The way it works is very simple. You tell the organizer if you want to sign up, and after the sign-up deadline the organizer secretly assigns a name to each participant. Once you are assigned a name, your job is to buy and fit a ship for that player (so something they can actually fly), and give that ship to the organizer.
Then, on the agreed day, everyone gets together and the organizer hands out the ships. Because this is all done through the organizer, you don't know who bought you your ship (unless they tell you, of course). You then all sit around laughing at the crazy fits for a while. And because we're pirates, we'll spend most of January trying to get kills in these ships.
I don't normally like Secret Santas, but this sounded awesome. My initial thought was to bling out a Gnosis, because that's just funny. What do you get a pilot that can fly everything? Why, a ship that everyone can fly, of course!
However, when I started going through my pilot's killboards, it was very clear that he had a favorite ship, so I ended up purchasing that instead. After working out a fit, it was going to cost (much) more than I actually had, so I've been bringing in modules as fast as my PI and exploration will allow. I just have a couple of hundred mil worth of mods left, which should be doable by our 21st December deadline.
And if I'm really pushed for time I could sell my Pilgrim, but I want to avoid that if I can.
What I didn't consider is that I can't actually fly the ship I bought, so I can't fit it either. Fortunately, the organizer of our little Secret Santa can, so they have agreed to fit it before handing it out.
A word of caution, though. While the idea is to treat someone the ship that they would probably never buy for themselves, last year we had a few 800 mil frigates that simply never got used because nobody wants that lossmail. So a certain amount of moderation is required. Hopefully I get the balance right - I went with x4 the cost of my pilot's regular fit. I figured that I'd still fly an 80 mil T1 frigate (even if I'd never actually spend that much on one for myself), so scaling that up to larger ships seemed reasonable.
Is anyone else doing something similar?