Secret Santa (formerly Reindeer Games)

Cidu Bill on Dec 17th 2012

If you’ve ever worked in an office, or lived in a college dorm, you’ve probably encountered the Secret Santa phenomenon: you’re given the name of a random person, and told to buy a present for him or her.

And that’s what several dozen CIDU members inadvertently signed up for: they were each assigned a comic strip character (from one of their favorite strips), and told to choose the perfect holiday gift (with a $25 spending limit).

In no special order, this is what you came up with:

  • Angie Green shopped for Davan (from Something*Positive): I think I’d get Davan a t-shirt from Think Geek. He loves RPGing with his friends, so I like this one: was a close one with this one, though:

    Especially since Jason and Aubrey are in Texas for Christmas. I feel like he’s gonna want to game with them while they’re there.

  • Joe Genlenas shopped for Mary Lou (from Arlo and Janis): Mary Lou has lived her life on the seashore, but a lot of that time has been spent working. Gus mentioned that he didn’t want to give the boat to Gene because he was afraid that Mary Lou might be tiring of the coastal life. It occurred to me that learning something about the sands she has walked might combat the fatigue and be enjoyable. So I came up with two things: a foldable, waterproof guide to shells to use on her walks, “Shells of Florida - Gulf of Mexico: A Beachcomber’s Guide to Common and Notable Species [Pamphlet]” (, coupled with Smithsonian Handbooks: Shells ( for more relaxed reading.
  • Hans Oeter Verne shopped for Elly (from For Better or For Worse): $25 isn’t that much. I think I’d buy her a lava lamp, they seem to be available in for that price. It’s a classic piece from the days of her youth, but getting fashionable again these days (or so I think).
    Anyway, who wouldn’t want a lava lamp?
  • travel-tumbler.jpgMary Kiefel shopped for Monty (from Monty): I would give Monty one of those ceramic double-walled tumblers with a silicone lid for his coffee/tea/beverage, along with a $10 gift card to the coffee shop where Gretchen works.The tumbler would have Monty’s picture on it with his name “Monty” below his picture. When the tumbler gets hot from the beverage, Gretchen’s picture appears next to Monty’s.

    I was thinking of having “& Gretchen” appear below her picture, but decided that might be going too far.

  • Steve shopped for Peter Fox (from Fox Trot): Peter Fox loves food. I share that with him. I think I would buy the ingredients for and make for him a pan of my favorite recipe of Sausage Apple Pizza. I think he would enjoy it for the 5 minutes it would last.
  • Alison Furlong shopped for Faz (from Shortpacked): OK, after racking my brain (and my Amazon search skills) to come up with something appropriate for Faz, I gave up and decided to get something inappropriate. Behold: the Kama Sutra, in cartoon form:
  • Barry shopped for Thorax (from 9 Chickweed Lane): Thorax gets an Uncle Sam bobblehead ($9.98). I t would make an excellent addition to his roadside stand o’wisdom. What American could argue with anything he says when one of our National symbols is always in agreement?In addition, a poster of Thorax’s face on Mt. Rushmore, suitable for coloring. (About $13 at Walmart). That gives him the national recognition he so greatly deserves. Attachment is the poster.
  • Shawn shopped for Meg (from Arlo and Janis): I think I would get her “Time for Kids Big Book of Why: 1001 facts Kids Want to Know”
  • Winter Wallaby shopped for Mike (from Shortpacked): A sack full of coal. Because (1) Mike is never “nice” so all he deserves is coal and (2) he could beat people with it.Of course, he would figure out that the coal is from me, and beat me with it.
  • Larry shopped for Janis (from Arlo and Janis): I think Janis will really enjoy a $25 gift card from Bath & Body Works.
  • Julie shopped for Buni’s father (from Buni): The perfect gift for Buni’s dad would be a bottle of whiskey and a steak.I considered some sort of frame to hold pictures of Buni and dog, but he tries to hide his feelings towards Buni making it hard to expect someone else to buy that for him.
  • Kathleen shopped for Luann (from Luann): For LuAnn I would get a gift certificate to pay for luggage so that she can carry all she needs to when she goes to visit Quill.
  • Kilby shopped for Earl (from Mutts): The perfect gift for Earl would be a life-size, inflatable Ozzie doll.Unfortunately, I have no idea what this would cost, but it would be easy to dress a cheap doll with old items from Ozzie’s wardrobe to improve the likeness.
  • Karl shopped for Satchel (from Get Fuzzy): I’d get Satchel a dog-sized beanbag chair filled with baked beans (since he’ll probably eat it anyway).
  • Chris shopped for Danae (from Non Sequitur): Rule the World: 119 Shortcuts to Total World Domination. $11.55 on Amazon (, so enough money left over for a book on horse training.
  • Tracy Trotter shopped for Nate (from Big Nate): I’d buy Nate a copy of some fairly rare issue of his favorite comic book, Femme
    Fatality. If he was in my world, I’d custom-order a t-shirt with the logo of his garage band, Enslave the Mollusk. Of course, he’d be
    hoping for a dog.
  • Mary Ann Niesen shopped for Alice (from Cul de Sac): Ok, I think I have the right gift for Alice. Amazon is out of stock but the other colors and sizes are $20 so it should fit the price limit: think she did some mind control on butterflies as well as the bees, though i may have to look that up again.
  • George Ainsworth shopped for Goat (from Pearls Before Swine): Being a total nerd I believe that Goat would love either a book by Joseph Campbell (Power of Myth) or Studs Terkel (Working). Should he already have those he’d like Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. We know how to party at my house :-)
  • Mark in Boston shopped for PHB (from Dilbert): it an “Executive Decision Pen”. It’s like a Magic 8-Ball but in the form of a ballpoint pen. They will think you are just taking notes when you consult it. Click the button and read the decision: “Dude, no way!” or “Without a doubt” or “Not for a million $”.

