Kris Kinds Opinion

With the holiday season out the door, many reflect on the missed traditions due to COVID-19. One tradition that has been salvaged and a popular activity amongst the Mayfield community– Kris Kinds. The one week in the year when students spend more than $20 on someone they don’t know. Randomizing the people assigned came with good intentions–to get to know students you aren’t familiar with–but no one really wants to give gifts for fun to a stranger. Though I want it out of my mind with the end-of-semester rush, I continue to think about how much I won’t miss Kris Kinds when I am away at college. 

I don’t want my words to just sound like a bahumbug to Christmas cheer and a jolly old man with a gut filled with cookies. I like Christmas. In fact, it’s my favorite holiday. I love the crisp night air on drives down Christmas Tree Lane. A scalding hot chai in a seasonal cup from Starbucks. Being together with family and friends late into the night before I bundle up in my blankets with my dog nestled at the foot of my bed and await the freshness of Christmas morning. I love Christmas, really. It’s Kris Kinds I can’t get behind. 

The instructions for Kris Kinds have been the same since my freshman year. Once your gift recipient is decided, prepare five gifts; four small gifts ranging from $1-3, and one final gift costing up to $20 (even if you do buy $1-3 items, you’re still expected to spend $30 with the final present). The expectations are simply unsustainable. One bottle of nail polish nowadays can cost up to $5! I acknowledge that the school isn’t asking students to buy the most expensive or the nicest items, but not investing in nice enough gifts generates more waste and certainly more frowns. Why do you think students always ask for more fuzzy socks? They don’t last. I know students that have had their gift recipient insult the presents they were given. Imagine wasting $30 on someone because they abhor your gift. While the forms we fill out a couple weeks prior to Kris Kinds are meant to avoid this situation, not everyone fills out with consideration. My Kris Kinds assignment wrote, “literally anything idk choose something” which isn’t exactly the best information to follow. I will be transparent, picking out gifts for people causes immense stress for me, even when I know what they want. 

It’s hard to shake my frustration with the money spent on these gifts. I don’t know what money the school expects students to use, but I was lucky enough to have my parents help me purchase gifts for my Kris Kinds through junior year. This year, I paid out of my own pocket (no frustration towards my parents, I am grateful that they helped me in previous years). I expressed this annoyance to one of my friends and they asked, “Why don’t you ask your parents to pay you back?” Why should my parents have to buy gifts for someone they definitely don’t know? Admittedly, I spent $50 on my Kris Kinds, but I know others who have spent up to $100. It baffles me that students are required to participate in this activity when families are already expected to pay for hundreds of dollars worth of school supplies. Even more so, there are students who may live in a single parent household or have only one parent who works, or maybe they have siblings who also attend private school. Add on Kris Kinds costs to tuition, school supplies, and living expenses–$50 is a lot of money. I am greatly appreciative of the kind and thoughtful gifts I have received, but I can’t help feeling a little guilty for opening a nice gift or receiving something I know is twice the price of the recommended costs. 

The intention behind Kris Kinds is genuine. For some people, it may be the only holiday gifts they receive. For others, they might just love to give. I love Mayfield’s desire to spread joy and celebrate together, especially now during a time of high tensions and anxiety. However, I am unable to find excitement in an activity that brings about stress, wastefulness, and unnecessary spending.