Secret Santa Rules And Gameplay

As the organizer, collect the names of people who would like to participate in your Secret Santa gift exchange. Six participants is the minimum number of people to make this exchange work well, and there really is no upper limit on the number of people who would like to participate. It does require some management from the organizer, so while you don't necessarily want to be organizing on behalf of 60 people, most organizers agree that 20 is an ideal number. Keep in mind, not everyone in your group or at your office will want to participate, and that's okay.

Don't be afraid to ask someone for help in determining how best to proceed, particularly with larger groups of participants, sometimes it works even better with two organizers helping one another!

Secret Santa Rules Step-By-Step

As you are collecting names, distribute a small questionnaire that you've created to those who would like to participate which include their name, age range, hobbies and any particular likes, hobbies or interests they may have. You could also include a small "wish list" section on your questionnaire to help further guide your Secret Santas. If you are choosing a food theme, be sure to ask for any food items a participant might be allergic to or really dislike. A questionnaire really helps Secret Santa gift-buyers find something that they know their gift-receiver will enjoy.

Set a price limit on gifts: Do this by thinking about the group you are organizing. There are a lot of financial commitments at Christmas and participants will appreciate it if you take this into consideration when determining your gift-price range. Most Secret Santa gift exchanges stay within the $10-$20 range. As mentioned earlier, you can also make this a Random Act of Kindness exchange as well, eliminating gifts all together. Some Secret Santa Gift Exchanges have also been about poetry, limericks or riddles, where participants compose odes to their partner, speaking to their strengths and positive attributes. Even more, some Secret Santa games are all about re-gifting, in that participants don't have to purchase anything. Of course, re-gifting means that gifts are not worn-out, broken or junky. Your choice depends on what you think your group would enjoy most.

Set a theme for the gift-giving: It can be Christmas-themed, or all about food (include mentions of allergies in your survey noted above), great reads, thrift store finds, re-gifting, prose or poetry, comfort at the end of the day, gadgets, etc. You can find more gift ideas and themes in our next article. Also identify for your participants items that should not be purchased like alcohol and gifts that might be misinterpreted as sexual or rude. If this is an office gathering, consider a gift theme of items that might stay at the office for everyone to enjoy after the gift exchange is over.

Set a gift-giving date: Some Secret Santa Gift Exchanges occur over a few days, and some occur on one specific day, it's really up to you. If your Secret Santa game occurs over a few days, instruct your participants to stay within the price range while purchasing multiple gifts, or that Secret Santas have a 3-day window, for example, to supply their one gift to their partner. If your Secret Santa game occurs on one specific day, determine this day early in your organizing to ensure most people will be able to attend. Most people enjoy being able to secretly place their gifts on people's desks, doorsteps or mailboxes at their own convenience. It really depends on your group's setting.

Partnering Up Givers and Receivers: Your role as organizer includes assigning a gift recipient to a Secret Santa. You can do this in a number of ways. Start with making a list of all participants labeled under the column heading of Secret Santa. Beside this list create another column labeled Gift Receiver.

  • Randomly: On small pieces of paper, write all participants names. Put all these names in a hat. Draw names of participants and write these names beside your list of Secret Santas in the Gift Receiver column. These people are now partners.
  • As you receive names of people who would like to participate, along with their completed questionnaires, write their names as Gift Receiver partners as they come in.
  • Wait until you receive all participants and questionnaires, and then assign partners according to who you think would enjoy giving and receiving together.
  • Create a Christmassy piece of paper where you can give each participant the name of the person they are to buy a gift or gifts for. Include the answered questionnaire if you have provided one.
  • Its now up to all of your Secret Santas to provide the gifts!

Labeling: The tradition in most cultures of a Secret Santa Gift Exchange is anonymity, both of what the gift is and who the gift is from. A lot of the fun comes from trying to figure out who has given you a gift and what is inside, before you open it. This can be achieved in a number of ways. The tradition of a riddle as the name tag is the most prominent. This riddle can be about who the gift is intended for which works particularly well if you are also hosting a large group of participants in the same place at the same time or a group of people who know each other well, like extended family.. Part of the fun is reading out the tag and having the group guess who the gift is for. The tag can also be about what is inside the wrapping to have the participant try and figure out what is inside first.

Keep a copy of your list until your Secret Santa Gift Exchange is over, some people will forget! Bear in mind too, particularly in an office setting, random partnering sometimes works best if one of your goals is to build team spirit, or help your colleagues get to know one another by not always interacting with the same colleagues.

In a group of participants where everyone knows each other fairly well like a team, community group or extended family group, you can choose to partner people whichever way you like.