Secret Santa 101

With the holidays just around the corner, everyone is dipping into their wallets to participate in one of the most traditional holiday favorites: Secret Santa.  Some may call it Secret Snowflake, Hanukkah Harry, or Kwanzaa Kenny,  but no matter what your religion or what name you give it, it’s sometimes challenging to buy gifts for friends, co-workers, or organization members that you may not know too well.  As a Secret Santa gift exchange participant, I’ve got a few helpful tips to get you through without breaking the bank or showing up with a lame gift.

  • First and foremost, be sure to come up with a limit on how much everyone should spend. Feelings get hurt when someone with a 99 cent gift stares longingly at someone’s shiny new video game.  The most common cap I have seen is $10. We are in college, so keep it relatively low.
  • Don’t tell who you have or try to figure out who has you. Don’t be a scrooge, enjoy the surprise! If you’re worried your gift will be lame, then send this list out over a listserv to be sure everyone understands how to be a good Secret Santa.
  • If you don’t know much about the person that you selected, ask around! Hopefully this person has a few friends, so I’m sure they would be more than happy to give you some ideas of what that person would like.  It’s also helpful to have everyone list 3 things they would like.  This way, you are sure you are getting the person exactly what they want.  Just don’t be that person to list some extravagant or embarrassing gift.  Save those things for Santa.
  • Enjoy what you receive.  It’s the spirit of giving, not how wonderful your present is.  Just try to have fun with it!  If someone complains to you, ignore them.  They are greedy. Remember to say “thank you” to whoever gave you a gift. Chances are they worried about it just as much as you did, so be nice!

Elfster is a great website to use for Secret Santas to ensure everything is kept, well, secret.  Everyone just signs up and a name is drawn randomly and sent to your email.  It even continues to remind you that your Secret Santa is coming soon!  Otherwise, drawing names out of a hat works just fine too.

Hopefully these tips help ensure you have a fun and successful Secret Santa this holiday season.  Happy Holidays!

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Kristin Piazza

Senior majoring in journalism, THON Donor and Alumni Relations Captain


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