A lot has been written about the “psychology” of gift-giving. There’s a certain thoughtfulness of a person’s individual likes that, when taken into consideration by the gift giver, can make the recipient feel appreciated. The idea that someone put effort into hopefully putting a smile on their face once the wrapping paper comes off is what gift exchanges, like Secret Santa, are all about.
That appears to be the philosophy a TikToker who goes by Star Hollywood (@star_hollywood) has adopted for the holidays and specifically, his workplace’s Secret Santa gift exchange.
As he opines in a viral TikTok clip about the Secret Santa gift he received from someone at his job, some don’t put as much consideration into these exchanges. He airs out his disappointment in a video that’s accrued 12.6 million views, revealing what a co-worker gave him, which he says especially stung given how much effort he placed into his own gift preparation.
“I will not be participating at Secret Santa anymore in any job, any workplace, ever again,” he declares while focusing the camera on a green gift box with a sparkly, silver stick-on bow placed directly on top of it.
Star then goes into why this is the case: “Last Friday everybody supposed to brought they gift,” he explains. “I went all out my way, I put Christmas lights on the bag…Santa paper, I had all kinds of stocking stuffers down in the bag. I put bells on the gift bag. The lady that I got, I went over and beyond.”
The TikToker approached the day of the gift exchange with much excitement. He even donned his most festive ugly Christmas sweater. But he ended up wildly disappointed.
While there may be some who argue that the spirit of the holiday season has been doused by consumerism, Star explains why he decided to put a lot of care into his Secret Santa gift exchange. He notes that some people may not have family and friends to exchange gifts with, or maybe they don’t receive any presents whatsoever.
“I’m excited, you know, it’s Christmas time, some people don’t even get a gift, and secret Santa sometime, that person, they may just get their one gift, so I make sure I always go over and beyond,” he says in the clip. “So, long story short, everybody getting their gifts, everybody exchanging. The lady come up to me she say, ‘Your secret Santa didn’t come to work today but come Monday, and I have your gift.'”
It seems he was initially unfazed by the fact he would receive his gift after the exchange. “All right, cool no big deal,” he says. “I get to work today, I get my gift y’all. She hands me my gift, I open it up, and this is what I have.”
He finally opens the box, revealing an assortment of miniature chocolate candy bars.
“Now, mind you, the limit was $25. Now, I know Reese’s and Hershey’s and Mr. Goodbar, I know they can be kind of on the expensive tip, but I said, ‘Well $25. Maybe she spent a little bit of money on the bow and the box ’cause the box is kind of fancy like. But y’all, I get a box of candy.”
One viewer who responded to Star’s clip discussed how their workplace used an online Secret Santa service called Elfster, which allows folks to put some items on a wish list that fall within the given price range for their gift-givers to choose from. “We started using Elfster for our company secret Santa and you had to get something off of your persons wishlist, for this very reason,” they wrote.
@star_hollywood #fyp #foryoupage #foryourpage #explorepage✨ #secretsanta #secretsanta🎅🎄🎁 #christmas2023 #workchristmasparty #fypage #candy #starhollywood ♬ original sound – Star ⭐️ Hollywood
But there were other TikTokers who shared in Star’s pain and relayed awful Secret Santa experiences of their own. “Our secret Santa was supposed to be $25-$50 and my boss got my name and she gave me a trinket the ones people sell on the corner for $.25 for the blind so I took her gift,” one TikToker replied.
Someone else wrote: “My secret Santa gave me a wool knitted hat. We live in Florida.”
Many others in the comments shared the thoughtless, bizarre, or strange gifts they’ve received from co-workers. “Yeah, my secret Santa didn’t get me anything. I was the only one who didn’t get a gift,” one person wrote.
Some got so burned by Secret Santa exchanges that they swore off them forever, much like Star feels after this incident.
“I don’t play secret Santa anymore!!!! This happens to me !!,” one user wrote.
Another remarked, “I stop playing secret santa since i was in elemantry , i remember my mom went out of her way & i got back a puzzle with missing pieces.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to Star via TikTok comment for further information.