How to Organize a Secret-Santa Event at Work

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Spread holiday cheer around the workplace with a Secret Santa exchange.
Spread holiday cheer around the workplace with a Secret Santa exchange. (Image: DragonImages/iStock/Getty Images)

Secret Santa is a fun way for you and your coworkers to get in the Christmas spirit. It also fosters a sense of togetherness and boosts morale at the workplace. Secret Santa involves getting a group of people together and exchanging gifts. Each person is randomly assigned a person with whom to exchange gifts. To keep things fun, the identity of the gift-giver is kept a secret until the exchange. It's relatively easy to organize a Secret Santa gift exchange at work.

Set Guidelines

Before inviting coworkers to partake in the Secret Santa festivity, set guidelines for participants. Determine a spending limit; a limit of $20 to $25 is typical. If you set the spending limit too high, it may decrease interest. Specify a time to sign up by and set a deadline for purchasing gifts as well as the exchange date. A good option is to exchange gifts on the last day of work prior to the holiday break. Encourage coworkers to set up wishlists in the set price range so gift-givers have an idea of what to get them.

Get the Word Out

Get the word out once you have solid guidelines in place. Send a group email at the beginning of December to give coworkers plenty of time to shop for a gift. Include all relevant information in the email. Send a reminder a week before the deadline. If your company doesn't use corporate email, print some basic flyers and put them in areas where as many coworkers as possible are likely to see them. Locations include the break room, coffee areas, the cafeteria, and near water fountains and bathrooms.

Draw Names

Decide on a method of drawing names for the gift exchange. True to the digital age, several online Secret Santa generators exist. These generators allow you to put in the names of all the participants, then it randomly matches them up. You also can do it the old-fashioned way and write all the names down on strips of paper and mix them up in a bag or box. Have participants come up one by one and draw names.

Exchange Gifts

If your company hosts an annual Christmas party, this is a perfect opportunity to exchange gifts. Otherwise, you may swap gifts at a time that's convenient for everyone, such as before work starts, during a lunch break or right after work. When you're ready, have everyone swap gifts, revealing who his Secret Santa is. Another idea is to have the recipients collect their gifts, then give each person three tries to guess who his gift-givers is. If the recipient doesn't guess within three tries, the gift-giver reveals himself.

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