    Two months later: Alice to Dilbert: “Have you noticed the boss is making better decisions lately?”

  • Molly J shopped for Lucy van Pelt (from Peanuts): In light of this: I’d get her this:
  • Tom Tildrum shopped for Faye (from Questionable Content): For the holidays this year, Faye will be receiving “Gamma Green Hulk Smash Fists.” Perfect for those times when she needs extra punching
  • James Thorson shopped for Ludwig (from Arlo and Janis): How about a case of gourmet gluten-free cat food? Is there any evidence that cats have gluten problems? Not that I know of (tho I haven’t looked, either) but since gluten-free seems to be this year’s hottest food trend why should Ludwig miss out?
  • Susan Briley shopped for Paige (from Fox Trot): I would get Paige a warm, cute sweater to wear in their cold house along with a big bag of M&M’s.
  • Janice shopped for Alix (from Stone Soup): Alix, with her love of the creepy-crawly, would enjoy either of these:Carnivorous Plant Set:

    Nature Explorer set:, though I’d probably look around for a sturdier set.

    Even better, both, so that she can catch bugs, then feed them to her plants, but that would exceed the spending limit by a few dollars.

  • Peter Davis shopped for Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes): I think the perfect gift for Calvin would be a supply of empty cardboard boxes … as many as the $25 spending limit would buy. (I think they’re pretty cheap at Staples.)P.S. - My first thought was Thorazine, but that’s more a gift for his parents, I think.
  • Pat Toner shopped for Gabe (from Penny Arcade): I’d buy him the book 50 Shades of Chicken, due to his appreciation of anatomically shaped cookies (there’s a contest they run each year to make “Dickerdoodles,” cookies shaped like genitalia). It seems to be the best combination of erotic literature and chicken recipes that has ever been written.
  • Bill Robinson shopped for Hannelore (from Questionable Content): a “You Obviously Like Owls” t-shirt from Jeph’s store,


John Campo shopped for Mrs. Wormwood

(from Calvin and Hobbes)

  • Elyrest: I can’t believe you gave me Candy from Girls With Slingshots! She’s mean and nasty. I do have the perfect gift for her though and it fits all the parameters - a Marshmallow Shooter. It’s under $25; it’s perfect for Candy as it’s sweet and goes with her name; and most of all she can use the marshmallow shooter to unleash her nastiness on others. I wouldn’t mind getting one myself.
  • Ed Rush shopped for Arlo (from Arlo and Janis): Wow, that’s a toughie. I’d get him something for his new boat, maybe a battery-operated wall-clock that could attach to a cupboard door and whose clockface would have a good photo of Gene, Mary Lou, and her child.
  • Usual John shopped for Bucky (from Get Fuzzy): There are all kinds of clever though unsatisfying gifts I could get for Bucky, but ultimately I think I would get him what he would really like, which is $25 of tuna.
  • Andréa shopped for Sara (from Zits): Gift card to my spa & salon
  • Lola shopped for Rat (from Pearls Before Swine):
  • Mitch4: John (from Out There) no longer shaves his head, but I think he still would like some nice, comfortable, and unassuming headgear. So I would submit this $24 pull-on knit cap from Kangol via John Helmer: is the type who might especially appreciate something intimate or at least meaningful coming from a really close friend, but in this sort of Secret Santa arrangement would like something simple and practical like clothing more than a clever novelty gift idea or cool gizmo. The branding on this item might bother him, however, but I think it can be worn so the logo is less prominent.
  • Same Old Same Old shopped for Marten (from Questionable Content): Marten will get How to Talk to Girls by Alec Greven

    Book Description: “Are you smart enough to take over a girl’s heart? Leave it to a nine-year-old to get down to the basics about how to win victory with a girl. How to talk to girls is for boys of all ages—from eight to eighty—and the girls they like. So read this book and then you’re ready. Good luck! Tips: Comb your hair and don’t wear sweats; Control your hyperness (cut down on the sugar if you have to); Don’t act desperate.”

