secret santa
Secret Santa comes to the Senate. Image: thegreatgonzo/Flickr/CC BY

This holiday season is bringing some miracles with it. In a rare display of bipartisan good will, senators from both sides of the aisle sat down together Monday and exchanged Secret Santa gifts. Of the 61 senators who gathered in the Capitol for the event, 22 were Republicans and 39 were Democrats.

Senate Secret Santa exchange

Senator Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, organized the event. It was the first-ever Senate Secret Santa gift exchange. The gifts had to be wrapped and cost no more than $10 apiece. Most were gag gifts, and everything from Buffalo wing barbecue sauce to bee-shaped ear buds were exchanged.

Franken said:

“We used to do this back in school in Minnesota, and it was just a fun way of solving the Christmas gift-giving problem and maybe make a friend of someone you didn’t know so well. So, I decided, ‘What the heck, let’s do it here.’”

Bipartisan coal

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., received two pieces of coal from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. One was carved into the figure of an elephant, one was a donkey. A note accompanying the gift read: “What we deserve is a lump of coal … we should be working in a bipartisan way.”

Manchin in return received several lumps of coal, some winter socks and a Colorado beer called “Snow Day” from Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.

Other gifts

Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo. received a $10 gift card to Barnes and Noble. He would not reveal who the giver was.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, gave Michael Bennet, D-Colo., a beer from his state, “Great Lakes Christmas Ale.” Portman presented it by saying:

“Since Colorado is the state that produces more beer than any other state, and they’re pretty proud of that, I thought I would show him what really good beer was …”

Other gifts included Hawaiian coffee and macadamia nuts, a Moravian sugar cake and two books: “Unbroken,” by Laura Hilldenbrand and “Lincoln on War” by Harold Holzer.


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