30 November

A KO for KK

If you don’t want to have an office Kris Kringle (because it’s a wanton waste of the world’s resources and your money to buy someone a stupid, cheap present they don’t want and won’t use)[1] mention it now before anyone gets stuck into the planning. Things to think about:

  • If everyone else loves it, accept the majority verdict with good grace.[2]
  • But you could suggest White Elephant (see 27 September), which, while not as good as Reducing, is at least Reusing.[3]
  • Would buying presents for a charity and putting them under your office Christmas tree be a reasonable alternative?[4]

And remember to put up your Advent calendar![5]

A universal KK present?

I asked Jeremy what he was doing for his seven-month anniversary today and he just said, “Seven is no big deal. Maybe we’ll go to the movies.”

Sometimes I find it difficult to keep up!

[1] You’d think this argument would persuade everyone, but it doesn’t.

[2] My friend Fiona’s brother-in-law Tim tried to sabotage his office’s Kris Kringle by giving his Kris-ee a particularly horrible present, but that didn’t work either. (And the deliberately awful present he chose wasn’t even the worst in the room.)

[3] And not quite as offensive as the Reusing approach an ex-colleague of mine took: he opened his present, looked at it with disdain, reached for his tape dispenser, rewrapped it immediately in the same paper, wrote the next year’s date on the gift tag, and put it straight back under the tree.

[4] The answer to this question is “No” because far more people than you could reasonably expect, expect to find something good when they unwrap their KK gift.

[5] My son Jeremy was angling for an Advent calendar that has a different craft beer every day but when I said he’d have to fund it himself, he was willing to stick with the picture Advent calendar I’d chosen (but not before checking if there were any chocolate pretzel Advent calendars on the market. (There aren’t.))


1 November – Cup Day

Drawing it out

If you’re Kris Kringling,[1] you need to allocate the names and you will need some practical rules, for example, that you can’t draw anyone from your own household.[2] You can do the draw virtually (by phone or email) but it works best if you can do it in person because then, if someone chooses their own spouse, they can say, “Oh no, that’s my wife!” and immediately exchange recipient.[3] So if you’re all going to be together someday soon, (someone’s birthday? Cup Day barbecue?) set aside a little time for Kris.

And if you’ve agreed to have a present moratorium (where no-one buys things for themselves in December), this is a good time to remind people of that too.

As it’s the first of the month, add October notes and photos to your letter notes, provided they beat the ones you already have.


Jessica, one of the social club ingénues, is becoming quite practical. She has suggested that we hold the Christmas party in the conference room, thus eliminating venue hire, make the cocktails ourselves, thus keeping our bar tab to bottle shop prices and put on our own floor show.[4] But she won’t let go of the red velvet drapes and she hasn’t left any of the budget for food. (Food is appropriate at every social event you can think of – from football matches to funerals – and should be mandatory if you’re planning to drown the attendees in Manhattans and mai tais.)

[1] With your family, or with people who were called a “friendship group” when my children were at school but were just called “friends” in my own schooldays.

[2] My cousin Bronwyn’s in-laws had a secret rule that only the grandparents could be assigned to Fussy John because they were the only ones willing to put it up with his very exacting specifications for everything from DIY tools to polo shirts.

[3] I am assuming here that each nuclear family still gives presents to those in their own house, but this may not be the way you chose to do it. (I’ve certainly heard my cousin Russell say that he’d like an excuse not to give presents to his mother, because she already owns every quilting accessory in the world and doesn’t have room to store anything else.)

[4] I immediately volunteered to be stage manager because I’m afraid she’s still hankering after burlesque and, while I assure you that my underwear is respectable, none of it makes it to the “beguiling” category.