Canned asparagus, ant farm among Canadians’ strangest Secret Santa gifts


It’s that magical time of year when the carols start to play, the snow starts to fall and…the most bizarre and awkward gifts are exchanged with acquaintances and co-workers.

Secret Santa: the gift exchange everyone loves to hate. It’s the holiday event that tests participants’ creativity and ability to feign gratitude, tasking them with buying gifts for people they barely know while spending under $20.

A new survey by AIR MILES reveals what many of us already know: 93 per cent of the 2,006 Canadians polled have received a bad Secret Santa gift.

The survey – conducted by Ipsos Reid – was released Thursday, just in time for your office Christmas party. It focused on Secret Santas in classrooms, offices and with extended families across the country.

Some of the worst gifts Canadians said they received?

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  • A tire pressure gauge;
  • Toilet paper;
  • A broken light bulb.

Some of the weirdest?

  • Canned asparagus;
  • Ant farms
  • A crab-shaped ashtray;
  • An old cassette player;
  • An ostrich-feather pen.

One Global News employee even admitted to wrapping up a grocery store cake to give as a Secret Santa present.

The situation took a turn for the worse when participants started shaking the wrapped gifts to make better-educated selections. Understandably, the cake recipient was not pleased. The giver, however, was shamelessly thrilled.

“It was the best Christmas gift I’ve ever given,” said Global Edmonton reporter/anchor Kent Morrison.

The survey found 44 per cent of people like participating in Secret Santas; 25 per cent said the worst part is receiving a present they don’t want.

READ MORE: Reddit user shocked to receive Secret Santa gift from Bill Gates 

“Secret Santa is a beloved tradition for many Canadians, but there can be those awkward interactions that come with it,” said Rachel MacQueen, vice president of marketing with the AIR MILES Reward Program. “We wanted to find out exactly what Canadians enjoy, and at the same time, what makes them cringe about being involved in a Secret Santa gift exchange.

Nearly half of respondents (44 per cent) have re-gifted an item and 35 per cent said they don’t even feel guilty re-gifting.

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Thirty per cent said they dislike buying for someone they don’t know and 16 per cent the worst part was staying under a price limit.