We all have our Christmas traditions, whether it’s belting out a heavenly chorus of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” at Midnight Mass or collapsing face-down in shortbread and lager while nurturing simmering resentments about the family on Boxing Day.
Not all traditions are happy ones, of course.
Those readers who work in offices may recognise the feeling of dread that accompanies the forced fun of a Secret Santa.
For some, perhaps it’s a nice little tradition, buying gifts for fellow co-workers.
For many however, Secret Santa is simply an opportunity to throw away valuable cash on something hopelessly inappropriate for your fellow office workers. Arm-twisted into wasting your hard-earned while risking a raised profile with a hawk-eyed and somewhat sensitive HR department by buying a poorly considered gift for Grumpy Barry in Accounts – in exchange, no doubt, for a piece of badly made chocolate “hilariously” formed into the shape of an intimate body part bought for you by the office bully.
But not every Christmas tradition is quite so grim.
One recent Christmas tradition – #VinylSanta – began with a simple tweet in November 2016:
The tweet sought out vinyl enthusiasts, crate diggers, boot fair malingerers and charity shop trawlers to pass on a little Christmas Spirit in the form of a vastly more fun version of an office Secret Santa.
I asked the man behind #VinylSanta and the Twitter handle @pafster – or Paul Field as he is known to his friends and family – what gave him the idea…
“Vinyl Santa was started for two reasons. Firstly, typically family and friends are rubbish at buying records! Secondly, crate diggers spend hours travelling and searching, why not find stuff other people would like?”
Some twenty intrepid vinyl enthusiasts, nearly all in the U.K., spent £5 on vinyl for each other, each were allocated someone to buy for and sent their packages anonymously after checking the Twitter timelines of their recipients for clues as to their musical tastes. They all opened their packages at 7pm on Christmas Eve, sharing the results of the spoils on Twitter to much hilarity.
With the rising prices of vinyl, you have to be a pretty canny buyer to get decent spoils from the bargain bins, but some of the fun is in seeing just how good and bad it can get. Amidst some decent pop LPs were some of the 1970’s most forgettable and discarded easy listening. James Last, Tijuana Brass and decidedly odd-looking album covers. Not to mention several copies of the 1980’s most ubiquitous charity shop lurking LP, Paul Young’s No Parlez.
In 2017, #VinylSanta had grown to fifty five participants, and the hashtag #VinylSanta trended at number 5 on Christmas Eve.
A tradition had begun.
In 2018, the participation grew again, incorporating just under a hundred vinyl-heads from across the U.K., Ireland , Australia and the USA. Statistic fans will like to know there were 7 Steves, 6 Simons, 4 Andys and 4 Garys. It wasn’t entirely male dominated, but men did form 87% of participants, so there is room for more women, and more people from other countries to participate.
To give you a flavour of the fun, here is a run down of the Top Ten #VinylSanta gifts of 2018. If you want to participate next year, follow these people on Twitter, and watch out for the hash tag #VinylSanta.
10. The Wrong Bowie
9. Happy face
8. Decent Faces album alert
7. Freaky Cadaverous Album Cover!
6. Monkeys! Stingray! Cocteau Twins!
5. R.E.M. b-side action
4. Quality Live Depeche Mode and Bob Marley
3. The Boss…
2. Cool Booker T & The MGs
1. OMG! #Horrendous
Which leaves this very nice round up of the event…