Flash Secret Santa has nothing to do with the programming language known as Flash: instead it’s a variation on the theme of the flashmob. A flashmob involves as many different people as possible, who generally don’t know each other beforehand, meeting up to do something spontaneous. For instance, there have been flashmobs with pillow fights or flashmobs where hundreds of people danced the Harlem Shake together. Flash Secret Santa operates on a similar principle. Strangers convene at agreed meeting points in selected cities and give gifts to one another. Most organizers attribute their involvement with Secret Santa to their love for Christmas and giving gifts and the fact that they want to give participants the chance to meet new people and experience the pleasure of giving and receiving gifts. Flash Secret Santa events always mean meeting new people, as gift givers and recipients often strike up a conversation after exchanging gifts. People talk about how they came to take part in Flash Secret Santa, how they came up with the gift ideas and what they think about the gifts they’ve received.
So far, Flash Secret Santa events have taken place in large metro areas such as Berlin, Hamburg or Munich as well as in smaller cities such as Heidelberg or Magdeburg. Anyone can take part and particularly ambitious Secret Santas can start their own Secret Santa flashmobs in cities where no events have taken place so far.
Flash Secret Santas bring their gifts to the event and then, on a signal, drop them at a particular location. Once a second signal has been given, participants take a gift from the pile. Unlike a Trashy Secret Santa event, gift givers are generally expected to give desirable gifts that recipients will be glad to receive. It can be helpful to make advance plans to meet up at these events or to find out the expected financial value of the gift.
Video of the Flash Secret Santa in Cologne in 2010