Before there was Secret Santa, there was the grade school gift exchange. The spending limit? 50 cents.
Schools probably don't do the gift exchange any more..but back in the 60's and 70's, Christmas at school was full of lots of candy, cookies, a fair dose of religion (yes at a public school), and the Gift Exchange.
Most popular gifts: the Lifesavers Holiday Book (rolls of Lifesavers candy in a book shaped box), candy cane shaped cylinder full of candy, like gumballs or M & M's, pee wee footballs, yo-yo's, paddle balls, jump ropes, Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars.
In first grade, I remember I got the name of Timmy, a cute boy who I purchased a pee wee football for. Another little boy, named Jimmy, who had a crush on me traded to get my name. He gave me a necklace and a Ring Toss game. (He apparently had no regard for the 50-cent limit..unless of course he stole the stuff, which is a distinct possibility.)
When I was in 4th grade I was in a mixed class of 4th and 5th graders. One of the 5th grade girls had my name, and she got me a Christmas ornament which was a little red bird with a clip instead of feet so you could clip it to the Christmas tree branch. I thought it was the dumbest gift ever because it had no play value and you couldn't even eat it! But you know, I still have it! And in the years when I get around to putting up a Christmas tree, it's usually one of the first ones to go up.
So thank you Karen, or Jean, or Joan...or other un-named 5th grader from Miss Hooks' class for a gift that is close to my heart..in a box..in the basement.