Secret Santa

The division I work in is a lot of fun, with lots of uber-creative and generous people. This year, in addition to our own private holiday party; volunteering with local shelters and food kitchens; and the annual Christmas Gift exchange, we're doing "Secret Santa."

I need some help.

The dollar limit is $25. Meaning that over the course of 2 weeks, I'm supposed to bring holiday cheer and inspiration to a fellow employee with a budget of $25!!! TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS!

I can't properly decorate an office on $25 much less make it stretch over 10 workdays.

The purpose of "Secret Santa" is to spread cheer, joy and happiness through *small* gifts and gestures without revealing who you are to said individual. The big unveiling occurs at the Holiday Party.

To kick things off, I'm going to come in on Sunday to put lights and tinsel in her office. (she's an early riser and gets into work by 6:30 am each morning... there's NO WAY I'd beat her into work.... and I'm not a huge fan of working too late - can't let my other co-workers witness my covert decorating.) If I'm feeling overly ambitious, I'll wrap her door in holiday scenes, topped off with a huge bow. Believe it or not, I already have most of this stuff at home.

So I've got Day 1 all set.

And am feeling entirely uncreative.

My colleague is stressed out right now with multiple deadlines coming up at the beginning of January. She's mid-30's, married with the most adorable little boy.

I was thinking little aromatherapy candles, some nice lotion and maybe bath oil/salt. But with a $25 budget, that would be difficult to pull off without completely blowing the bank.

Any suggestions from the peanut gallery? Why am I being so lame? I can't think of anything!

Who's got it easy?

Last night, following the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, a crew of us got comfortable on some plush velvet sofas and dished on the sexes over scotch and martinis.

Two of the guys were recently dumped (OUCH!) and feeling a little shy about diving back into the single arena.

We broke into two camps at the end - those who thought it easier for a girl to ask a boy out. And those of us who felt the guys had a far greater chance of successfully asking a girl on a date.

The debate went on and on and on - with no camp declaring victory.

What do you think?


Loose lips

My best friend recommended I read Claire Berlinski's first stab at a novel, Loose Lips. It was okay - not great, but not bad ... a quick read.

She raved about it, in part, because I'm a huge fan of the spy/espionage genre.

Alias is one of my favorite television shows. I'm embarrassed to admit that I make a concerted effort to be home in time to watch it - thank god it's on a Sunday and not at 9:00 p.m. on Friday.

I'm the proud owner of the entire James Bond 007 Collection (even the crap "unofficial" versions), as well as numerous spy movies like The Avengers, Mission Impossible, The Saint, The Spy Game, Bourne Identity, Hunt for Red October, Clear and Present Danger, and The Man Who Knew Too Much, among other classics.

I get into a mood and will devour books by Dan Brown, John le Carre, Catherine Coulter, Clive Cussler, Jack Higgins, Iris Johansen, and Daniel Silva. It's my guilty pleasure.

And, here in DC, I laugh - when I'm out with friends, sitting in a bar, and overhear some schmuck dressed in a cheap JC Penny suit say that he works for the "Department of State".... all the while knowing that the naive interns sitting at his table are now under the impression that he's CIA. Life just isn't that glamorous. I wish - but it just ain't so.

Why do people impersonating agents always say they work for the State Dept.? Why not Transportation? Or Labour? At least Berlinski got creative and placed her agents at the Department of Agriculture.

And why do we get a thrill, a charge, when we think there are agents among us? In reality it's a messy business. What exactly is it that captivates us?