What is secret Santa?
Secret Santa is a holiday classic that warms the heart in every family and work gathering or other holiday parties with friends and old classmates. The game adds a dash of surprise in each party shared among young and old alike. The secret Santa rules are to exchange gifts with members of a group of individuals anonymously. The identity of the secret Santa will be revealed on the gift-giving day. The key thought here is anonymously given. Gift exchange has never been this fun and exciting, especially the idea of getting a gift from someone who is least likely to provide you with one.
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Philanthropist Larry Dean Stewart started this Secret Santa tradition. He gave away $100 bills secretly for the last 25 years to people in Kansas during the holiday season. He also gave $10,000 as a secret donation for the 9/11 attack. As such, he was called the “original secret Santa.”
Although this concept started in the US, Secret Santa is known as something different in other countries: people in the UK call it Kris Kringle; Irish calls it Kris Kindle (means Christ Child); Germans call it Wichtein; Filipinos call it Manito-manita.
How to play secret Santa the traditional way
1. Distribute small pieces of paper and write the names of all participants in each paper.
Cut out one big piece of paper into small papers of the same size. Have the participants write their names.
New acquaintances or friends: for huge groups with people not knowing each other that much, ask them to put some distinguishing features or characteristics.
For intimate circle: Just put the names on the paper.
2. Toss the names inside a hat or glass bowl.
Once everyone is done writing their names on the sheet of paper, each paper should be folded in half once or twice to prevent others from seeing the names inside. Then, throw the papers in the hat or glass bowl and mix or toss them around like a salad.
3. Set a price limit.
To make sure gift-giving is fair and avoid grumpy looks from receivers because of “cheap” gifts bought from the dollar store, set a price that is acceptable to all participants.
4. Draw names.
Have each participant select one name from the hat. They must pick again, though, if they get their names.
5. Set an exchange gift date.
To allow time to purchase the gifts, participants must agree on a specific date to swap presents.
6. Revelation day.
The identity of the secret Santa will be revealed on the gift-giving day. You can play a game such as guest your secret Santa. Otherwise, let Santa give hints about his partner and let the rest guess who it is.
Variations of Secret Santa
To make Secret Santa double the fun, why not make both giver and receiver anonymous to each other. Here is how:
- Each player will choose a pseudo name or alias to write on the paper. Make the names as creative as you can that will surely make everyone guessing and laughing at the same time.
- Participants will agree on a price limit, and each player should write at least three wish lists within the price limit.
- There will be two sets of gift-giving: weekly or bi-weekly (whichever is convenient) and the final gift. Set the dates for both.
- The weekly or bi-weekly gift-giving is applicable for people who meet regularly. You can set unique themes each week priced pretty low at a minimum of $1. Choose themes such as something soft, long or naughty, the more creative, the better.
- Put the gifts in a box weekly (biweekly). You will need to pick your gift with your name on it without being caught.
- Secret Santa will choose one gift on the wishlist as a present.
- On the revelation day, the host will choose a gift from the box where everyone will guess who that person is together with the secret Santa.
Online Secret Santa
Holiday gatherings are so much fun with food and activities such as secret Santa. There are instances though that not everyone could make it to the party resulting in the birth of online secret Santa. Now, people who can’t be physically present during the party can join in the fun.
Here are some websites you can play secret Santa online:
How to Play Secret Santa Online
Through the Secret Santa generator, people who can’t meet in person to draw names from a hat will no longer feel left out, even for people who are halfway across the globe. Here is how you can join in the fun:
1. Invite other participants to set up an online Secret Santa gift exchange account. They must submit their name, email address, and wishlist.
2. Randomize the names of all participants. Each player will receive a name with a wish list drawn out randomly through the name generation list. We will keep track of the master list of the paired participants.
3. Create a wish list. Players can list their wishes or gift inspirations based on the price limit agreed by everyone in the group. They can even send the link of where it can be purchased to make it more specific. For players who want to clarify something with their partner, they can send in their questions. Sending questions without blowing up your cover has never been easy because we can send them on your behalf.
4. Exchange gifts. On the scheduled day for an exchange gift, each participant will bring presents. Secret Santa should only reveal himself once the gift has been opened.
5. Global party. Nothing is impossible in this day and age. Participants in remote places can join the global party hosted online. If traveling is not an option, then virtual global parties are the best option. Gifts can be sent via couriers even halfway around the globe but must only be opened on the day of the party.
The thought of Santa Claus alone brings a smile to every child’s face. Bring the nostalgic feel of childhood through Secret Santa, giggling at the mystery behind the gift. Gatherings will always be extra fun and exciting with a sprinkle of magic and mystery from the mysterious giver personally handed or delivered via courier. Feel like a child once again as you open that present and share happiness with the people around you.