This article originally appeared in the War on Christmas Issue.


You know three things about her: her name is Karen, she works in accounting, and you’ve been tasked with buying her a Secret Santa gift. Here is the Yale Record’s official guide for what to get her.

A framed photo of Karen’s family from her cubicle: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but could require some logistical planning. You’ll need to figure out when Karen eats lunch, which cubicle is hers, and which picture of her family is her favorite. You’ll also need to make it clear to her cubicle-mates that you’re stealing the picture as a Secret Santa gift and not because you just like to look at pictures of her kids. Try making a face that expresses your distaste for her children’s appearance so that your intentions are clear.

One of those cookie recipe in a mason jar things: The cookie-in-a-jar thing is pretty cliche, so add a personal touch by taking some liberties with the recipe. For example, instead of depositing ingredients in exact amounts, just layer in flour and cocoa powder until it looks nice. You want Karen to at least fake a smile when she opens it, like she did last year when Charles from HR gave her a candle. Jesus, Charles. How desperate do you have to be to give someone a candle for Secret Santa?

Literally anything that you stole from her cubicle and wrapped up: If you want to make things easy, just sweep the contents of her desk into a fancy gift basket.

A candle: Listen, we’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel on this one. The only thing you know about Karen is that she’s going through a brutal divorce after a blowout with her husband at the Wisconsin Dells Kalahari Waterpark Resort last March, information you only heard secondhand from her son Jimmy after you found him sobbing in front of the water fountain on Take Your Kid To Work Day. Just keep it simple and go with the candle. Heck, you probably already have one buried in your closet from last year’s Secret Santa. Not only will you be giving Karen the fresh yet comforting scent of Apple Cinnamon Pine Mint Fireplace, you’ll also be giving her a dynamite backup present for next year. Literally the gift that keeps on giving.


—A. Dalianis