How to Set Up a Secret Santa Gift Exchange at Your Office


Secret Santa gift exchanges are a great way for the office to spread some holiday cheer. Everyone randomly chooses another co-worker and is responsible for getting them a Christmas gift.

If you have been chosen to organize your workplace’s Secret Santa you have quite a task ahead of you. It will take some planning to get everyone on board, but if you can pull it off successfully then you will be responsible for bringing lots of Christmas cheer to the office.

Here are the steps that you will need to take in order to set up a Secret Santa event at your office:

Give Everyone Warning

In a mass email, let everyone know several weeks in advance that you will be organizing a Secret Santa event. People don’t like to find out this news at the last minute, as the holiday season is stressful enough already and they don’t want to have to hunt for a gift at the last minute.

Let everyone know the rules, such as the price limit for gifts and how everything will work. Ask them to email you back a confirmation by a certain date if they are interested in participating. Send out a couple of reminder emails right before the date in case people forget to email you back.

Don’t Pressure People

If some of your co-workers don’t want to participate, don’t pressure them into it. It doesn’t mean they are a big Scrooge, it could be for any number of reasons. Maybe their religion doesn’t celebrate Christmas or money is so tight that they can’t afford to buy an extra gift. Respect their decision and wish them a Happy Holidays anyway.

Set a Price Limit

Let your participants know how much they should be spending on their Secret Santa gift. Leaving it open ended means that some of your co-workers who can afford it might splurge on a nice gift, leaving some of the less affluent co-workers feeling shy and inadequate about their less fancy gift. To even the playing field and make it fair for everyone, a price range should be set which is affordable for everyone.

The Selection Process

The next step is to gather all of the names of the participants in the gift exchange and write them on a list. Then, print the list out and cut out each individual name so that it is a small slip of paper. Place the names in a hat or a basket and bring it around the office, allowing everyone to pick one. If they draw their own name they should put it back in the basket and try again. Make sure that people know that they are not supposed to reveal who they are buying a gift for.

Gift Ideas

The hardest part of a Secret Santa is when you draw the name of the co-worker that you don’t really know that well and you have no idea what to buy them. You can help people out with this by using index cards rather than slips of paper and asking each person to write a few point form notes about what they like on the card. This will help people come up with gift ideas that fit within the price range and that the recipient will actually enjoy.

The Gift Giving

There are several ways that you can organize the gift giving process for Secret Santa. One way is to leave it up to the participants to decide how to deliver their gifts. This leads to lots of sneaking around the office and placing gifts on co-workers desks when they are not looking, which can be a lot of fun. You could also have all of your co-workers gather together and place their gifts in a large pile so that a gift can’t be traced to any particular person.

Finally, have all of your participants open their gifts and enjoy their presents. They can reveal their identities at this point, or leave it a mystery, it is up to them. Afterwards, sit back and enjoy as your Secret Santa exchange has been a success.

If you are organizing a Secret Santa gift exchange for your office, here are some tips which will make it more successful.


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