‘The way my MIL runs Secret Santa is ridiculous. How do I tell her it’s strange?’

There are but three rules to a successful Secret Santa:

1. All participants must be willing, not coerced, into a game of Secret Santa.

2. Participants must ALL agree on the set price of a gift (to avoid resentment building).

3. Once you're in, you're in. No backing out, no spilling who you have and NO cheating.

When one rule isn't followed, Secret Santa is guaranteed to flop.

Watch: Mamamia Confessions: Our Worst Christmas Gifts. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

It was the exact situation for one Mamamia Outloud community member, who shared what it was like to be forced to take part in an expensive Kris Kringle.

"My husband’s mother runs a Secret Santa with her side of the family every year," the woman, who chose to remain anonymous, wrote. "Her family is very large and they add children who turn 18 years old to the list each year, plus any new partners or spouses."

Oh and the gift price? It's $120 per person.

"This means that my husband and I end up spending $240 as a pair on his extended family members, some of whom I have only met once or not at all," she continued, adding that she felt the situation was unfair.


"I think this is bonkers as we have young children and that’s a lot of money to spend. There are also 18-year-olds purchasing $120 gifts for their partners' uncles or aunts in their 50+, which I think is a bit strange."


After speaking to her mother-in-law, who felt the situation wasn't unfair or odd, she felt confused about where she stood.

"Am I alone in thinking this is strange?"

Soon enough, dozens of other women who had plenty of their own Secret Santa horror stories came forward to argue that they felt it was a bizarre demand of her mother-in-law to make.

One mum suggested using the cost-of-living crisis as a way to opt out of the expensive gift exchange.

"Surely others feel the same and a majority should win," she wrote. "Talk to everyone involved. Not just your MIL."

Another told the poster to target huge discount sales when shopping for gifts. 

"You don't actually need to spend $120 per person," she wrote. "Can you just buy something that's heavily discounted?"

Others acknowledged the $120 budget was too high, arguing it felt "excessive". 


"That's a huge budget," one woman wrote. "I'd personally opt my partner out of Secret Santa and make it so a gift would be from both of us. One gift each seems excessive. The limit for my extended family is strictly $50 MAX so if people can't afford that much, it is okay."

Someone else said it wasn't the MIL that was the issue but the $120 budget.

"That's outrageous in these current economic times. I bet everyone participating would be happy for it to be lowered to something more reasonable like $30-$50," the comment read.

"If you feel strongly, there's nothing wrong with telling your MIL that you can't afford it this year and prefer to opt out completely. You'll contribute some baked goods to go around instead, perhaps."

Many agreed with that point of view and others shared their similar experiences. 

"My family has a similar system to this, except it’s a $100 limit for adults and $50 for kids," one parent shared. "The adults buy and receive as a couple, kids become adults and start contributing once they are working – so some stay 'kids' longer, as they’re at university.

"And this year, we have opted to have the kids participate in Secret Santa but not my husband nor I. Everyone should have the chance to opt out!"

Feature Imager: Getty/Mamamia.

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