Faces

What Santa Gave Your Senator This Year

In a year that featured divisive fights over the budget, health care and presidential nominations, the United States Senate took a break from partisan bickering Tuesday night to get in the Christmas spirit.

A total of 65 senators — 42 Democrats and 23 Republicans — took part in a gift exchange after the day's final votes were tallied. As NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith reported Wednesday on Morning Edition, Secret Santa is taking shape as something of a tradition in the upper chamber, as this is the third year in a row the event has taken place.

Here are some of the stocking stuffers that were swapped this year:

Secret Santa In The Senate

  • From Al Franken To Joe Donnelly

    Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. i i

    Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. Carolyn Kaster/AP hide caption

    itoggle caption Carolyn Kaster/AP
    Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.

    Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.

    Carolyn Kaster/AP

    Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, who organized this year's Secret Santa event, came in well below the $15 limit for his gift. He personally made a map of the United States — which he can draw from memory — for Sen. Joe Donnelly, noting important moments in the Indiana Democrat's life.

  • From Kirsten Gillibrand To Joe Manchin

    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. i i

    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

    itoggle caption J. Scott Applewhite/AP
    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

    J. Scott Applewhite/AP

    New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand gave her fellow Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia a specialty item from her old House district — a bottle of Hudson Valley Single Malt Whiskey. Gillibrand lived in the town of Hudson when she represented New York's 20th District.

  • From Joe Manchin To Marco Rubio

    Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. i i

    Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

    itoggle caption J. Scott Applewhite/AP
    Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

    Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

    J. Scott Applewhite/AP

    As for Manchin, he gave a gift that's associated with his home state — and misbehaving youngsters. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio received donkey and elephant coal figurines from the Democrat from coal-producing West Virginia.

  • From Chris Murphy To Tim Scott

    Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. i i

    Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. Sergei Chuzavkov/AP hide caption

    itoggle caption Sergei Chuzavkov/AP
    Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

    Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

    Sergei Chuzavkov/AP

    Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy gave South Carolina GOP Sen. Tim Scott a set of presidential Pez candy dispensers. "I'm sure he thinks this is a way to sweeten the pot and improve the relationship to get across the aisle, and this is an important part of the equation," Scott said of the gift.

  • From Tim Scott To Chris Coons

    Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. i i

    Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. Jose Luis Magana/AP hide caption

    itoggle caption Jose Luis Magana/AP
    Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.

    Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.

    Jose Luis Magana/AP

    Meanwhile, Scott made his own effort to reach across the aisle, giving Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware a set of books on a topic they discussed at the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral last week.

  • From Bill Nelson To Heidi Heitkamp

    Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. i i

    Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

    itoggle caption J. Scott Applewhite/AP
    Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

    Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

    J. Scott Applewhite/AP

    For his gift, Sen. Bill Nelson provided fellow Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota with a taste of his home state by giving her a bag of Florida grapefruits. The United States is the top grapefruit-producing country in the world thanks in large part to the Sunshine State.

  • From Jack Reed To Carl Levin

    Democratic Sens. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Carl Levin of Michigan i i

    Democratic Sens. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Carl Levin of Michigan J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

    itoggle caption J. Scott Applewhite/AP
    Democratic Sens. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Carl Levin of Michigan

    Democratic Sens. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Carl Levin of Michigan

    J. Scott Applewhite/AP

    Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed gave an Army tie to his fellow Democrat and Armed Services Committee member Carl Levin of Michigan. Levin currently serves as chairman of the committee, and Reed is a graduate of West Point.

  • From Ted Cruz To Bob Casey

    Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas i i

    Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

    itoggle caption J. Scott Applewhite/AP
    Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas

    Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas

    J. Scott Applewhite/AP

    Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey will be able to indulge in two of his favorite treats, coffee and chocolate, thanks to Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. In the card attached to the gift, Cruz suggested to Casey that he find some harder vices.

  • From Chuck Schumer To Jeanne Shaheen

    Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. i i

    Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Jose Luis Magana/AP hide caption

    itoggle caption Jose Luis Magana/AP
    Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

    Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

    Jose Luis Magana/AP

    Some senators gave gifts that represented their home states. New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer chose one that was unique to his colleague's state. New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen received a bobble head of Revolutionary War Gen. John Stark, who famously coined the phrase "Live Free or Die" that became the Granite State's official motto in 1945.

  • From Kelly Ayotte To Patrick Leahy

    Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. i i

    Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP hide caption

    itoggle caption Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
    Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.

    Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.

    Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

    Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy may have been the happiest senator Tuesday night: He received a Batman ornament from New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte. A huge fan of the caped crusader, Leahy has made cameos in three Batman movies, sending all the residual checks to his childhood elementary school.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.