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I took my inspiration from the experience of a friend. He had mystery presents delivered daily for the Twelve Days of Christmas in 2013. He would return from work every day to find a gift on his front yard, and only found out the gift-giver was his neighbour on the final day. Each day at work I was excited to hear about the mystery visitor who would sneak over to leave anonymous presents, and to hear what the gift had been.

Choosing the recipient was easy. I had been trying to think of a good present for my good friends and loved ones. During my work Christmas party I decided this was it, 12 anonymous presents, one to be dropped off to their house each night. My colleagues told me I was crazy, that it was too much work and I’d regret it. Either a lack of comprehension of the effort involved or the multiple cocktails I had consumed made me think otherwise. I composed a poem stating my intentions, warning my neighbour’s family to stay away from the windows and not to try and catch us leaving their daily gift. I took inspiration from the Twelve Days of Christmas song, but altered it to suit my needs (and really, who wants all those people and birds in their house anyway).

Here are the Twelve Days of Christmas presents and the poems I wrote to accompany them. As you will see, the poems are very necessary to explain the tenuous links to some of the gifts!

Day 1) A partridge is a tricky bird, when I got too close he fled, so rather than a bird-less tree, I give you the pears instead!

Day 2) Turtle doves are very special; in fact they are quite rare. I looked high and low for them, but couldn’t find them anywhere. I found them on a tea towel, you can use to dry your dishes, but washing up would hardly be high on your Christmas wishes! So I included something extra, the chocolate kind, Oh Yum! Because if all I gave you was a tea towel, you might look kind of glum.

Day 3) What makes a French hen? Does she wear a beret? Perhaps she clucks with an accent, I really can’t say. If French hens are from Paris, they’d need passport to travel. If they got stuck at customs, all my plans would unravel. So I thought it safer to give you a different gift instead. I hope you enjoy olive oil, to go with crusty French bread! ……Yes, this was by far the most tenuous of links to the poem I know. I started with the idea of croissants, and then French baguettes but finding them late in the day proved problematic, and I know the family in question doesn’t eat white bread… lucky I could quickly wordsmith the poem to fit something they would use – olive oil.

Day 4) Four calling birds was the plan for today, but in a flurry of feathers they all flew away. I think they went north to soak up the sun, hanging out at the beach. They’re probable having such fun. When you go to your caravan you might see them up high, so here’s a bird feeder to tempt them down to say Hi!

Day 5) Five gold rings, what a sight to behold! But sadly there are few things, as expensive as gold. I hope that these rings, made of pineapple will suffice. They may not be as expensive, but they sure do taste nice.

Day 6) Today the song asks for geese “geese?” I hear you say, “I can’t have any geese here, my dog “Tasha” will chase them all away! How about some chickens, do you think Tasha will mind? Hmm, maybe I’ll just give you eggs. The chicken left behind.

Day7) Seven swans in your bathtub? There’d be no room for you, so I thought long and hard about what else I could do. Swans made of paper? Well that could be cool. Especially when tthey’reswimming in a blue jelly pool! ….Finding something for seven swans a’ swimming was tricky. A colleague convinced me that cardboard swans on a bowl of jelly was far cooler than any of my other suggestions – so that night it was a race against the clock to cut out fourteen swan silhouettes and stick them together around toothpicks. It took the longest and was the fiddliest, but I loved how it turned out.

Day 8) The eight maids are a milking, there’s no time to stop. There are still cows that need them (or perhaps they will pop!). So while the maids fill their buckets with delicious milk to drink, for your eight day present, i really had to think. What goes with milk? Flavours of chocolate and strawberry, so here are some strawberry to make your Christmas merry.

Day 9) Nine ladies dancing, they’d be South African ladies no less, dancing with tights and singlet, instead of high heels and a dress. They’d be so sweaty, and that could be trouble, for Christmas spirits so high, they might want to cuddle… Eww! Well, instead of South African ladies I thought I’d take a chance, that what you wanted this Christmas was a penguin that can dance! Nine ladies dancing were the hardest of all. I wanted to somehow tie it to South Africa, because I have a friend from there, but had to settle for South Africa references in the poem and the gift of a dancing Christmas penguin.

Day 10) Lords a’ leaping today with springy legs like a frog, if they leapt through your lounge room you’d be sure to stand there agog. They’d pirouette, they’d soar and no doubt they’d crash, so inviting ten lords to your house sounds a bit rash. Instead I found you a lord standing as still as can be; A frog of distinction to hang on your tree.

Day 11) Pipers are crazy with all the noise that they make, maybe one I could handle, but eleven is too much to take! So instead of pipers piping, how about something piping hot instead; here are the ingredients for hot chocolate that you could have before bed.

Day 12) Twelve drummers drumming, was your gift for Christmas Eve. But coordinating drummers is harder than you’d believe. They all had other gigs tonight. So I hope that you don’t mind, instead of drummers I gave drumsticks, the delicious ice-cream kind…… with this last present, your “secret santa” is done. I hope you enjoyed it, I hope you had fun….

The final present was hand delivered on Christmas Eve. Five Peter’s Drumsticks nestled in a bowl of ice with a tealight candle flickering in the centre. To end the mystery the last poem revealed our identity.

I have to say, it was more fun that I could have ever imagined! I got such a kick out of choosing the gifts, writing the poems, and trying to not get caught leaving each gift on the doorstep (which is harder than you’d think when three young boys are eagerly awaiting the next Secret Santa gift)

I had set out to bring some of the Christmas fun I remembered from my own childhood to another family. I learnt something important –You don’t need your own kids to share Christmas magic with; you just need to share Christmas magic.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a BRILLIANT 2015!


Written By:  George Akatakpo (@Gakatakpo)

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