Secret Santa Gifts
So just what is this Secret Santa stuff all about? The basic idea is that a group of people will agree and arrange for each person in the group to give one other person in the group a gift. The "Secret" bit comes about from the person receiving the gift not knowing who gave them the gift.
The "Santa" bit of the name implies that this gift giving is done around the Christmas festive season. For a work place this will normally be just before Christmas, maybe on the last day of work before people disappear for the holiday season, or it may be done in conjunction with the Christmas Party.
For a family, or group of friends, this could even be done on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or just after whenever the group get together or decide otherwise.
To do this in a fair and reasonable way, there needs to be a set of rules or agreements has to how this group gift giving is arranged.
Typically the group needs to decide:
- 1). How to distribute the gifts: Who give to whom.
- 2). When and how to give the gifts.
- 3). A reasonable budget, if necessary, to ensure that the gifts are equitable.
- 4). An optional aid to help choose the gifts.
Each of the above is discussed below:
How to distribute the gifts: (who gives to whom)
There are a number of ways to arrange who each persons gift is given to. The important thing is that each person should give one gift and each person should receive one gift and that the person who received the gift must not know who gave the gift.
There is an important decision to be made here. Should the person giving the gift know who they are giving the gift to or should the gifts be assigned randomly after they have been provided?
The first option does give those who like choosing gifts the option of targeting the gift to a particular person, which can be fun. The latter may make it more equitable but can complicate choosing a gift in a mixed group of males and females! That bottle of perfume may not suit Bob the builder but there again...
If everyone is going to know who they will be giving a gift too, a method of assigning who is giving to whom needs to be decided. One simple way for this to be done is the simpe "name in the hat" method.
Each person in the group has their name written onto an individual piece of paper which is folded to obscure the name, and put into some sort of container, traditionally a hat. Each person in the group then, in turn, takes one piece of paper from the container and secretly looks at the name. This is the person to whom they will give their gift. There should be no cheating! No putting the piece of paper back and taking another one, no swapping between people and no conferring. Anyone caught cheating, sneaking of otherwise trying to find out who has who's name should be sanctioned. I will leave the form of sanction up to you!
Randomly assigning gifts to people can also be done using a hat. In this case simply number each gift, and put an equivalent set of number in the hat. Let each person choose which gift they get.
There is one drawback with random selection from a hat. There is a chance that one or more people will pick their own name, or gift number from the hat. In this case it is probably best that a re-selection is done. Unless of course you think that the gift you have selected is rather good!
When and how to give the gifts
It needs to be decided when and how the secret santa gift giving is going to occur. This needs to be decided in advance, at least to give each person adequate time to sort out their gift. As discussed, at the top of the article, the when really depends on the group and when is the most suitable or appropriate time. Typically, for a work place, this could be the Christmas Party of the last day at work before everyone goes off for the holiday period. The how also needs to be decided carefully otherwise it may be obvious who is giving what to whom.
A budget for the gifts
Unless you are all going to make your own gifts, you will probably need to set a budget for the gifts. Remember this is all supposed to be a bit of fun, so make sure that the upper price limit is reasonable for all of the people in the group. These budgets should be treated as a guide and don't make wild assumptions about what people can or would like to afford. Also try to set a reasonable lower limit as a guide too.
An aid to choosing the gifts
If you've decided on the option of people knowing who they are providing their gift for, it can be useful to get everyone to fill in a short questionnaire to help identify an appropriate gift. Make sure that everyone is happy with this and that the questions are not too obtrusive or irrelevant. A simple guide to their likes and dislikes is all that is required. For example:
- 1. Name:
- 2. What are your Hobbies?
- 3. Do you collect anything?
- 4. Who (dead/alive) you would like to meet?
- Please indicate your favourite:
C. Perfume: D. Author or type of book:
E. Films you don't have:
G. Type of music or artist:
Secret santa presents are often amusing, light hearted gifts that are appropriate to the person's interests or personality. Sometimes they are risque. This all depends on the group in question.
Examples of secret santa gifts are: a desktop golf game for a golfing enthusiast, a cheeky sportsman warmer for the keen hiker or runner, a resurrection plant for someone who does not have green fingers, bell mug or beer burglar alarm for someone who likes their beer, belly button brush for the person who has everything, desktop bouncer or henry hoover for the office worker.
Things not to buy
Of course, in some cases you should be careful about the sort of gifts you provide particularly if you don't know who is going to be receive it. For example, tobacco products might well be inappropriate for many people. Even alcohol may cause problems in some cases. Other items you may need to be careful about include religious and risque. So be careful.
Don't look a gift horse...
And finally, when you receive your gift, try to be gracious what ever it might be. The old adage of "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth" really does apply here. You should not even know who provided the gift so you won't know who you may upset if you appear ungrateful. For some ideas take a look at our secret santa gifts.