How to be a good Secret Santa? Tips for a successful gift exchange

How to be a good Secret Santa? Tips for a successful gift exchange
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Secret Santa is a gift exchange game popular around the world. In it, players exchange personalized presents without revealing their identity. Each participant gets a desired gift and creates a little miracle for another player. 

Becoming a Secret Santa for someone is a responsible task. You need to choose a gift that the recipient will like, choose the packaging, sign the gift card, and, most importantly, stay anonymous until the gift exchange day. Things get even trickier if you don’t know the recipient well. 

In this article, we will share tips for all new Santas. You will learn how to become a good Secret Santa for someone, how to choose a present, and other things to take care of. 

Table of Contents

  1. What is Secret Santa? 
  2. How to choose a perfect gift for Secret Santa? 
  3. Using MySanta app to help with your Secret Santa 
  4. Christmas gift ideas for everyone 
  5. How to exchange presents
  6. Tips to make your Secret Santa exchange a success

What is Secret Santa? 

Secret Santa, also known as Kris Kringle, is a holiday gift exchange game. People draw names out of the box or use an online generator to find out who gives a present to whom. Each Santa is responsible for giving a gift to the assigned person without revealing themselves. If you haven’t played Secret Santa before, read our guide to playing Secret Santa

You can organize a Secret Santa exchange in a few steps: 

1.     Get all the players together. People write their names on paper with a few suggestions about what to give them. 

2.     Draw names. All players draw names from the box randomly or use an online generator. With an online game organizer, you can also set exceptions (i.e. Jennifer will not give to Jack). 

3.     Set the rules. Decide on the gift budget and the date when all presents should be ready. Set a theme for a gift exchange if you wish, and decide how you will exchange gifts – in person or online. 

4.     The gift exchange begins. On the gift exchange day, everyone brings presents to the party. Players open their presents in turn and guess their Secret Santa. 

Basically, you have two main goals as a Secret Santa – to choose a gift that the recipient will be excited to get, and not to reveal yourself in any way. 

How to choose a perfect gift for Secret Santa? 

When choosing a present for Secret Santa, try to avoid generic gifts such as a box of sweets or a bottle of wine (unless your giftee asks for them specifically). Choose a personalized present based on the interests and wishes of your giftee. The thought and effort you put in are just as valuable as the gift itself. 

If you need to buy a present for a coworker or a group member you don’t know well, here are some strategies to help you: 

·      Study their wishlist. It is a common practice to give Secret Santa a few hints about what to buy. If you draw names in person, players can write their wishes next to their names. Online Secret Santa generators allow you to create wishlists. For example, in our MySanta app, each player can add items with links, and their Secret Santa will receive personalized gift recommendations. 

·      Find them on social media. If you don’t know the person well, browse their social media pages. Pay attention to how they spend their free time, what they enjoy, their lifestyle, etc. These insights will help you understand what gift the person will enjoy. 

·      Start a secret chat. In MySanta app, you can speak to your giftee anonymously. Ask them questions about their likes and dislikes. But don’t just ask “What can I get you for Christmas?” Instead, learn more about the person’s hobbies, interests, their favorite color/TV show/music/football team. Try to surprise your giftee – giving great gifts unexpectedly is more fun! 

·      Stay on budget. If the gift budget is $20, try to stay within this amount. This is important to keep the exchange equal. If you draw the name of your best friend, you will probably want to give them something personalized and expensive. Yet, it can confuse other players. 

·      Follow the gift themes. The game host can set a theme for presents, i.e. funny gifts, practical gifts, gadgets, or home décor. The theme narrows down your options plus gives the giftee an idea about what to expect. 

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Did you know? According to the survey by Wilko, top Secret Santa gifts people would like to receive are alcohol, gift cards, candles, books, sweets, bubble baths, notebooks, and lotions. But it is always best to consider the specific interests of your recipient. 

Take the time to learn more about your giftee and their preferences. Thus, you will choose a thoughtful gift that will make them happier. 

Using MySanta app to help with your Secret Santa 

MySanta app allows you add unlimited players, chat anonymously, and more. Image: MySanta

Organizing the Secret Santa for a large group of friends or coworkers is not an easy task. With our MySantaapp, you can keep track of everything even if dozens of people are participating. Here’s how MySanta can make holiday gift-giving easier: 

·      Share gift preferences. When joining the gift exchange, each player writes what they want for Christmas and what they don’t. Thus, each Secret Santa has clues to start with. 

