The Secret Cookbook Santa Is Here!

Ho ho ho, friends and neighbors! ‘Tis the season for giving and what’s better to give and receive than a cookbook? Nothing, I tell you, nothing. Which is why, last year, I started a Secret Cookbook Santa where thousands (ahem, hundreds? 50 people?) exchanged cookbooks in the spirit of the season. This year we’re doing it again with the help of one of our Gourmet Survivor Winners Jason Sholar! He’s generously offered to play the role of Santa for everyone and we’ve devised a scheme that should make this a very painless process.


To play: simply create a cookbook wishlist on Amazon. If you already have a wishlist with cookbooks on it, that’s fine too. Send the link for your wishlist to by NEXT THURSDAY, December 9th. Jason says he’ll e-mail you back a confirmation that he got your e-mail. Then, perhaps a few days later, you will be assigned your Secret Santee. It is your absolute duty as a human being to promptly send your Santee one or more books from their wishlist. This is very easy to do with Amazon. You just click the book on their list, add to the shopping cart, pay and it gets sent to them. Their address isn’t revealed so no worries about stalkers.

Hopefully, a few days (weeks?) later you’ll receive a cookbook in the mail. You’ll open it and exclaim: “Oh Secret Cookbook Santa, you’re the best!” Then happy Christmas music will play and Tiny Tim will say “God bless us everyone!” and then get married on Johnny Carson. It will be a happy day indeed.

19 thoughts on “The Secret Cookbook Santa Is Here!”

  1. are there price guidelines/restrictions? (asks the graduate student living in Manhattan on a stipend) :)

  2. Everybody can participate? even being abroad? (like me =))

    And I agree with Rachel, is it possible to state a price restriction?

  3. One thing to be careful of (unless I am missing something): If you are logged in on Amazon it doesn’t work to send the link to your wishlist as that only works for people logged in to your Amazon account. Instead, you need to logout of your Amazon account, search for your wishlist by your name, and send that resulting link. I also recomend sending the name your wishlist is listed under so your secret santa can just search directly if there are any problems.

  4. I’m so excited! I think that rather than setting a price limit, everyone should put cookbooks on their wish lists that range in price. What did you do last year?

  5. Hrmmm… Well, I’m a Barnes and Noble employee: I’d be a traitor to shop at Amazon! And a bit of a waste too, since I get a 40% discount on books this month… I’d love to play, but I’d be interested in whether I can send books via some method other than Amazon: I could afford to send a better book that way.

  6. Tally,

    Amazon was set to be used as it holds your address information confidentially. You just buy the book from the santee’s list and it is sent to them without anyone knowing anything about you.

    I don’t know what Adams opinion is on this, but if a person or two wants to send me their address information to be shared I could choose one of them folks to be your santee. I do not know that anyone would be willing to volunteer their address information though.


  7. hello everybody,

    it seems to me there are a few problems with the Amazon idea. I personally find it a bit sad, just clicking on the wishlist of someone I know nothing about, entering my credit card number for the payment and having a huge service (maybe in the end a poor overworked underpayed employee doing extra hours to be able to pay his/her vacations doing the job) doing all the actual packing and sending. Last year we sent our personal adressess, and had open wishlists too, which meant that the Secret Santa could be creative with his/her present. I for one, living in Italy, had fun sending a cookbook of recepies from a smal clutter of Sicilian islands. Ok, maybe the person I sent it to will never be able to cook from it, but she now owns something she would never even had known existed, let alone wished upon herself. Open lists also overcomes the budget problem. If the taste of the person you are coupled with is just too expensive for you, with an open wishlist you often had a general indication (“anything vegetarian”, “ethnic cooking” and so on) which could guide you to the purchase of something cheaper but still to his/her taste. Only Jason would have all the addresses anyway, and, hey, aren’t we being a bit paranoid? What can possibly happen if you give your home adress to this one person who probably lives on the other side of the country? Is he/she going to stalk you at night? Come looking for you dressed ad Santa and brandishing his/her favourite chicken knife?Sorry, I find the precaution a bit ridiculous. And couldn’t those who don’t want to give their home address give their office address, or a P.O. box number or something like that. I can participate and send my home address for anyone who doesn’t want to go through the Amazon wishlist method. Hopefully Killer Santa is frightened of planes and won’t make the trip by plane across the ocean.

  8. This is from Amazon:

    Greetings from

    I’m sorry that it is not yet possible to search for your Wish List on our web site. Normally, new Wish Lists become searchable in 5-7 business days. However, recent system maintenance has caused a somewhat longer delay. I apologize for this inconvenience.

    Rest assured that your friends and family will be able to find your Wish List soon.

    So now what is to be done?

  9. I agree with Savina. I like the idea of open wishlists as well and am ok giving my address to someone who wants to participate but doesn’t want to go through Amazon. Also, I’d prefer wrapping and sending the book myself.. feels more personal somehow.

  10. Neil,

    Log in to Amazon and view your own list. In the upper right hand corner there will be a button that says “Tell people about this list.” Use that function to send me your wish list location. Just put in my email address and Amazon will send me the link.


  11. I’m voting for the open wishlist/address idea as well. Mainly because I would *love* to have it more like the blog exchanges – “Blogging By Mail” perhaps is what it’s called?

  12. Geez Louise!

    I’ve been anxiously awaiting the Cookbook Santa, because I missed it last year… I understand that may not meet everyone’s needs precisely, but must things be this complicated?? One of the things I miss about experiencing the holidays as a child is the simplicity of it all. So why not try not to worry about the pros and cons and prices and discounts. This is a fun idea. I for one have no problem purchasing something for a stranger about whom I know nothing- other than that person’s taste in cookbooks. The same ritual has been encouraged in office parties since time immemorial- what’s the problem?!

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