Secret Santa Origins: How The Tradition Of Kindness Began


Secret Santa
Secret Santa

Secret Santa gift exchanges have become as integral to the holiday season as ugly Christmas sweaters and festive decorations. These heartwarming events bring communities together, spreading joy and creating lasting memories. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the roots of the Secret Santa tradition and its unique connection to the warm-hearted state of North Carolina.

How it Began

It all started in December 1979, in the heart of Kansas City, when Larry Dean Stewart faced a tough situation – he lost his job. On a chilly night, feeling the sting of adversity, Stewart spotted a waitress braving the cold in a thin, worn-out jacket. Struck by inspiration, he decided to flip the script on his misfortune and make it a mission to spread joy to others.

Every December thereafter, Stewart hit the streets, like a holiday superhero in disguise, secretly handing out USD 100 bills to those in need. His acts of kindness, done anonymously, turned him into a modern folk legend, earning him the title of the original Secret Santa.

The Tradition Lives On

What began as a local tradition in the Western world has now blossomed into a global phenomenon. Today, people from all corners of the globe eagerly participate in the Secret Santa exchange, adding a sprinkle of mystery and generosity to their holiday celebrations. Smita Ganguli, a journalist from Mumbai, shares that in her workplace, the annual Secret Santa event is the highlight of December, with colleagues buzzing in excitement.

The North Carolina Connection:

North Carolina Tradition:

The charming state of North Carolina has a knack for turning generosity into an art form. It’s not just about sweet tea and southern hospitality; it’s about embracing the true spirit of giving. The Secret Santa exchanges here are like the grand finale of a holiday fireworks display, dazzling and heartwarming.

Generosity in the Air:

If you’ve ever been to North Carolina during the holidays, you’ll know there’s something magical in the air. It’s not just the scent of pine trees; it’s the aroma of selflessness and kindness. The Secret Santa exchanges are a testament to the community’s commitment to spreading happiness and goodwill.

bservance in Various Settings

Secret Santa doesn’t limit itself to office spaces. It has embraced schools and friendships, creating a sense of unity and joy that transcends formal settings. Tithi Joshi, a student from Lucknow, reveals that her class sets a modest price limit of INR 500 to ensure everyone can join the festive fun.

Secret Santa
Secret Santa

Protecting Personal Information:

‘Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information’ Notice:

In this digital age, where your online presence feels like it’s attended every family gathering, it’s essential to address the elephant in the room — personal information. We, like good Secret Santas, promise not to spill the beans. Your secrets are safe with us.

Use of Cookies and Similar Technologies:

Just like grandma’s secret cookie recipe, we use cookies and similar technologies to make your online experience sweeter. They’re not the chocolate chip kind, but they do help us tailor your experience and keep things personal (in a good way).

The Largest Secret Santa Exchange

In 2013, the internet took Secret Santa to new heights. Reddit, the online community, organized a monumental Secret Santa exchange involving nearly 90,000 participants, officially breaking the Guinness World Record. It turns out, even the tech giant Bill Gates couldn’t resist the allure of this age-old tradition, regularly participating in the Reddit exchange. It’s a reminder that no matter how high-tech our lives get, a good old Secret Santa exchange always hits the right notes.

Brands, ever quick to spot a trend, have hopped onto the Secret Santa sleigh as well. E-commerce platforms now feature dedicated Secret Santa categories during the holiday season, turning a once informal tradition into a full-fledged festive event.

Legacy of Larry Dean Stewart

Larry Dean Stewart, the man who started it all, sadly passed away in 2007 due to esophageal cancer at the age of 58. Just before bidding farewell, he revealed his identity as the original Secret Santa. But his legacy lives on. In his hometown of Kansas City, the spirit of giving continues through anonymous donations to those in need, keeping alive the essence of Stewart’s simple yet profound act of kindness.

Understanding State Privacy Laws:

State Privacy Laws:

States like California and Virginia have become the holiday grinches for companies misbehaving with user data. They’ve laid down the law to protect your information, making sure it’s not treated like a fruitcake passed around without consent.

Secret Santa
Secret Santa

User Rights:

In this season of giving, your rights matter. State Privacy Laws give you the power to say, “No, thank you” to the selling or sharing of your personal information. It’s like saying, “I appreciate the gesture, but I’ll pass on the fruitcake.”

Opting Out and Its Implications:

Opt-Out Mechanism:

So, you’ve decided to be the Scrooge to targeted advertising. No worries! We’ve got a toggle switch just for you. Opting out won’t turn off the holiday lights; it just dims the personalized ads. You’ll still get the full experience without feeling like you’re being watched by elves.

No Disruption to Website Functionality:

Opting out won’t turn your online experience into a puzzle missing pieces. The essential cookies, like the glue holding the gingerbread house together, stay intact. So, feel free to browse without fear of stumbling upon a broken website.

California Residents and Global Privacy Control (GPC):

Global Privacy Control (GPC):

For our friends in California, we’ve got something special for you. If you’re using a supported browser and enable GPC, it’s like sending a letter to Santa, requesting no ads in your stocking. Check out for your golden ticket.

Understanding GPC:

Think of GPC as your digital cloak of invisibility. It lets you control how your personal information is used for advertising purposes. It’s like telling Santa exactly what kind of presents you want without the elves eavesdropping.

Managing Consent Preferences:

Consent Preferences Management:

We believe in giving you the reins to your online sleigh. Navigate through our consent preferences like a seasoned reindeer herder. Tailor your experience and make it as snug as a warm blanket on a winter night.

Cookie Categories:

Strictly Necessary Cookies:

These cookies are the unsung heroes, ensuring the website sleigh glides smoothly. Blocking them is like trying to navigate a one-horse open sleigh without jingle bells.

Sale of Personal Data – Targeting Cookies:

Targeting cookies are like the elves working behind the scenes to personalize your experience. Opting out reduces their mischief, but the show goes on, just with fewer surprises.

Performance Cookies:

Performance cookies are the reindeer, helping the sleigh soar through the digital skies. Disabling them won’t make the sleigh crash, but it might feel like flying without that magical boost.

What is the origin of Secret Santa?

Secret Santa originated in 1979 when Larry Dean Stewart began anonymously giving USD 100 bills to those in need during December.

How has the tradition evolved over time?

Initially a Western tradition, Secret Santa has become a global phenomenon, observed in various settings, including workplaces, schools, and friendships.

Are there any famous participants in the Secret Santa exchange?

Yes, Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder and philanthropist, is known for regularly participating in the Reddit Secret Santa exchange.

What is the significance of setting price limits for Secret Santa gifts?

Price limits, such as the INR 500 upper limit mentioned by Tithi Joshi, ensure accessibility and inclusivity, allowing more people to participate in the tradition.


In the spirit of the holidays and inspired by the North Carolina tradition of Secret Santa, we want you to know your privacy matters. Like a perfectly wrapped gift, we’re committed to transparency and giving you the power to shape your online experience. So, as you embark on your digital sleigh ride, rest assured that we’ve got your back.

In the end, the tradition of Secret Santa is more than just a festive exchange of gifts—it’s a celebration of generosity and the human spirit. Larry Dean Stewart’s simple act of kindness has become a global phenomenon, uniting people from different walks of life in the spirit of giving. As we exchange gifts and share smiles during the holiday season, let’s remember the man who started it all and the magic of a well-kept secret wrapped in holiday cheer. After all, in the world of Secret Santa, every gift is a surprise, and every surprise is a small dose of joy. Happy gifting!

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