Obviously my students don't draw names for a holiday gift exchange, but last year we did gifts of writing using the Secret Santa concept. It was voluntary for students to participate, and everybody who wanted to do it filled out questionnaires with information about themselves. Then we folded those up and drew out of a bag to see who would be the recipient of our gift of writing. The parameters were broad-- it could be a piece of any genre and it could be written about the person or for the person. I thought it would be fun for the kids if I drew a name in each class, too.
It ended up being a nice activity, one that allowed the students to apply many of the writing lessons we'd learned. Most kids wrote a free verse poem about the person whose name they'd drawn, and I did, too, but some wrote letters to them and others composed pieces for them-- poems or short stories or cartoons that they hoped the person receiving the gift would enjoy. At the end, when the writing was done, we created companion wordles to give along with our gift.
I still have my five gifts of writing, and it was successful enough that I'm getting ready to do it again next week. I've struggled a little bit with the timing, though. We could do this activity any time, and it might be a good end of the year ritual, but this is a season of giving in the culture in which we all live, and I think it's okay to participate in that, too.
I think so, but I'm not sure.