Canned asparagus, ant farm, and crab-shaped ashtray among the strangest Secret Santa gifts Canadians have received

AIR MILES survey reveals 93% of Canadians have received a bad Secret Santa gift

TORONTO, Nov. 19, 2015 /CNW/ - Most Canadians that have participated in a Secret Santa gift exchange, have likely, at some point had to smile awkwardly and say a dutiful 'thank you' for a strange or inappropriate gift they've received.

To celebrate perhaps the most awkward of holiday traditions, the AIR MILES Reward Program today released a new survey conducted by Ipsos Reid, focused on Canadians' participation in Secret Santa during the festive season, which includes a list of some of the weirdest and wackiest gifts including canned asparagus, ant farms and crab-shaped ashtrays ever exchanged in offices, classrooms and amongst families around the country. Some other examples of the worst things participants say they've received include: tire pressure gauge, toilet paper and a broken light bulb.

The survey found that 44 per cent of participants love participating in Secret Santa but 25 per cent said, understandably, the worst part is receiving a gift they don't want. Almost half (44%) of Secret Santa participants have re-gifted an item they've received and 35 per cent say they don't feel guilty re-gifting items, which is probably how some people ended up with that old cassette player or the ostrich feather pen last year. 

The survey also looked at all the reasons why Canadians like and dislike the popular holiday tradition and found the most common reasons Canadians dislike Secret Santa are: buying a gift for someone they don't know (30%), staying within a price limit (16%) and keeping to themes (9%).

"Secret Santa is a beloved tradition for many Canadians, but there can be those awkward interactions that come with it!" said Rachel MacQueen, Vice President, Marketing, AIR MILES Reward Program. "We wanted to find out exactly what Canadians enjoy, and at the same time, what makes them cringe about being involved in a Secret Santa gift exchange. Figuring out what to buy, and where to shop can be challenging when there are strict price limits. This year, Canadians can actually enjoy their holiday shopping by visiting our AIR MILES Partner locations. Shop for perfect holiday gifts while getting Miles for yourself too."

When it comes to the holidays, with hundreds of retail Partners – including the ability to shop both in-store and online with 200+ retailers through AIR MILES Shops – You can find great gifts for anyone on your list while getting Miles on your purchases! Whether you're shopping for the handyman, the young at heart or the avid traveller, keep AIR MILES Partners in mind so you're never left gifting a stuffed squirrel, a set of used plastic placemats, or a framed photo of yourself (yes, someone actually did that).

The good news is the survey confirmed there are some great gift-givers out there who know that wine, chocolate, movie tickets, concert tickets, and bath and body products are considered some of the best Secret Santa gifts.

To help Collectors celebrate the fun tradition of Secret Santa this holiday season, the AIR MILES Smile Booth is back and making its way across Canada! From November 20December 13, Collectors can visit a Smile Booth at select malls for their chance to win a Secret Santa gift for a friend or loved one.

For some gift-giving inspiration watch –

For more information and the AIR MILES Smile Booth schedule, visit:

For a full list of Partners visit: or to get Miles while doing your holiday shopping online visit:

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by following #AIRMILESSecretSanta

About the Survey
These are the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of AIR MILES between October 27 and 30, 2015. For this survey, a sample of 2,006 Canadians (of which 793 have participated in a Secret Santa gift exchange in the last three years) from Ipsos' Canadian online panel was interviewed online. The results are considered accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points.

About the AIR MILES Reward Program
Launched in 1992, the AIR MILES Reward Program is one of the best ways to get rewards in Canada.  With more than 10 million active Collector accounts, approximately two-thirds of all Canadian households can turn everyday purchases like gas and groceries into movie tickets, kitchen gadgets, electronics, dream vacations and so much more.  Unlike other frequent shopper programs, Collectors can get Miles from hundreds of leading brand-name Partners, representing thousands of retail and service locations across Canada and leading global brands online. The AIR MILES Reward Program lets Collectors reward themselves their way – they can build their AIR MILES Cash balance to use toward in-store purchases or eVouchers online at participating Reward Partners, build their Dream balance to get vacations, electronics and more, or a combination of both.  Whatever rewards Collectors like most, they can get them quickly and easily with the AIR MILES Reward Program.

About Ipsos Reid
Ipsos Reid is Canada's market intelligence leader and the country's leading provider of public opinion research. With operations in eight cities, Ipsos Reid employs more than 600 research professionals and support staff in Canada. The company has the biggest network of telephone call centres in Canada, as well as the largest pre-recruited household and on-line panels. Ipsos Reid's Canadian marketing research and public affairs practices are staffed with seasoned research consultants with extensive industry-specific backgrounds, offering the premier suite of research vehicles in Canada—all of which provide clients with actionable and relevant information. Ipsos Reid is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group. To learn more, visit


For further information: Joanna Leong, North Strategic, 416-723-1183,


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