It’s that time of the year again when offices get a whole lot merrier – decorating the cubicles with mistletoe and holly, planning the office Christmas party, so it’s high time to get the office gift exchange organized. The best way to do it is Secret Santa, of course. It is one of my favorite holiday traditions because it is Christmasy to its very core – you get to spread some Christmas cheer and surprise someone you don’t usually have on your Christmas list, and there is a double element of surprise when you get your present and finally find out who your Secret Santa is. If you don’t know how to organize or participate in his gift-giving game, here is how it goes:
1. Drawing the Names
Well, you can do this two ways. The old fashioned way is writing names of everyone participating on a piece of paper. If you are doing this with a smaller group of people, who you are more familiar with, names are all it takes. If you are, however, organizing a Secret Santa for your office, where people don’t know each other that well, it might be a good idea to have people write a few things about themselves as well (Tena – book lover, a bit of a Trekkie and a Whovian, chocoholic). Mind you, if you write “a Ferrari lover”, don’t expect to get one and keep your expectations real. Secret Santa is symbolic.
Then put all the bits of paper into a (Christmasy) hat or a box and pass it around for everyone to draw just one name – this is the person they are getting a present for. This can get a bit tricky as there is always a chance you draw your own name and have to redraw, and if some people are not physically in the office, well, you would just have to haul them in.
You can also do this digitally – there are numerous sites which help you draw names virtually, saving you all the fuss. Try Elfster, Secret Santa Random Name Generator, Sneaky Santa or Secret Santa Generator. All these platforms assign a secret gift giver from a pool of participants and alert people about their Secret Santa gift recipient via e-mail. Some of them also have more options, like creating special invitations, virtual events or wishlists, and some just scramble and draw names for you, so browse through them and choose the one that suits your needs.
Secret Santa game does have some rules, and they do not involve being good or naughty. First, set a price limit – the point of Secret Santa is to get to know people a bit better and get closer to them. The gift you are giving is symbolic, it is a gesture of friendship. Select a happy medium range that everybody in the group can easily afford. Setting the price limit might seem a bit strict, but it really takes a lot of pressure off because you don’t have to worry if you are over – or underdoing it when it comes to the price tag. The whole point is to have fun, not to fret over whether you’ve spent enough money on your bosses gift.
Next, set a gift-giving date. It might be at the office Christmas party, or a quiet get together, it may even be over the lunch break – but make sure there is a bit of a Christmas atmosphere!
If you are exchanging gifts with a closer group of friends, you probably need no guidance – just pick something you know will make the other person happy. If you are getting a gift for a co-worker that you are just not that familiar with, this might be a bit more of a pickle. If there is a wishlist, stick to it, and if there isn’t one, use the short description from the Secret Santa paper you drew to get something a bit more personal.
If you still have no idea what to get, well, try SecretSanta.Me and let the app decide for you, or at least give you a couple of ideas. This is basically a Christmas tombola – you launch the app, spin the Secret Santa Tombola and the Secret Santa.Me will find the perfect present and let you purchase it on Amazon. This app was developed by Clock, a company founded with a loan from The Prince’s Trust, so all Amazon’s referral fees from this Tombola will be donated straight back to the charity. Basically, you are giving a gift to the person who is assigned to you, but also a completely random stranger who will one day be funded by The Prince’s Trust- it doesn’t get more Christmasy than that!
Get together, preferably over some good food and eggnog. The person who organized the whole event can start the whole process by presenting the allotted present to the person from their Secret Santa note. Then that persona gives the gift to their allotted Secret Santa gift recipient and this goes on until everybody has their present and there is a lot of Christmas cheer all around.
But remember, the most important thing is to never let it slip who you are giving a gift to before the actual exchange! It is all about the element of surprise.
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