    I think Marten can use this book. :-)

  • Ted Prewitt shopped for Ashley (from Least I Could Do): Knowing Ashley, I’m sure she’d love The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers, video game for her PlayStation2.
  • Barbra Baker shopped for Zonker (from Doonesbury): First, I would give Zonker insomnia. That would make him eligible for a medical marijuana prescription–which would be covered by his medical insurance. Then–since I am sure he will have the munchies before he falls asleep–a gift certificate from McDonalds.Merry Christmas, Zonker!
  • Chuck Douglas shopped for Dilbert: I think a good gift for Dilbert would be a new tie that curls INWARD rather than one that curls outward like he normally wears.Or maybe a gift certificate to and let him choose his own present.
  • yellojkt shopped for Ted Forth (from Sally Forth): Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots
  • Zambia P shopped for Mrs. Olsen (from Frazz): It’s not very funny or witty, but this is what I think she would appreciate: would work too, but is a little more conservative:
  • Bob Wollpert shopped for Momo (from Questionable Content): I, Robot by Isaac Asimov from
  • Dave shopped for Mooch (from Mutts): a gift certificate for $25 to the deli he frequents
  • David Margulies shopped for Susie (from Calvin and Hobbes): an SAT study guide
  • BBBB shopped for Eve (from Madam and Eve): hat’s a toughie, but for less than $25, I’m going with a cushioned extra thick ironing board cover. Sleeping on that ironing board has to be uncomfortable.If you need specifics, see

And a nice round of applause for everybody who volunteered without knowing what they were getting onto, and then came up with a gift for whomever they were randomly assigned. There’s still a week left until Christmas Eve, so if anybody wants to suggest a gift for a comic strip character who hasn’t been listed here, feel free (and if it’s a Chanukah gift, that’s fine too: we’re not holding our own Chanukah party until the 27th, the traditional “Twentieth Night of Chanukah”)

Filed in Bill Bickel, Chanukah, Christmas, Secret Santa, comic strips, comics | 10 responses so far

10 Responses to “Secret Santa (formerly Reindeer Games)”

  1. Kathleen Dec 17th 2012 at 11:59 am 1

    My favorite entry was from Mark in Boston for the PHB in Dilbert! :)

  2. fj Dec 17th 2012 at 06:16 pm 2

    I didn’t participate, but thanks, Bill, for putting this together. It made for an entertaining read.

  3. farmer Dec 17th 2012 at 07:35 pm 3

    As an organic farmer like Mary Lou (from A&J) wants to be, I’d get her The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook. She’s gonna need it; it’s a lot harder than she thinks. Jimmy Johnson might want to read it, too…

  4. turquoisecow Dec 17th 2012 at 08:47 pm 4

    Wow, some people had some pretty creative & good ideas! Hope they were all so successful with their own personal shopping.

  5. zookeeper Dec 17th 2012 at 09:58 pm 5

    Late as usual - Jamie (Girls w/ Slingshots) is the original Sweater Girl.

  6. James Pollock Dec 18th 2012 at 01:38 am 6

  7. Tom T. Dec 18th 2012 at 08:24 am 7

    Thank you, Bill, for putting this together. It was a fun idea.

  8. Kilby Dec 18th 2012 at 09:24 am 8

    I’d like to do this again next year, but to keep it fresh, make one minor alteration: ask people to choose their favorite comic strip that is no longer being published. Legacy and zombie strips would not qualify, just real graveyard items. Although, given that, perhaps Halloween would be a better occasion than Christmas.

    P.S. For the strips that simply refuse to die, perhaps Easter would be appropriate.

  9. Keera Dec 18th 2012 at 01:38 pm 9

    I’m impressed, guys! I’m also glad I didn’t volunteer. I’m a Secret Santa at work and I suck at it. I can’t think of a damned thing to do or give. My Secret Santa has been leaving me poetry.

  10. Powers Dec 18th 2012 at 04:55 pm 10

    My 10-pack of tuna for Hobbes didn’t make it in in time.

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