Rules of the Secret Santa Game

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The Secret Santa game is fun as long as everyone follows all the rules.
The Secret Santa game is fun as long as everyone follows all the rules. (Image: santa hat image by William Berry from Fotolia.com)

Doing a Secret Santa game around the holidays can be a better way to manage the exchange of Christmas gifts, especially for an office, a large family or a family on a strict budget. Secret Santa is an easy game to put together and one with easy rules. From getting the name to giving the gift, the game can be a success if everyone follows the rules.

Set a Limit

Limit how much each gift can cost, or the total cost of the gifts, for each participant. When deciding on a limit, do so as a whole with everyone participating. This ensures that everyone can afford to give the gift without feeling embarrassed. Keep everyone's budget in mind to make sure everyone is happy with the arrangement. Stick to the limit to ensure no one feels uncomfortable.

Write Out Names

Have each participant write their name on a slip of paper. On the same paper, have each person write out a wish list of three items for the Secret Santa game. This can save people from having to guess what to buy or from buying something that the recipient simply won't use. Fold each piece in half with the name on the inside.

Choose Names Anonymously

Put all the papers into a bowl. Have each person draw the name of a person for Santa to "visit." If each person cannot be there to pick a name, have a non-participating person pick out the names and notify each person who the Secret Santa pick is. Keep the name you pick secret so no one, especially the recipient, finds out.

Wrap the Gifts Anonymously

When wrapping the gift, don't leave any sign that the gift is from you. Put a label on the wrapped present with the recipient's name on it but put that the gift is from “Santa”--or leave it completely blank. If possible, print out the person's name from the computer onto the label so no one can tell from your handwriting who you are.

Distribute Gifts in Secret

Use different wrapping paper for your Secret Santa gifts than you used if you are also giving other gifts. This helps to ensure that no one knows it's you by the wrapping paper you use. If you are mailing the gifts in, make sure to send the gift to the non-participating party to distribute for you.

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