The Problems with Secret Santa - Numberphile
How to Do a Secret Santa
The point of "Secret Santa" is to make Christmas shopping easier and to spread around the spirit of giving to those who you might not normally have on your Christmas list. It involves a group of people exchanging names for a secret gift exchange. Consider playing 'secret Santa' at your next holiday get together, or learn the instructions for a round of the game you've already been invited to.
Playing the Game
Write the names of everyone participating on a piece of paper.If the group is larger and people don't know each other that well, it is a good idea to get people to write their names and some distinguishing features/interests such as "male astronomy buff, 65" or "female triathlete devotee, 34". In more intimate group environments, only the name of the person is necessary.
Cut out and toss the names into a hat.The next step is to prepare the names for a drawing. Cut each name out, and then fold it in half once or twice to prevent people from reading it without unfolding it. Then, place all the folded names into a bowl or hat and mix them around a bit so that the names are shuffled.
Set a price limit.This can be done in discussion with the whole group or just by those who are organizing the event. The price limit is set so that some people don’t try to be cheap and get away with purchasing a gift for only a few dollars, while others try to overachieve and purchase very expensive gifts. Select a price limit in the ‘happy medium’ range that you know everyone in the group can afford. It’s better to be safe than sorry and choose a lower price range than to choose something too high that some people don’t have enough money for.
Draw names.Work around the group, giving everyone the opportunity to draw a single name randomly out of the hat. Keep the names folded and hidden until everyone has drawn. At this point each person can look at their name, as long as they are careful not to say who they have or to show anyone else their slip of paper. If someone draws their own name, have them redraw.
Set a gift-giving date.The next step is for everyone to go out and purchase a gift (within the price range) for the person whose name they drew from the hat. Typically, there is a second meeting time at which all the secret santa players exchange gifts and reveal whose name they had the whole time. Check with the members of the group and select a date and time several days in advance at which everyone can meet to exchange their gifts.
Purchase a gift.With your person in mind, go out and choose the perfect gift for them. Try to make it personal, and avoid choosing a generic gift like a coffee mug or a bag of candy. Be intentional about matching the price limit though, otherwise you may make your gift recipient or others uncomfortable with how cheap or how expensive you were.
Exchange gifts.When everyone in the group has purchased their gifts and met up together, you can begin the gift exchange. Wait until everyone is present, and continue keeping your gift recipient a secret until everyone is given a ‘go’ to start exchanging gifts. At that point, find the person to match the name you drew, and reveal your gift! Don’t forget you’ll be receiving a gift as well, so remain gracious and polite as you accept your present (even if you really don’t like what you got).
Part 1 Quiz
If the people participating in the secret Santa don't know each other very well, you should:
Choosing the Right Gift
Keep it appropriate.Gag gifts are fun sometimes, but in general you should always choose gifts that would not be perceived as inappropriate for a group setting.
Avoid alcohol.Unless your secret santa is happening at a wine tasting party, you shouldn’t assume that your gift recipient will appreciate a bottle of alcohol as much as you or someone else might. Especially at office parties, giving alcohol could create an awkward exchange if your recipient doesn’t like drinking or is recently sober. If your recipient is an alcohol enthusiast, try choosing a related gift rather than alcohol itself (like wine charms or a beer koozie).
Buy something practical.If you’re not quite sure what to get your person, play it safe and choose something that is practical and useful. That way, even if it isn’t something that they might have wanted, they will still have a use for it. Consider holiday ornaments, kitchen necessities, or a good book in a genre they’re interested in.
Get something specific.If you can, do a bit of research on your gift recipient in order to choose a gift that is truly tailored to them. Ask around, look at their work or social media profiles, or discreetly do a bit of questioning with them. They’ll appreciate the time and effort you put into choosing a gift that is special and geared towards them.
Consider making a gift.If you’re the creative type, a homemade gift done in good taste will seem personal and meaningful. Consider your recipient’s interests when making a gift for them, rather than just throwing together a bunch of scraps and appearing cheap. There is a big difference between making something creative and worthwhile, and making something cheap and lazy because you forgot to/didn’t buy something.
Part 2 Quiz
If you're uncertain as to what a person might like, you can always get them something:
QuestionWhat are some homemade gifts you can make?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you can sew, you could make a pillow or a blanket. You could learn to make homemade salt scrubs if your Secret Santa is female. If you can knit or crochet, your Secret Santa might like a scarf, hat, or sweater in their favorite sports team's colors.Thanks!
QuestionShould I tell my Secret Santa what I want?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can, but you shouldn't know who your Secret Santa is.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is a reasonable price to set for the gifts?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends on how much you have budgeted. If this is a smaller thing that's mostly informal and just for fun, is a good idea because you get to see people get creative with what they have. Do not exceed for any gathering.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I don't know what they like?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerHave a conversation with them and drop subtle hints. Don't outright ask, "What do you want for Christmas?" Ask questions such as, "What are your hobbies?" to get something relevant to that. Ask them about their favorite movies/games/books/etc.Thanks!
QuestionWhen do we give the presents out?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou give the presents out sometime near Christmas - usually around December 19.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I do a gift exchange so that the person doesn't know who the gift came from?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou could arrive early to school or work or wherever and place the gift at the person's desk or wherever they usually sit, or you could ask a mutual friend to give the person the gift, after they promise not to tell.Thanks!
QuestionDo you write your name on the present for a secret Santa gift?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. If you wrote your name on it, it wouldn't be a secret.Thanks!
QuestionWhen people do secret Santa, do they still buy for other people too, or just buy for the person they have for Secret Santa?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUsually, the point of a group choosing to do Secret Santa is for each person to only have to buy the one gift, thus saving everyone money and time.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are good presents to give my Secret Santa?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTea, coffee, candles, lotion, a journal, a calendar, a nice pen, candy, a gift certificate to a favorite lunch haunt, or a gift card to favorite place to shop.Thanks!
QuestionShould you disclose the name of the person you received?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThanks!
What is the best way to conduct a drawing. Can it be done online?
If I want to make one myself, but have no idea about which one?
How can I do a secret santa if I am too young to go to a shop on my own?
What do you call the person who receives the gifts from secret Santa?
How can I do a secret santa if the person I am buying for is always with me?
- If you aren't close with the person that you are buying for, just give them something that is useful. You can't go wrong with a helpful gift!
- Try to secretly get info from them.
Here is an example conversation. Them: I just saw this movie. It was really good. You: really? What is your favorite movie? Mine is ____.
- Make sure you draw one (1) name only.
- If you draw your own name, pop it back in and draw again.
- Make sure everyone participating in the event where the gifts are given out (like, who is actually physically going to be there) has their names are in the bowl.
- Another way you could do it is have each person list what they would like on the paper with their name on it, that way you don't have to ask them or snoop around to find out.
- Don't buy them something personal such as perfume, makeup, deodorant or food, everyone will have a different opinion.
- If you don't want to seem obvious that you don't know what to get them, play personal trivia with them.
- Secret Santa is also called Kris Kringle in some places.
- Make sure you get there early when they are not there whether school or at work.
- For example if your secret Santa is your teache,then ask questions about what they like. Once you have the info that you need, you can leave it on their desk early before they get to school, or when they are distracted.
- Don't tell anyone else about who you have otherwise the point of the game is ruined
- The person you are buying for absolutely should not know who drew them until the final gift exchange.
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Video: Secret Santa Challenge | WheresMyChallenge
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