Ah, Christmas. A time for food, family and everyone’s favourite office pastime – the Secret Santa. If you don’t know it already, Secret Santa is a tradition where people taking part are randomly assigned someone to buy a gift for. This person could be a schoolmate or colleague – or if you’re taking part in Reddit’s annual Secret Santa – it could be some total stranger on the internet.
Reddit is a huge forum with hundreds of millions of users – and each year as many as 80,000 of them sign up to send each other gifts – everything from $5000 art nouveau statues to cans of fermented Swedish fish. Well I guess that’s the magic of Christmas! But it’s not just online weirdos who take part; some users have been matched with A-list celebrities – and the results have been full of festive cheer. Mostly.
So, let’s see just how generous some of the wealthiest celebrities really are, and find out why Bill Gates might just be the cheapest secret Santa ever.
Man-mountain Shaquille O’Neal is most well-known for his lifetime career as an NBA basketball player and sports commentator. But when he’s not shooting hoops and filling up on protein, he’s reading your Reddit profile!
Well, at least he would be if he was matched with you on Reddit’s Secret Santa – because it looks like Shaq is an old hand at giving personalised and thoughtful Christmas gifts. In 2013, the retired b-ball star sent lucky redditor mjollnir79 a Star Wars book, pack of Count of Monte Christo playing cards, and a framed, autographed picture of himself. Nice.
When Reddit user kerrielpn opened her Xmas gifts she was probably expecting some toiletries or another novelty book about Star Wars. You know, Secret Santa stuff.
Instead, she found a box bearing the official seal of the Governor of California. The movie star also sent a card, a charity donation in her name, a large candle and a bottle of wine. But nestled between all that was the pièce de résistance. The Terminator had hand drawn her a picture of a cat – complete with a photo of him drawing it.
For an Austrian bodybuilder who became a movie star and then the governor of the most populous US state – nothing should be strange. But yet…it still is.
The host of MythBusters – Adam Savage – is also a keen forum user, and in 2017 the wise elves at Reddit paired him up with Sean Murphy and his three kids. He sent them a box with MythBusters bags and merchandise for his kids, as well as a knife and road spikes – presumably not for his kids.
Who knows though, Adam Savage is an outdoor kind of a guy – maybe he figured a knife would be handy to take camping. Still not sure how road spikes could be used responsibly though.
But despite giving sharp objects to kids, this was a genuinely nice gesture from the bearded ginger TV star – even if feels kind of like he just got his secretary to bung a load of unsold merchandise in the mail. Because what really makes a good secret Santa is thoughtfulness – and the…personal touch.
“What up Erin. Merry Xmizzle to you and your fam! Even a boss lady like you need to kick back and relax sometimes. Hope you like these goodies I chose for you. Keep ya head up and stay on your grind in 2017. Your Santa – Snoop Dogg”.
These were the words that stared up at one lucky forum user the moment they realised Reddit had paired them with gangsta rapper Snoop Dogg. The Death Row Records platinum-selling artist had sent a box with a few surprising items inside. He’d packed a drone and some Snoop Dogg merchandise, but also a few things you wouldn’t associate with a world-famous gang-affiliated millionaire weed-smoker. He sent a nice pair of cozy slippers, some tea and – bizarrely – baby powder.
I wonder if this is a new, sensitive side to Snoop we’ve never seen before… or perhaps he knew he couldn’t send drugs or bundles of cash through the mail. Let’s hope it’s the first option – he’d suit a nice pair of slippers anyway.
British TV survival star Bear Grylls is no stranger to difficult situations. But I wonder how easy he found picking out gifts for an ordinary member of the public. Because that’s just what he had to do when he was paired up with reddit user Iowan.
Faced with the insurmountable challenge in front of him, the seasoned survivalist appears to have simply sent….a load of his DVDs and books.
A nice gesture, but how I hope the family who received his gifts finished their Christmas dinner before they read all about how to drink your own urine and eat dead animals.
Mark McGrath is the singer of the well-known band Sugar Ray. And the gift he sent to Redditor 23portwas a bit of a confusing one. When McGrath found out that his match’s favorite show was RuPaul’s Drag Race, the Sugar Ray frontman managed to find an autographed photo of one of the show’s judges, Michelle Visage.
Now that’s a great gift – it was tailored to his match’s interests and really showed he’d thought about it. But the weird thing is he didn’t send anything else. No Sugar Ray merchandise or even a frame around the picture. Just a photo of… a different celebrity. Still probably better than a deodorant gift set from your Auntie Doris though…
Bill Gates’ Secret Santa
Now, if you’re hoping for a good Reddit Secret Santa this year, surely you’ll be hoping for a gift from someone uniquely capable of giving great gifts. It’s OK to be selfish – its Christmas, I understand. So you could do a lot worse than being matched with the richest man on Earth at the time. Now if anyone can give good gifts – you’d think it would be him.
