When to give Secret Santa Gifts
If you are thinking of setting up a Secret Santa then you might be wondering about arranging a time to do the gift exchange. In reality, getting a whole group of people to be in the same place at the same time can be tricky so here are a few tips and tricks for making sure the exchange goes smoothly.
Planning your gift exchange
The first step to planning your secret Santa is deciding who’s going to be included. It really helps if you can get everyone’s names before you allocate names as it’s hard to add people after this has happened. Equally, you need to make sure everyone is up for it as you don’t want someone to be left out at the last minute.
If it’s an office Secret Santa then it’s best to ask everyone. If it’s a group of friends or family then offer up the idea and see who’s game.
Once you have your list then it’s time to pick a time for the gift exchange to happen. The best option is to find a time when everyone will already be there. So if it’s a work based Secret Santa the office Christmas party could be a good option. Or if it’s a smaller group you could organise drinks or a meal and exchange gifts then.
Make sure everyone knows that’s when the exchange is planned for and perhaps have a contingency plan for if someone doesn’t turn up. You could arrange for people to drop off their gifts in the week prior to the event or even buy a backup gift that could be given to anyone just in case someone doesn’t make it.
If you are planning a secret Santa and know that you won’t be able to get everyone in the same place don’t worry. You can still exchange gifts even if you live on the other side of the world. Just pick a deadline for posting the gifts and plan a date a couple of weeks later when you can all get online and open them together.
And if even that’s too much of a logistical nightmare just have a message thread where people can unveil their gifts as they open them.
Alternatives to traditional secret Santa
Secret Santa’s origins are in the anonymous gift-giving rather than the exchanging of gifts so there’s no need to have any fixed rules. You could just give anonymous gifts if that’s what you fancy.
An easy way to modify the game so anyone can take part is to just tell each person to buy a gift of a set value. This might work well for a toddler group or exercise class for example where different people turn up each week. You could arrange an exchange for the last meet before Christmas and just let everyone know that if they are coming they should bring a gift. Again you might want to have a spare in reserve just in case anyone forgets.
If you’re not giving a specific recipient a theme can be fun. So tell everyone to buy condiments or Christmas decorations or a gift they have been given but never used. This makes the whole thing a bit sillier and means it matters less what you actually get.
You could even come up with a list of good secret Santa gifts so people have some ideas.