How many times have you read a news story about how a Reddit user “won the internet” with a gift of extraordinary value from a celebrity? If you haven’t been living under a rock, the answer is probably more than a few.
You probably barely stopped to wonder “What exactly is RedditGifts, anyway?” before going on about your day because “Reddit isn’t for me.” For far too long, I thought the same. But I also (rightfully so) assumed it would be a massive time suck and I didn’t want to even attempt to set up an account and start poking around yet. I decided that, once I had finally graduated college and had some semblance of a normal life, and by this I mean other than going to work or being hunched over a textbook or pages of math (seriously, this is the life of an engineering student), I would treat myself to some unabashed internet diving. I decided I would be smart about it, though; I needed a job in my newly degreed field and I would be responsible and do job hunting before I did anything else. For every new resume tweak, job posting applied to, or employment email sent, I would allow myself a few minutes of reward. The trick is to get in the habit of doing as much up front as possible to justify the eventual rabbit-hole browsing (be honest, how many of you say “just one YouTube video” and look up to realize it has been hours and you are many, many cat videos deep?). See, Mom and Dad, I did listen every time you told me to work before I could play!
When I created my Reddit profile, I found myself gravitating to the engineering boards (known as “subreddits”) – tips on job hunting, resume critiquing, recruiter postings, student life questions, and even project / in-work updates! I was in heaven! Why hadn’t I done this before?! Next thing I knew, it was past midnight and I still had to be up at 5am for my then-current job.
Fast forward a few months and on the front page of my Reddit feed was a post along the lines of “Sign Up Now! Secret Santa 2016 is OPEN!”. This was it – this was the thing I had forgotten I wanted to check out. I clicked over and was in awe. One of the first things I saw was The Gallery, which shows the past gift exchanges, and I was stunned to realize they were year-round events and not just a Christmas thing. People from all over the world were showing off what they received and thanking their sometimes-not-so-anonymous gifters. I was smitten.
I immediately created an account at RedditGifts, which must be linked to a Reddit account, and started looking at the FAQ. Yes, you do need to include a real name and an address (for receiving your gifts), and yes your RedditGifts account is linked to a Reddit account, but only pre-screened moderators and your Secret Santa can access this information. If this worries you, feel free to create a dummy “throwaway” Reddit account; you won’t be the first to do so (this is also beneficial if you have an existing Reddit account that is associated with some questionable browsing). You should then (after account verification) have one shiny credit. This will allow you to sign up for one gift exchange. For successfully completing an exchange, you receive your one credit back while earning one more: a reward for a successful exchange (this is defined as a gift sent to your giftee and a ‘thank you’ written in the gallery).
The gift exchange works like a daisy chain – someone gifts to you, you gift to someone else, they gift to someone else, so on and so forth. On rare occasions, matches happen where you get the same giftee or gifter, or it is someone very local to you; for the most part, the behind-the-scenes algorithm does a decent job of spreading around the love. You can even specially request a match outside your country! (It is advised that this only be done if you are comfortable with higher shipping costs or plan to shop from a local-to-your-giftee shop/online store.) All exchanges (with the exception of 0-Credit exchanges, which are explained later) have a $20 USD suggested minimum gift value. How you determine this on handmade gifts is entirely up to you; this isn’t a hard and fast, verifiable monetary value, merely a guideline for those that need it.
From personal experience, the high of being assigned a random person, looking up their profile information (“social media stalking” is encouraged, but only in so far as to gather information for gifting. Use your best judgment), then deciding what to buy or make, all while keeping in mind the shipping deadline…it is like nothing else. You can choose to reveal yourself (by username or personal name or both) or remain anonymous. I have done both username and anonymous in the few exchanges I have participated in. Having also been paired with some people of radically differing political views was a lesson in patience and perseverance, too.
If you have ever been curious about RedditGifts or were waiting for someone you know to say “Hey, I’ve done this thing!” before signing up yourself, please don’t wait any longer! The new batch of exchanges is in sign-up phase NOW. For your convenience, I’ve included a list of these exchanges below – AND this current round included a 0-Credit exchange, which means you won’t spend your shiny new user credit. It also means that if, for any reason, you don’t complete the exchange, you won’t be banned (please do finish your exchanges, even the 0-Credit exchanges! On the credit-requiring exchanges, the threat of being banned helps guarantee everyone plays nice and upholds their end of the exchange). I should also mention there are “tiers” within the exchanges; sometimes there are options to spend more credits on an exchange to be paired with other heavy-credit spenders (the same $20 USD suggested minimum is still in effect, so don’t expect to make bank on gifts received).
Feel free to dig through the FAQ on your own and learn about Elf status, the gift awards you may see in the gallery, and all about Rematching. The subreddit for RedditGifts is r/SecretSanta, and the moderators are always hanging around, so feel free to say hello, introduce yourself, and ask any questions you have. Maybe I’ll see you around there sometime?
- Current round Sign Ups end May 7, 2017
- Matching Day is May 8, 2017
- Shipping Deadline is May 26, 2017This is a soft deadline, but please try to stick to it.
- Send A Haiku
- Earth Day
- Maker Exchange (DIY)
- Pens & Stationery
- Simple Pleasures
- Vinyl Record
- Wet Shaving
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