Learn How to Crush Your Secret Santa

The purpose of “Secret Santa” is to make Christmas shopping easier and to spread the spirit of giving to people who might not be on your Christmas list otherwise.


It entails a group of people exchanging names in preparation for a covert gift exchange. Consider playing “secret Santa” at your next Christmas gathering, or learn how to play a round of the game you’ve already been invited to.

On a piece of paper, write down the names of everyone who is taking part. If the gathering is larger and participants do not know each other well, have them write their names and some distinguishing features/interests such as “male astronomy buff, 65” or “female triathlete fanatic, 34.” Only the person’s name is required in more intimate group settings.

Cut off the names and place them in a hat. The next stage is to have the names ready for a drawing. Each name should be cut out and folded in half once or twice to prevent people from reading it without unfolding it. Then, throw all of the folded names in a bowl or hat and mix them around a little to jumble the names.

Set a price cap. This can be done in a group discussion or just by people in charge of arranging the event. The price restriction is created so that some people don’t attempt to be cheap and buy a gift for a few dollars, while others try to outdo themselves and buy very expensive gifts. Choose a price limit in the ‘happy medium’ range that everyone in the group can pay. It’s better to be safe than sorry and choose a smaller price range than something too expensive that some people can’t afford.


Names will be drawn. Work your way around the group, allowing everyone a chance to choose a single name at random from the hat. Fold and hide the names until everyone has drawn. At this time, everyone can look at their name as long as they don’t say anything or show anyone else their slip of paper. Redraw someone’s name if they drew it themselves.

Set a date for gift-giving. The next stage is for everyone to go out and buy a gift (within their budget) for the individual whose name was drawn from the hat. Typically, there is a second meeting time when all of the secret Santa participants exchange gifts and reveal whose name they had the entire time. Check with the group members and set a date and time several days in advance for everyone to meet to exchange gifts.

Purchase a present. Go shopping with your person in mind and get the ideal gift for them. Make it personal by avoiding basic gifts such as a coffee cup or a bag of candies. However, be mindful of matching the price restriction; else, your present receiver or others may be put off by how cheap or pricey you were.

Give and receive presents. You can start the gift exchange once everyone in the group has purchased their gifts and met up. Wait until everyone is there, and keep your gift recipient a secret until everyone is given the ‘all clear to begin exchanging gifts. At that moment, locate the individual whose name you drew and reveal your gift! Remember that you will be receiving a gift as well, so be courteous as you take your gift (even if you don’t like what you got).