The Step-by-Step Guide to Organising a Secret Santa

Christmas is getting closer and closer, but there’s still time to organise lots of festive fun. A Secret Santa exchange is a fantastic thing...

Christmas is getting closer and closer, but there’s still time to organise lots of festive fun. A Secret Santa exchange is a fantastic thing to do with your friends, family or colleagues. It’s easy to arrange, and it’s a great way of everyone getting a gift without spending too much money. Sometimes a Secret Santa is a better option than buying presents for everyone. For example, it’s a nice thing to do at the office, when you’re probably not going to get every single person a gift. You can also do it in addition to your usual presents for friends and family. If you’ve never done one before, here’s how to make sure it goes smoothly.

Gather Participants

First, you need to know who wants to join in. You can’t involve anyone without their permission, so start by asking who wants to do it. You could send an email around the office or casually bring it up with friends or family. Since you’re the one suggesting it, you need to take responsibility for the organisation. Don’t just suggest it and then forget all about it, assuming it will all just come together.


Alexander Baxevanis

Swap Names

Once you know some people want to join in, get everyone to write their name on a strip of paper. The usual way is to include names only, but there is another option. You can also get people to write down a couple of things about themselves, such as what their interests are or what they would (or wouldn’t) like. However, you have to be careful, or people could give themselves away! Put everyone’s name in a hat (or bowl, bag or jar), mix them around and let everyone pick one out.

Set a Spending Amount and Date

It’s good Secret Santa etiquette to set a limit on how much everyone is going to spend. Otherwise, you end up with some people spending twice as much as others. Everyone should agree on a price limit, and you should try to set it fairly low. If you go too high, some people might feel uncomfortable objecting, even though they feel they can’t afford it. Next, choose a date for everyone to swap presents. Maybe it will be at the office party, the last time you see each other before the holidays, or on Christmas Day.

Suggest Gifts (and Buy Your Own)

It can be helpful to provide some gift guidelines for anyone who’s not sure what to buy. Secret Santa’s can help you get to know someone better, but they can also leave you baffled. Give some suggestions on gifts for men and women, and perhaps name a couple of things that are out of bounds. For example, you might say no alcohol, as you might not know for sure if someone will appreciate it. Don’t forget to buy a present for the person you picked!

Finally, you can swap gifts with each other and reveal who picked who. Or if you want to keep everything a secret forever, everyone could put their presents in a pile and leave their names off the tags.


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