·      Add items to the wishlist. People can also create personalized wishlists and add links to gifts on Amazon, Walmart, or else. You can review the wishlist and buy exactly what your giftee is dreaming about. 

·      Use a secret chat. Talk to your giftee to learn more about them, their likes and dislikes, and their lifestyle. Remember not to reveal yourself! 

·      Keep things organized. In addition to gift recommendations, MySanta helps organize the seamless exchange for any group of people. The game host can see who has bought gifts and who needs a reminder. Plus, you can set exceptions if some people in your group don’t get along well.

Christmas gift ideas for everyone 

If, despite all clues, you are still wondering what exactly to buy for your giftee, consider these recommendations: 

·      Give a practical gift. A paper planner or diary for the next year, good stationery, a travel pillow, a thermal mug, or a small vacuum cleaner might not be their dream gift. Yet, such a gift will not collect the dust on the shelf. 

·      Bring something handmade. A unique handmade gift will stand out and impress your giftee. Yet, it is a good idea to ask your giftee if they are okay with handmade gifts. 

·      Give experiences, not things. Instead of bringing a Christmas-related item, why not give them a great experience? Consider a movie gift card, live concert tickets, spa gift card, flying yoga class, or a membership or subscription. 

·      Prepare something creative. Think beyond the traditional Christmas gift ideas and prepare something unusual for your assigned person. Think therapy dough, custom dinner plate, scalp massager, music playing cards, fun banana preserver, or a Secret Santa T-shirt. 

Practical gifts

·      Paper planner or organizer

·      Good stationery

·      Travel pillow

·      Thermal mug

·      Mini vacuum cleaner

Handmade gifts

·       Classic gingerbread

·       DIY emoji ornaments

·       Christmas jam 

·       Bath bomb

·       Cute pillow 

Experience gifts

·      Movie gift card

·      Concert tickets

·      Flying yoga class

·      Mixology class

·      Spa gift card

Creative gifts

·       Therapy dough 

·       Custom dinner plate

·       Scalp massager

·       Music playing cards

·       Secret Santa T-shirt.

How to exchange presents

There are two ways to exchange presents in Secret Santa: 

·      In-person – if you organize a Christmas party, all players bring their presents to the party or in advance. Each gift should be wrapped and have a recipient’s name on it. The game host puts all gifts under the Christmas tree or on the table. Players go to the table in turn and guess their Secret Santa. 

·      By mail – if players are located in different cities or on different continents, each player sends the gift in advance by mail or using a delivery service. The game host schedules a video call, and all players unwrap their presents, sharing the joy and excitement. 

The most important thing is staying anonymous. Remember that you shouldn’t reveal yourself in any way when bringing (or sending) the present!

Tips to make your Secret Santa exchange a success

Purchase the gift on time

Preparing a thoughtful gift takes time. You need to learn more about your giftee and choose packaging and gift card. If you exchange presents online, you should send the present early so that it arrives before Christmas. Buy the present and take care of everything in advance. If you forget about the gift in a hassle before Christmas, the holiday will be spoiled for your giftee. 

Make sure everyone knows the rules

If you play at work or with a big online group, there are probably people who haven’t done Secret Santa before. Make sure that everyone knows what gifts to buy, what to avoid, when to bring gifts and whether you will use a theme for presents. Explain the importance of keeping the recipient’s name secret. Thus, you will avoid confusing situations. 

Follow the gift etiquette

Don’t bring personal gifts, such as perfume, underwear, health-related products, or cash. Talk to your giftee in a secret chat to find out if they are allergic to something. An inappropriate gift can confuse the recipient, and if you play Secret Santa in the office, it can land you in the HR office. Stick to the gift budget – if your present is too cheap or too expensive, other players might feel uncomfortable. 

Be grateful 

You will receive a gift, too, so remember to accept it with grace. Even if the gift doesn’t meet your expectations, don’t act disappointed. Remember that your Santa has invested time and effort in choosing a gift. A simple “thank you” is a good, considerate response. 

Becoming a good Secret Santa is easy – you need to consider the wishes of your assigned player and the theme for the gift exchange. Remember to buy your present on time and stay within the budget so that exchanging gifts is fun and enjoyable for everyone. It is your chance to create a little miracle for someone, so put in the effort in choosing the gift – the person will appreciate it! 

If you are looking for a simple way to organize your Secret Santa game online, try our MySanta app. In it, you can create wishlists, add exclusions, and communicate with your assigned person secretly. Moreover, there is an option to track gifts and ensure that everyone buys a present on time.