game of “Secret Santa” is one of the most famous Christmas and New Year traditions. With the development of the Internet, playing has become easier: you can exchange gifts with friends around the world or even with strangers. The largest venue for Secret Santa on the Internet is Reddit : over the entire period more than 900 thousand people from 225 countries have participated there. And in 2019, tradition at Reddit marks 10 years.

TJ recalls the story of the largest “Secret Santa” and the most famous participants, among them – Bill Gates, Snoop Dogg, Bill Nye, Jimmy Fallon and others.


By 2009, American programmer Dan McComas worked at The Bay Citizen, a California startup, and spent his free time on Reddit with the nickname kickme444. McComas was inspired by how the site brings strangers together, and on November 10 he published a post: “Maybe someone will be interested in the idea of ​​exchanging gifts (Secret Santa)?”

Dan mccomas

It turned out to be much more than Dan expected. He created the subreddit r / SecretSanta and the website, on which the first thousand people registered in a couple of hours. Some user programmers volunteered to help McComas, and the author’s wife had to answer letters with questions for several days in a row.

The system has not changed much in ten years. Reddit users registered, indicated links to social networks, shared their wishes and interests. Then the site was looking for another user who needs to send a gift.

In fact, there were only two basic rules. The first concerned the gift spending limit – not more than $ 15 (though it is constantly being violated). The second was even simpler – “do not act like a pig.”

In the first year, 4.5 thousand people from 62 countries took part in Secret Santa on Reddit. Users received gifts and published them on the site – this motivated Sant to act more originally and caused an avalanche effect. In 2010, there were already more than 17 thousand participants, and they spent almost half a million dollars.

In the following years, RedditGifts over and over again updated the Guinness World Record as the largest Secret Santa game on the Internet. According to the service, in 2018, more than 200 thousand people wished to exchange gifts for Christmas and New Year on the site. And in the summer the site was used for “Boxing Day just like that.”

The early years, McComas and his wife were involved in the project in their spare time from their main work. But the popularity of Secret Santa was growing, and in 2010 Reddit bought RedditGifts, and the spouses were invited to work in the company. For several months, McComas was even the head of the product, but in 2015 left Reddit, and with it his own gift exchange project. But the user kickme444 can still be found on the site.

Celebrities and brands giving gifts

The most famous “Secret Santa” from Reddit was the participation of celebrities who joined the gift exchange. As a result, ordinary users received packages from basketball player Shaquille O’Neill , host Jimmy Fallon , actors Alyssa Milano and Rob Perlman , a popularizer of science Bill Nye , as well as many others. Here are some of the most prominent examples.

Bill Gates

Co-founder of Microsoft is the main star of Secret Santa. Gates loves Reddit, regularly publishes something on the site, and registers with RedditGifts almost every year. And the one who falls to the entrepreneur becomes the main Christmas lucky Internet.

Each time, Bill Gates’ gifts got bigger. In 2013, he presented the girl Rachel with a plush cow, a card with his Christmas photo, a book and a certificate to a charity fund. In 2014, it already was a full-horned helmet Loki.

In 2016, among the gifts from Gates was the Xbox One console, several games, slippers, a blanket, mittens, as well as dog shoes based on the game The Legend of Zelda.

Bill Gates does not just give something expensive – he really studies what people who fall for him are fond of. In 2017, a user of Reddit in a profile admitted her love to cats. And she received from Gates Pushin’s 13-kilogram plush toy, a book about cat shelters, and a snow globe with a toy kitten inside. And it was only part of the gifts.

Snoop Dogg

For two years, the famous rapper participated in Secret Santa from Reddit, sending mainly his merchandise, for example, a T-shirt and slippers. In 2016, he sent this kit to a girl from Alabama, adding a mini quadrocopter and packaging with leaf tea.

Or you can just watch Snoop Dogg announce his participation in Secret Santa.

Adam Savage

The Leader of Legion Breakers is another active RedditGifts user. In 2015, for example, he sent a huge amount of his merch to Reddit. But more interesting is that Savage unpacks the packages from Secret Santa on his YouTube channel, sincerely reacting to every gift.

In 2016, he received a mug, T-shirt and barbecue sauce from Nebraska. In 2017, the Savage Channel team was presented with homemade cookies, and the presenter was presented with a home-made postcard, a C-3PO-style apron, T-shirt, Reddit Mascot Sleep and a notebook with sketches, comics and notes.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

What can a famous actor and former governor of California give? In 2013, a Reddit user received from him candles and a bottle of wine with a signature seal. But most importantly, Schwarzenegger painted her cat. Or at least I tried. And attached a photo proof to the gift.

Lego, Ebay, Xbox and Playstation

Brands are also involved in Secret Santa. Some of them, for example, Lego, do this as part of a collaboration with Reddit: they sent sets to random people with RedditGifts. But the head of Ebay Devin Wenig participated in the exchange of gifts voluntarily. And he sent a 15 kg parcel to a New Yorker.

The girl described herself as a lover of cats and Disney. As a result, she received figurines of characters of her favorite cartoons, a backpack, Disney collectible badges, Minnie Mouse plush ears, a set of lipsticks “for Disney princesses”, the game “Monopoly for Millennials” and a notice of donation to the fund for saving stray cats.

In 2014, a Reddit user discovered that they were sent a Playstation 4 console and a whole set of games. The guy did not know the sender, but commentators helped him – it was Sony Vice President Adam Boyce. And three years later, Microsoft responded: Xbox Live program director Larry Hryb, known as Major Nelson, presented the stranger with Xbox One and 20 games

Unusual gifts of different years

For ordinary users, the possibilities are usually more modest, although someone gives guitars, consoles, laptops and cruise tickets. But more often “Santa” is trying to take creativity – and over the years there have been many examples of unusual gifts.

In the very first year of the project, someone sent a plush shark to a college student with a note “This gift will need surgery.” The recipient conducted the “operation” and took out many small gifts

In 2014, one Reddit user turned receiving a gift into a little adventure: there was a safe and a puzzle of 252 pieces in the package. The puzzle was assembled into a QR code, the transition through which gave access to the combination. And in the safe there are pleasant little things.

Or you can just send 10 kilograms of potatoes if you are a farmer from Idaho.

Don’t like potatoes? Here are 12 bottles of craft beer.

One Reddit user mentioned that he is studying at a film school. And he got a silent film of 1926 on four coils. A projector from which all this can be reproduced was also included.

In 2013, a Reddit user received a makeshift ticket for a free flight as a gift – the sender was fond of aviation. The author of the gift was in another city, so the girl could not use it. But in 2017, four years later, they still met – and the ticket was still valid.

But what happens if you specify in the questionnaire that you love Nicolas Cage.

Some other gifts can be left without comments.

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