Owner of Microsoft, entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Gates is worth a whopping $75 billion dollars. He also has a long history of taking part in Reddit’s Secret Santa each year, and his gifts have got steadily more impressive.
In 2013, in his first year being a mystery Santa, Gates was pretty restrained in his generosity. He sent user NY1227a book, a toy cow, and a donation to Heifer International, a charity that provide animals and farming equipment to rural communities in need.
However, he noticeably ignored a request for an iPad – the well-known tablet made by his biggest competitor, Apple. NY1227 wrote back to Bill in her thank-you post apologising for the request, saying “That was really awkward.”
In 2014 Gates bought user calid7 a horned helmet like the Marvel character Loki’s, and a big fancy book of photographs of Africa, which he also autographed. He continued his trend of including donations, and sent a chunk of money to a program for providing disadvantaged kids with free vaccines.
Roll on to 2015 and Gates started to step things up a notch, donating to a Malaria charity and gifting a brand-new tent, climbing kit and an outdoor chair, after learning about NayaTheNinja’s trip to Zambia.
He even sent her a link to a personalised Spotify playlist – presumably containing hits like “Money Money Money” and “Software is a Man’s Best Friend”.
2016 was a chance for Gates to plug a few of his own products, as he soon learned Reddit user Aerrix is a big fan of the Xbox – Microsoft’s very own gaming console. So this one was easy for him, and he sent a limited edition Minecraft Xbox, special-edition wireless controllers, a Nintendo entertainment system, a pair of slippers, a Zelda blanket, matching Zelda mittens for her and her dog, and a bunch of DVDs.
Not only this, Gates also threw in a few very thoughtful gifts. Seeing that his match came from Louisiana, he sent a Cajun cookbook to remind her of home.
Again, the billionaire also donated to a charity – this time to help disadvantaged kids learn to code computers. I wonder if the matches from 2013, 2014 and 2015 were jealous.
So when it came round to 2017, it’s easy to understand why Reddit would be pretty excited to see what he had in store for the festive season. Well… he certainly upped the ante. Redditor VietteLLC woke up one morning to see a giant delivery truck pull up on her lawn, and the driver get out and begin heaping huge boxes up on her doorstep. Soon she was busy opening the boxes and would’ve been stunned to discover who had sent them.
First, as an animal lover, VietteLLC was pleased to see Gates’ had continued his tradition of sending charity donations – this year in the form of 3 different cat charities, both receiving sums of $250 each. Also, a one-of-a-kind cross-stitch of her, her friend Bill and her 4 cats that says “Live Life in the Meow”. He also sent a personalised Japanese Daruma doll, a $150 gift card – that could even be spent on an iPad – surprise surprise – and a whole bunch of tshirts and merchandise for her favourite bands and video games.
But the biggest and most impressive personal touch was a gigantic, 30lb Pusheen doll. This internet-famous cat is a big deal for a lot of people – and this one was literally huge. It’s about the size of an adult man, and probably 30 times bigger than any pet cat ever should be.
Above all, Bill Gates’ gift-match was really moved by the attention to detail – the delicate wrapping and the use of decorative cat-themed sticky tape to put it all together. And she loved the thought that sometime during her busy week, Bill Gates was being photographed smiling next to a gigantic Pusheen cat that would one day be filling her entire sofa.
Now it’s exactly this kind of thing that makes Christmas so special – but before this video gets too soppy, it’s time to apply some cold, hard, Grinch-like cynicism.
Is Bill Gates the Cheapest Secret Santa?
Bill Gates is the richest man on earth, a multi-billionaire that can afford more or less anything he wants. So how much did his 2017 Secret Santa cost? I’ve worked it out, and the Microsoft owner spent $750 in donations, $400 for the giant Pusheen, 150 for the gift card, 50 for the extra bits, and say, 200 for the books and cross-stitch. That brings us up to a total of 1550. Now things might have cost a bit more, plus the postage to ship it all, so let’s say $2000.
Now Bill Gates earns 11.5 billion in a year, which means he spent 0.000017% of his yearly wage. Or 0.000002% of his total worth. Now this might not be a particularly festive way of looking at things, but imagine you earn 50,000 dollars a year, and choose to spend $40 on your Secret Santa – which is the minimum Reddit suggests. That works out that the average middle income Reddit user spends 0.08% of their income on their Secret Santa.
So, despite Bill Gates buying all these expensive gifts, he’s actually spending far less than everyone else – relative to their income. In fact, he’s spending 4,706 times less.
Bill Gates could afford to buy every single man woman and child in the town of Madison, Georgia a giant Pusheen for Christmas every year and he wouldn’t be spending any more than the average Joe down the street.
So, is this a Christmas rip-off? Or am I totally missing the point of the holiday season? What do you think? Should Bill Gates be spending more on his Secret Santa? Or should we just be grateful for the turkey crumbs that fall from his solid gold dinner table? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section down below!