Five Easy Ways to Be a Secret Santa This Holiday Season

santa-clip-art-3.gifReceiving and giving gifts around the holidays to friends and family is insanely routine. It’s a pleasure for many, and a dreaded chore for others. For me, its definitely the latter. But think about how different you feel when you get a gift from someone totally unexpected during the most random time of year. I know that I am more likely to remember when a friend bought me lunch for $20 in April than when I get a new $100 sweater from someone in December. If you are like me, there is fun in finding ways to make memorable moments for people even if you don’t know them. Since the holiday season is supposed to be about fun and giving, I have identified a few ways that you can accomplish both by being a Secret Santa to the public without breaking the bank.
1) Pay the toll for the car behind you when you are traveling assuming that you are in the cash only lane. I mean it really sucks to have to deal with traffic during the holiday season. Can you imagine how happy you made that person behind by forking over $5 for the toll. (may not want to do this on the George Washington Bridge where its like $17 to $100 now to get over)
2) Pay for a large cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts (or Starbucks or Coffee Bean or McDonalds or wherever you get your caffeine fix) for someone when you leave. Don’t worry, the person behind the counter won’t think you are crazy and more often than not they will follow your instructions. If they don’t, then shame on them.
3) Pay for two drinks (alcoholic or non) next time you are sitting down at a restaurant. Make sure the server does not identify you to the recipient of the drinks and do not stare at them while they are consuming them!
4) Pay for two tickets to the movies next time you are standing in line at one of the mega movie complexes. Hopefully you can find an independent small movie theater but sadly, those seem to exist anymore. You can accomplish the same thing by buying two bags of popcorn which will cost you less. (probably not a lot less) But I find the food concession lines at these theaters to be unbearably long and slow so you may not want to put yourself through the aggravation. Again, don’t stand around waiting to see if the recipient of the tickets knows its you that bought them.
5) Pay for someone’s breakfast at the diner. (best to take a look at the prices on the menu first just to make sure the diner doesn’t think Emeril Lagasse is working in the back) But is there a better way to start off someone’s day than having them be told that their meal is free?
If for some reason these Secret Santa suggestions don’t fit your style, then go and find a way to make a difference in someone’s life where it really counts. Donate to a food bank, visit a soup kitchen, give away some toys or buy a meal for a homeless person on the street. Make the holiday season mean something more than just a routine gift exchange. Only corporate America benefits from that.