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Having a Secret Santa at work is all part of the run-up to Christmas, whether you buy a thoughtful present or a prank gift it can lead to some laughs in the office. But, it does take some organisation and a small slip-up can ruin the entire game — so, what’s the best way to organise a Secret Santa?
1) Explain the rules
Although Secret Santa is a game that many of us have played, some people might never have heard of it or may be new to the concept. Send a group email around explaining the rules of the game, a simple way to describe it would be: “The aim of Secret Santa is to buy someone a gift and not let them know that it’s you. You will draw a random name out of a hat and buy for that person, more details to follow”.
You might want to explain a hypothetical scenario so people can get an idea of how to play and decide if they want to participate.
2) Put names in a hat
Always give people the option whether they want to get involved or not. Some people may be off the last week of work before Christmas or may not want to spend money on a gift for someone they may not necessarily know if you work in a large office. Send an email around and ask people to RSVP if they want to participate and give a deadline.
When you’ve got your final list, download our Secret Santa Kit and print off your name list. Complete the boxes with everyone who wants to get involved and cut them out. Fold up the squares so that nobody can see the name that’s inside and place inside a “hat” (e.g. bowl or plastic box).
Invite everyone to pick their name out of the “hat”, tell them that if they pick their own name out they should put it back and pick out a new one.
Apart from that exception, people should not be allowed to swap their name for another. If someone is absent, one person should pick a name out of the “hat” for them (without peeking) and leave it on their desk for their return.
3) Decide on budget and date
You should decide on a budget. A general rule is £10-15, or if you want to encourage humorous and novelty gifts, you could set a £5 limit.
There should also be a deadline date and a gift exchange date. The deadline date should be a date when everyone can receive their gift. Some people choose to put an annual holiday in before Christmas and would like to pick up their present before they go. The gift exchange date is usually the day that the office closes for Christmas.
Choose a location to leave gifts. Is there a Christmas tree in the office? This could be the perfect location for people to drop off their presents, or a spare desk for example.
Are there any extra details? Some people like to set a theme for their Secret Santa — this could be mugs, calendars or novelty jumpers for example. It’s up to you!
4) Give everyone details
Once you’ve decided on the above, print off your Secret Santa information poster and fill it in. Stick it somewhere that everyone can see or email it around the office so people know how it will work and have a date to purchase a gift by.
You could give out present hints too or invite them to use The Present Finder for inspiration.
5) Organise the gift exchange
You might want to do some organisation ahead of the gift exchange. Do you want to put a festive buffet on while people open their presents? Or perhaps there are some end of year awards to give out and you may use this as the perfect opportunity. Whatever you decide, it should be an exciting occasion.
Download Our Kit for a Secret Santa that runs smoothly this year!