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Copyright 2005

Kris Kringle

Historically, the giver of gifts to children during winter (before and after the official birthday of Christ was determined) was either known as Saint Nick (a Catholic Bishop who gave to the poor) or the Lord of Misrule (a pagan fertility figure.)

Eventually, a blending of these two characters created Father Christmas or Santa Claus or Kris Kringle.

There have many variations in the stories about Santa Claus – his clothes, physique, origins, etc, but all seem to agree that he lives in the cold north! All, of course, have him delivering gifts to Children around the world.

In many lands, including Australia, Kris Kringle is no longer a common name for Father Christmas. Instead, it has become a term relating to the sharing out of gift giving.

Often, a large group of people, be it extended family or friends, finds that buying gifts for everyone else in the group becomes expensive and time consuming; in fact, it becomes a chore rather than an act of generosity. In these situations, a Kris Kringle arrangement works well.

Details may vary, but essentially, the Kris Kringle works such that each person only buys one Christmas gift and receives only one also. This reduces the stress and expense of buying for a group, and can make each present more valuable.

Each group can make their rules for Kris Kringle gifts. Some examples are

Includes everyone over 18 – children get individual presents

Each gift is to cost approximately $50.00

Couples aren’t allowed to buy for each other (ie redraw a name)

You can’t buy for the same person two years in a row

No gift vouchers – the present must be tangible

Obscene and bad taste gifts are banned

A General Kris Kringle

Particularly useful for groups where it is unclear how many people will be present, the group agrees to bring a single gift of a certain value that could suit anyone.

At the appropriate time, the gifts are handed out randomly and anonymously. If a Santa is available, he can pull each gift out of his sack and hand them out – it’s not only children who can have fun with at Christmas!

Due to the general nature of this Kris Kringle, the gifts are often fun tokens or treats.

A Specific Kris Kringle

In this case, each person is given a name of someone else in the group to buy a gift for. Often, the names are selected by drawing them out of a hat.

Again, a dollar value is set and the gifts are bought to meet a specific person’s tastes and needs. The gifts are handed to the correct person either anonymously or openly.

One way to keep the gift-buyer anonymous is to have each person pull a named gift tag from the hat that can be used on the wrapped present. This was no one else knows who was selected and not even the hand-writing on the tag will give it away!

Selecting the names at the time you hand out gifts will give each person a whole year in which to select the gift they will give. This allows the gift to be thoughtful and personal, as well as reducing the need for rushing in December.

By allowing everyone to know who is buying for who gives the opportunity to make requests or suggestions for gifts. This is practical and satisfying, but a little less magical. An ideal compromise to know who is buying for whom, but make sure there is a little extra in the present that is unexpected!


Tash Hughes is a Mum of two in Melbourne. She is also a writer and owner of Word Constructions. Tash is available to write articles and profiles for any business, as well as doing other business documentation projects. You can see her site and services at






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