How to Participate in a Secret Santa

Updated on September 6, 2019
Suzie HQ profile image

Suzanne loves the holidays and enjoys giving tips on how to celebrate them.

Secret Santa

it's the thought that counts when giving a present.
it's the thought that counts when giving a present. | Source

During the festival of Christmas, Secret Santa, or as we Irish often say, Kris Krindle, comes into play in many countries throughout the Western world.

A tradition that goes back many years, it is the art of giving a gift, usually of small value within large groups of people, anonymously.

Well, that’s the simplified version and like many traditions, over time and when used in different countries, additional elements to add interest are thrown into the pot to spice things up a bit.

Christmas is not only a time for giving gifts but for creating special Christmas memories that will be remembered and treasured. A time for simple pleasures like a meal with loved ones or a walk in the countryside on a crisp winter's day.

Secret Santa For Families

Secret Santa is something our family decided to do a few years ago for the festive season.

As the family grew with partners and children, it was proving a very costly time of year that quite frankly was crazy.

Yes we love giving each other gifts but the reality was we were spending way too much that we paid for in the New Year. Bills had to be paid and Mr credit card would come a knocking looking for his monthly contribution.

Instead we opted to do Kris Krindle between the adults individually or more recently between couples which made even more sense financially.

We would set a limit of the amount to spend and we pulled names out of a hat. Unfortunately for some members of the family, staying incognito, anonymous or secret proved impossible with the temptation to find out who was giving to whom too great.

I have been part of doing secret santa in workplaces too which has always proved a fun thing to do with everyone receiving and giving a token gift that invariably has had a humorous theme rather than an actual practical side!

Thieving Santa Is Also Known As

  • White Elephant Gift Exchange
  • Nasty Christmas
  • Dirty Santa
  • Yankee Swap
  • Snatchy Christmas Rat
  • Devil’s Santa
  • The Grinch Game

Different Versions of Secret Santa

Throughout time the rules of this game have been tweaked and changed like a game of Chinese whispers. Whilst the bones of the original idea is there, some flexible rule additions make for interesting participation in gift giving.

  • Pulling Names Out Of A Hat: Normally done well before Christmas time, this version is where all the participants take it in turn to pull a name out of the hat. The name you pull out is the recipient of your gift. An amount to spend is decided on and can obviously vary considerably. The gift should be given anonymously (as is tradition) or what many people do is to hand their gift to their recipient, thereby revealing their identity.
  • An additional idea is to write down some wish-list gift suggestions with your name before putting it into the hat. This is particularly useful for families so you purchase something that they actually need as opposed to wasting money on a gift they don’t want or need. If you have decided on a mid to high limit to spend, this is definitely worth considering. Great for large groups such as schools and places of work. A token amount is often set and the presents are all put onto a table with the recipient’s name on each but never the name of their secret santa. For young school children putting the gifts under a rug and having each child pick one is something kids will love. Our family does this for the kids and they love pulling gifts out and seeing who it is for!
  • Thieving Secret Santa: In this version everyone buys a gift that is suitable for anyone participating. Wrapped in a way so as to hide the true nature of the present, it is put with all the other gifts with no receiver name attached. Each person then takes turns in selecting a gift or may steal a previously opened gift. What a riot that would be!
  • Casino Santa: Everyone participating buys a gift of a pre-determined amount that may be suitable for anyone in the secret santa. All the group additionally agree on a cash amount to put into a pot. To determine who goes first, pull names out of a hat for the order.

There are three different choices you can make here:

A) You pick a gift.

B) You don’t take a gift but opt to go into a draw for the money.

C) You decide to go into a draw for all the unclaimed gifts that were not chosen.

Online Secret Santa

It was only a matter of time until Santa also turned to the technological world of online business.

The Secret Santa Generator is something new to me.

If your group is very large and pulling names out of a hat is impractical and too time consuming, this sounds an ideal option for those busy secret santa’s amongst us.

Basically any one of different websites offer to contact all the gift recipients telling them who they need to buy their gift for (computer generated).

They contact everyone on the list you provide by email or sms messaging and is a free of charge service on the sites I checked out.

These are definitely worth checking out.

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How to Participate in a Secret Santa Comments

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    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Gypsy Rose Lee,

      So nice to hear your comments and that you find secret santa a good idea! Wishing you seasons greetings from the Emmerald Isle, have a great holiday!! Thanks for your thumbs up and for sharing this :-)

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      7 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      Thanks for sharing this great hub with a wonderful idea. Ideal way to give gifts and save money too. Passing this on.

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi teaches,

      Lovely to have you here again you are a great follower!! Glad this brought back some memories of secret santa in work. I used to do this in a few jobs and you are right when you say it lifts staff at the holiday season. Hoping you are well and all set for next week. Thanks again!!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      I agree with you on the fun and humor that can add to this Secret Santa event. I remember participating in this when I worked at a couple of companies. It made the season so much more meaningful for the employees.

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Bill,

      Thanks buddy for taking a read here, glad you enjoyed it. I t definitely a tradition that many seem to have done or are doing in one form or another be it work or in families. Cheers for the votes and shares, much appreciate your continual support Bill. Have a great weekend!!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hey Suzie. I remember well doing this with our nieces and nephews when our kids were younger. As adults Terry's family would do a secret santa every Xmas eve. It makes for great fun.

      Another winner here, great job. Voting up and sharing.

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi maddot,

      Thanks for reading and lovely to know you enjoyed. Have a good one down under!!! :-)

    • maddot profile image


      7 years ago from Northern NSW, Australia

      Merry Xmas from Down under ..great hub

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Bill,

      I remember that type of thing happening in work so I had to have a few "RESERVE" gifts just in case, as the boss! Glad you enjoyed my dear friend, I feel I am getting a brain freeze at times, nothing flowing on to the page!! LOL

      Appreciate all your amazing support shown in the past 7 months, it has been one hell of a journey into the unknown for this "writer" but I could not be more grateful to HP and all my new friends. Have a great weekend Bill thanks for everything .

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      We did this every single year that I was a teacher. Kids love it, and it is fun, until you get the one twerp who decides he doesn't like the kid he has drawn, and so doesn't get anything for that poor kid. Then we have problems in the classroom.

      Cool hub my Irish friend; keep them coming and I'll keep reading.



    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi JThomp42,

      Many thanks for dropping by! Glad you enjoyed this and Christmas is a great time for giving to other's in many different ways not just in presents but of ourselves. Have a great Chrimbo! :-)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Christmas is such a wonderful holiday for giving. Well,, so is everyday. :) Great hub Suzie.


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