Secret Santa Rules for Work

Secret Santa Rules for Work: What you Need to Know

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The holidays are a time for giving, and what better way to spread the holiday cheer than by participating in a Secret Santa gift exchange at work?

If you’ve never participated in a Secret Santa before, or if you’re looking for some pointers on how to make sure your Secret Santa gift exchange goes smoothly, read on for everything you need to know.

What is Secret Santa?

Secret Santa is a popular Christmas tradition where people exchange gifts with one another. It’s a great way to add some extra fun and excitement to the holiday season! 

In a Secret Santa gift exchange, each participant is assigned another participant at random to purchase a small gift for. The identity of the person who gave you the gift remains a secret until the end of the exchange, when everyone reveals their identity.

There are a few different ways to assign Secret Santa participants. The most common method is to have everyone draw a name out of a hat. 

There are variations of this game, but the basic idea is always the same: giving and receiving presents anonymously. Secret Santa is a great tradition for families, friends, and co-workers alike! 

What Are The Rules For Secret Santa?

The basic rules for secret Santa are simple: each participant is randomly assigned another person to buy a gift for, and they do so anonymously. The only catch is that everyone’s budget is usually the same, so you’ll need to get creative with your gift-giving!

Secret Santa Rules for Work

When participating in a Secret Santa gift exchange at work, there are a few extra rules to keep in mind. 

1. Make sure everyone is comfortable with the idea of receiving a gift from a Secret Santa. If you have any colleagues who might not appreciate a surprise gift, be sure to give them the option to opt out of the exchange. It’s important that it’s fun for everyone so participation should be optional.

2. Set a budget for the gifts ahead of time. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to gift-giving, and it will prevent any awkwardness or hurt feelings if someone feels like they didn’t spend enough on their gift.

3. Keep gifts work-appropriate. This means avoiding anything too personal or offensive, and sticking to items that can be used in the office or that would make a nice desk decoration.

With these guidelines in mind, participating in a Secret Santa gift exchange at work is a great way to spread holiday cheer and get into the spirit of giving!

The Dos And Don’ts Of Secret Santa?

When participating in a Secret Santa gift exchange, there are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind.


  1. Do stay within the budget that has been set for the exchange.
  2. Do try to find a gift that is thoughtful and but not too personal.
  3. Do make sure your gift is appropriate for the workplace.
  4. Keep the identity of your receiver a secret.


  1. Don’t wait until the last minute to shop for a gift. 
  2. Don’t give a gift that is overly personal or intimate. 
  3. Don’t give a gift that could be perceived as offensive.
  4. Don’t reveal the identity of your receiver to anyone.
  5. Don’t tell anyone what you’ve bought.

Set a Secret Santa Theme

One of the best ways to ensure that everyone participating in the Secret Santa gift exchange enjoys it is to pick a theme. That way, everyone knows what kind of gifts to get and there’s less room for guesswork (and potential hurt feelings). Some popular Secret Santa themes include:

Gag gifts: This is a classic Secret Santa theme and one that’s sure to get a few laughs. Just be careful not to go too far and offend anyone with your gag gift! 

Funny gifts: Similar to gag gifts, funny gifts are a great way to add some light-heartedness to the Secret Santa gift exchange. Again, just be mindful of everyone’s sense of humor and don’t give a gift that could potentially be offensive. 

Practical gifts: If you want to avoid the potential for hurt feelings or misunderstandings, stick to practical gifts that everyone can use. Think office supplies, gift cards, or even something as simple as socks or a mug. 

Theme-related gifts: Pick a theme related to the holidays or to the current season (winter, spring, summer, fall) and have everyone get a gift related to that theme. For example, if you choose winter as your theme, everyone could get a festive mug or scarf. 

Once you’ve decided on a theme, be sure to communicate it clearly to everyone participating in the Secret Santa gift exchange. That way, there are no surprises and everyone knows what kind of gifts to get.

Decide On a Budget

Another important consideration for your Secret Santa gift exchange is budget. You’ll want to decide on an amount that’s comfortable for everyone participating and make sure that everyone is aware of the budget in advance. That way, there are no awkward moments when someone receives a significantly more expensive (or less expensive) gift than they gave. 

What is a Good Limit for Secret Santa?

A general rule of thumb is £5-£10 per person, but you may want to adjust this depending on your specific circumstances. Determining how much to spend on a Secret Santa gift at work is an important consideration, and important to make sure that everyone is comfortable with the budget. 

If you’re not sure what a good limit is for your Secret Santa gift exchange ask around to get a sense of what everyone is comfortable with. Keeping the budget low will ensure everyone can participate without breaking the bank and also make sure the focus is on having fun, not on spending a lot of money.

Set A Date For The Exchange

Once you’ve got all the details ironed out, it’s time to set a date for the Secret Santa gift exchange. This is important to do in advance so that everyone can clear their schedules and be sure to be there for the big reveal. Choose a date and time that works well for everyone and send out a reminder a few days in advance.

One of the best parts of a Secret Santa gift exchange is the big reveal at the end. Be sure to set aside enough time for this part of the event so that everyone has a chance to open their gifts and see what they got. 

How to Exchange Gifts in a Secret Santa?

To keep everyones identity a secret it is best to assign a place for presents to be left in advance of the gift giving. This way when everyone arrives the presents are ready to be given out and there is no danger of anyone seeing who brought what. A good place to leave the gifts is under a tree but any designated area will do. 

If you are doing the exchange virtually, you will want to set up a designated time for everyone to open their gifts. This works best if there is a group video call so that everyone can see each other’s reaction to their present. 

