How My Recycled Secret Santa Saved Christmas

Recycled Secret Santa

Secret Santa: The art of giving a mid gift, the art of receiving a mid gift. Since at least 1741, both friend groups and work colleagues alike have been anonymously exchanging Christmas presents, with the members of these groups often being forced to buy one gift for another person. Typically, these gifts are cheap, plastic, treasured for a moment, and then landfill for the rest of time. 

Secret Santa
The Retro Store

According to Revolve Recycling, Aussies discard around $400 million worth of unwanted gifts every year. There’s no doubt that Secret Santa silly straws, Secret Santa candles, and Secret Santa t-shirts all contribute to this waste. 

But what if there was a better way? What if there was a way of receiving something lit, all while saving an unloved gem from becoming landfill?

Well fortunately for us, such a game now exists. And it’s called Recycled Secret Santa. 

What’s a Recycled Secret Santa? 

A Recycled Secret Santa works just like a regular Secret Santa. However, instead of buying a gift nobody wants, you instead re-gift an item from your home. Not only does this remove a price limit, it can also delay a product from being discarded. After all, your unwanted junk could be another person’s wildest dream.

The aim of a Recycled Secret Santa is to have a mint time while also reflecting on how we can be more sustainable in our everyday lives. While our roles in Australia’s sustainability journey are often small and lightweight, it can still be empowering to do our own part.

So, with all of this in mind, I decided to host my own Recycled Secret Santa. I wanted to learn if this sustainability bonanza was for me.

My Recycled Secret Santa Experience

On December 19, a whack of my friends came over and we all gathered under my Christmas coat rack. Why a coat rack? Well, because I forgot to buy a Christmas tree for the night. But let’s just say that I was trying to be more sustainable. 

Recycled Secret Santa presents
Joel Burrows

The hue of the Christmas lights glowed across all our presents, and the Star of David shone bright. 

Simon, Katie, Andy, Izy, and I were all sitting in a circle, all nervous for what was about to begin. Have we gifted the right gifts? What if we loathe what we score? What if this Recycled Secret Santa is a bust, and this article then falls to bits?

However, there was no time like the present. We let Katie open her gift first. We dived into the Secret Santa fray.

Katie’s Gift – Marianna Lemos’ Evil Eye Bracelet

Marianna Lemos’ Evil Eye Bracelet
Marianna Lemos

Why Santa Gifted This Gift: 

“While I loved my bracelet, it has never fit on my wrists. Instead of throwing it away, I wanted to give it to someone who could treasure it.”

Katie’s Reaction:

Joel Burrows

Katie loved her new trinket. She’s travelling overseas next year and believes that the golden eye in the centre will ward off bad luck. What’s more, this bracelet actually fits on her wrist.

Izy’s Gift – Pulp by Ed Brubaker

Image Comics

Why Santa Gifted This Gift: 

“I love this Wild West comic, but I have way too many books. And honestly, I already have a couple from the same author, and it’s nice to pass this one along. If I want it again, I’ll just buy it again.”

Izy’s Reaction:

Joel Burrows

When Izy opened this gift, she screamed, cried, and threw up. 

“I’ve always wanted to read more graphic novels,” Izy said. “It looks sick.”

Andy’s Gift – Pictionary Mania

Pictionary Mania!

Why Santa Gifted This Gift: 

“I am trying to get rid of a lot of my possessions because I’m moving overseas. I love board games, and I think the best gift is a gift you can share. Additionally, I thought that board games are a good childhood present to open at Christmas.”

Andy’s Reaction:

Joel Burrows

Much to Santa’s delight, Andy’s adult face transformed into the face of a five-year-old. He immediately flung the wrapping paper to his right and was transfixed by the retro dust on his box.

“I need nothing more than this,” Andy said. “It smells like old plastic. It feels nostalgic, even though I’ve never played the Mania version.”

Simon’s Gift – Between Us by Various Artists

Between Us
Australian Theatre for Young People

Why Santa Gifted This Gift: 

“In 2015, the Australian Theatre for Young People published Between Us, an anthology of dramatic monologues. This anthology contains scripts written by a bunch of Aussie playwrights, including Disapol Savetsila, Fiona Spitzkowsky, and Joel Burrows.

“For some reason, I have a bunch of copies still bumping around my workshop. Because Simon is an actor, I thought he could use some of these monologues when he auditions.”

Simon’s Reaction:

Joel Burrows

When Simon grabbed his copy of Between-Us, he was like a rat with a big wheel of brie. His hands clamoured around the cover, and he immediately devoured each word. 

“This book has my favourite people on Earth in it,” Simon said. “Plus a couple more monologues for my utility belt.”

My Gift – The Megaman Card Game and a Lemon

The Megaman game

Why Santa Gifted This Gift: 

“I gave these Megaman Cards away because I didn’t know what to do with them. I thought that someone here might be excited by them, excited enough to learn how to play them. And I hope there is a Megaman card game resurgence. I want it to be as big as Yu-Gi-Oh.

“Oh, I also gave the lemon ‘cause Megaman shoots lemons in the first game.”

My Reaction:

Joel Burrows

It’s currently December 20, the day after I organised my Recycled Secret Santa party. But did I like my present? Well, I keep inspecting my collection with glee. 

I unironically love obscure card games. I’ve never heard of the Megaman card game before, so I’m so stoked it exists. I’m also super excited to force my family to play a few Boxing Day games over lunch. 

My Recycled Secret Santa Thoughts

Overall, I thought that my Recycled Secret Santa was a massive success. Not only did everyone froth over their gifts, but we’ve saved a few items from an early grave. What’s more, everyone wants to do one again sometime next year.

I therefore award my Recycled Secret Santa experience an A. Nah, an A+.

Related: Why You Should You Eat Crunchy, Crisp Crickets at Christmas

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Scoring an Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.