Secret Santa is a gift-sharing experience you may encounter at a Christmas party, the workplace or community group. The basic idea is to buy a gift for someone without them knowing who played Father Christmas.

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Party Santas

If you are hosting a Christmas party, here are some ideas on Secret Santa gift sharing.

Invite your guests to bring one wrapped mystery item. On arrival, ask each guest to place the gift in a large basket or tub by the door. Later, each guest will draw a number from a bowl. If you have 20 guests, that’s 1 to 20. Whoever draws number one has the first lucky dip in the basket. Next goes number two, then number three – and so on.

Each selection is made in front of the group and the gift is unwrapped for the gathered audience. There are no swaps. You keep what you pick.

Secret Santa 194981891This is where the entertainment comes in. If you encourage just enough guests to bring something humorous (like joke spectacles or a whoopee cushion), a few more to bring something desirable but inexpensive (like a beautifully crafted tree decoration or bottle of Sauvignon Blanc) and a handful to bring something utterly dull (like a toilet brush or a plug for the sink), you will have a perfect mixture. As the host, you can maybe include one of the quality gifts to ensure at least one person is going to leave happy with their selection.

Now here is the warning. Our How to Christmas team has experienced this before and know it works brilliantly – but is not for the faint-hearted or humourless. For example, one year a guest unwrapped a red and white thong in packaging that read: “Posing Pouch”. It got plenty of laughs.

The following year, egged on by this thong revelation, a few others decided to get in on the naughtiness and bought furry handcuffs and rather risqué pasta. The faces of the people opening these gifts were Christmas joys to behold. A new Christmas tradition was born. Trepidation preceded every bit of unwrapping. The laughs were guaranteed. Give it a whirl. We don’t think you’ll regret it.

Workplace Elfing

Secret Santa can also be referred to in some quarters as ‘Elfing’. How about bringing it to your workplace? Ask your colleagues who would like to be involved. Anyone who doesn’t is technically classed as a Gnome. Elect a Head Elf to organise proceedings and a Deputy Elf to ensure there is fair play.

Put all the participant’s names into two bowls. Draw a name out of the first bowl. edelfThis is the Elf – the gift-giver. Draw a name out of the second bowl. This is the recipient. Deputy Elf should write down the pairings. Repeat the process until all the names have been drawn. Put the names back in the two bowls and reverse the process. By the end of the second draw you will be in a situation where everyone is receiving and giving a gift.

Notes in envelopes or emails are sent out telling you whom you are ‘Elfing’. Your task is then to send a small present with a note, maybe even a rhyme, relating to the gift or as a clue to your identity. The gifts should be left on the colleague’s desk or work area – maybe even delivered by a third party. Anonymity is key for a few days at least. Remember – Secret Santa.

It’s worth putting a limit on the price of the gift so there are no expectations of lavish presents. Some of the best gifts are those that hone in on the individual’s tastes – assuming you know them that well. A lottery ticket works too (put a proviso in to share if they win) or something humorous like a gaudy musical Christmas tie.

All of this takes place each day for the last five days or so before the workplace closes for the Christmas break. On the final day, the Head Elf gathers everyone together and the name of your Elf is revealed. Secret Santa no more.