Tips for starting a secret Santa

By Matt Williamson
Info Guru,

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Have fun with a Secret Santa gift exchange this Christmas
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Are you thinking of starting a Secret Santa in your office or with family?

A Secret Santa can be lots of fun and a great way to organize holiday gift-giving. The secret to a terrific Secret Santa is to have clear rules ahead of time and to make organization a real breeze.

Here are some tips for starting a Secret Santa:

Set Rules Ahead of Time. Questions to ask when developing a Secret Santa are: "How much should I spend?"; "When is the present due?"; "How will I know what to get them?"; "How will I exchange gifts?" It is important for your rules to be clear in advance so that each member of the group follows them.

Agree on a Price Limit. This is one of the top reasons to do a Secret Santa: to save money on purchasing gifts. If you belong to a large family, gift buying may simply be out of control. In an office, this is a great way to celebrate the holidays without having coworkers spend hundreds of dollars on coworker gifts. An office Secret Santa gift is typically limited to ten to 30-dollars. Families will might want to use a similar range, but it depends upon the your budget. Find a price limit that allows people to get a nice, yet affordable gift for anyone.

Set a Date, Time and Place for Gift Exchange. The Secret Santa gift exchange can be fun. Serve refreshments and play music. If you are in an office, you can make this a potluck-type of event where everyone brings the gift and a dish to share. People should know when they will be exchanging gifts. If someone is unable to give a gift by the deadline, they should notify the organizer of the Secret Santa so other arrangements can be made.

Collect Gift Ideas. You can make shopping easier by getting some gift ideas from each person. The best way to do this is by using index cards. Have each person write their full name and three to five gift ideas that fall into the assigned price range. If children are included, parents can help them come up with gift ideas. This ensures that everyone will receive an enjoyable gift. This is especially helpful if you are in an office and you have to purchase a gift for someone you don't know very well.

Or you might want to designate a category for all of the gifts in this year's candles, holiday ornaments, sweatshirts, or gourmet treats.

Pass the Santa Hat Around. Fold the index cards that you have collected from everyone and put them into a Santa hat. You can get a Santa hat at most large drugstores or party supply stores during the holidays. Pass the Santa hat around and let everyone select a name. Tell people not to share what name they pulled from the hat. Remind people of the price limit and the day that you will be exchanging gifts.

Have Fun With the Secret. Part of the fun of Secret Santa is wondering who has you as a Secret Santa partner. You will only find out on the day you exchange gifts. Some that do a Secret Santa have a more extended gift-giving period where you give the person more gifts, like 12 small gifts for the 12 days of Christmas. Or maybe you do something nice as a surprise for them every week of December. You can set this up when you create your Secret Santa rules. Your group can decide how extensive and involved they want their Secret Santa to be.

Christmas is a wonderful season that brings everyone closer together. A Secret Santa is lots of fun because we are often surprised by other people's generosity and goodwill. These tips for starting a Secret Santa can help you start a tradition that everyone enjoys.

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