From Left: Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Joe Manchin (D-West. Va.), and Franken

From Left: Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Joe Manchin (D-West. Va.), and Franken

With Congress battling it out over payroll taxes and oil pipelines, Minnesota Democrat  Al Franken thought he would try to lighten the mood with an after-votes Secret Santa exchange party Monday night off the floor of the U.S. Senate.

 There was fruitcake, eggnog, and cookies.  

 
A total of 61 senators participated in the first-ever Senate Secret Santa gift exchange, including Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. According to Franken’s office, the split was 22 Republicans and 39 Democrats. The Senators picked each other’s names out of a Santa hat during their caucus lunches a few weeks ago.  Presents had to cost $10 or less.
 
Franken’s secret Santa?  Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). He gave Franken a book.  Franken had Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and gave him a make-your-own Mahnomin porridge kit from Minneapolis.
 
“We used to do this back in school in Minnesota and it was just a fun way of solving the Christmas gift-giving problem and maybe make a friend of someone you didn’t know so well,” Franken said.  “So, I decided, ‘what the heck, let’s do it here.’”
 
[Late-breaking update from Klobuchar's office: The Senator got almond bark from Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., made by nuns in a town in Massachusetts.
 
From the Senator herself: “Senator (Jeff) Bingaman (D-New Mexico) and I missed each other at the party but he told me that he eagerly awaits his secret gift..."]