What To Do If Someone Can’t Make The Exchange or Fails to Buy A Gift?

If someone can’t make the date of the exchange, you can either arrange for them to send their gift to the person they were supposed to give it to, or give the Secret Santa gift that was intended for the person that can’t make it to the person they were meant to be buying for. 

For example:

John should buy a gift for Rachel

Peter should buy a gift for John

If John can’t participate then Peters gift for him should go to Rachel.

If someone completely fails to buy a gift, they can either be given a penalty (like having to buy a round of drinks for everyone at the next social outing) or be excluded from the exchange altogether. It’s up to you to decide what the consequences will be.

The important thing is to be flexible and to not let the Secret Santa gift exchange get too complicated or stressful. Remember, the point is to have fun!

How and When do you Reveal Everyones Identity in a Secret Santa?

Anonymous gifts are a fun way to give and receive presents, but there’s always that one person who guesses everyone’s identity correctly. So, how and when do you reveal everyone’s identity in a Secret Santa? 

The most obvious way is to simply reveal everyone’s identity after the game is over. This takes away the suspense but isn’t much fun. It’s a good idea if you’re all short on time but if you’ve got a bit more time to spare, try one of these ideas:

1. Wait until the end of the game and then have everyone guess the identity of their gifter. Whoever gets it right wins a prize! 

2. If you want to keep the mystery alive a little longer, you can leave clues inside the gifts. For example, if your Secret Santa is from Italy, you might put Italian chocolate or a note with Italian words in the gift. Or if your Secret Santa is a fan of a certain sports team, you might put a shirt or hat with the team’s logo in the gift. 

3. Make it into a quiz and see who can guess the most identities correctly. Whoever guesses the most wins a prize!

Revealing everyone’s identity doesn’t have to be boring. With a little bit of planning, you can make it into a fun game that everyone will enjoy.

What Are Secret Santa Clues?

If you want to add an extra element of fun to your Secret Santa gift exchange, you can include secret Santa clues. These are clues that each person leaves for the person they’re buying a gift for, in order to give them a hint about what their present might be and/or the gift givers identity.

For example, if I was buying a mug for my Secret Santa, I might leave a clue that says “this gift will help you stay warm all winter”. Clues can be as simple or as elaborate as you want, and adding them is a great way to add an extra element of fun to the exchange.

To make things more fun you could get everyone to guess the identity and gift of their secret Santa in advance by putting their guesses in a post box. These can be a lot of fun to read out before the gift giving begins!

If you want to add secret Santa clues to your exchange, be sure to let everyone know in advance so that they can prepare their own clue.

How do you Give Secret Santa Clues?

Giving clues that aren’t too obvious can be tricky. Coming up with a good clue that will help your giftee guess your identity without giving too much away can be daunting, but don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with a few tips on how to give Secret Santa clues that are both fun and challenging.

1. Try to come up with a clue that could have multiple meanings. For instance, if you’re gifting a book, your clue could be “this gift will help you escape from reality”.

2. Don’t make it obvious. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that your clue can’t be directly linked back to you. If you know you share a love of the same hobby try not to give yourself away by making the clue too specific.

3. Keep it short and sweet. Don’t risk giving too much away and spoiling the surprise.

4. Have fun with it! Giving secret Santa clues is supposed to be fun so try not to take it too seriously.

5. Get creative! There’s no need to stick to traditional clues. If you’re feeling stuck, try thinking outside the box for some fun and unique ideas.

Secret Santa Gift Ideas

If you’re stumped on what to get your Secret Santa, here are a few gift ideas to get you started:

  • A nice pen or pencil set
  • A journal or notebook
  • A festive mug or ornament
  • A gift card to a favourite coffee shop or restaurant
  • An office supply item, like a stapler or paper clips
  • A book related to their hobbies or interests

How do you Make Secret Santa More Interesting?

There are a few ways you can make Secret Santa more interesting:

1. Set some specific rules for the gift such as it having to be purple or begin with the letter ‘G’. 

2. Set a rule that the gift has to be handmade by the giver whilst staying within budget.

3. Make it a themed exchange and have everyone buy a gift related to a particular topic or hobby.

4. Add an extra element of fun by including secret Santa clues.

5. Get everyone to guess the identity and gift of their secret Santa in advance.

Whichever way you choose to make it more interesting, be sure to let everyone know in advance so that they can prepare accordingly. Secret Santa is a great way to have some fun and spread some holiday cheer, so get creative and make it your own!

How do you do a Twist on Secret Santa?

Secret Santa gift exchanges are a great way to add some fun and excitement to your holiday season, but sometimes it’s nice to mix things up a bit. If you’re looking for a way to put a twist on your Secret Santa exchange, here are a few ideas:

Arrange A “White Elephant” Exchange – This is a fun twist on the traditional Secret Santa exchange where everyone brings a funny wrapped gift that is given out at random. The gift should be a “white elephant” that is more trouble than it’s worth or something silly that will get a good laugh. The “catch” is that you can either keep the gift you receive or “steal” someone else’s. This is a great way to add some extra fun and excitement to your exchange as everyone tries to snatch up the best (or least troublesome) gifts!

To keep costs down you could arrange a secret Santa where the rules involve gifting an item that you already have at home. This is a great way to declutter and get rid of unwanted items whilst still spreading some holiday cheer. You could also gift an item from a charity shop or make something yourself.


Secret Santa is a great way to add some fun and excitement to your workplace during the holiday season. By following these simple rules and guidelines, you can ensure that your Secret Santa experience is positive for everyone involved. So go ahead and start planning—Secret Santa season is just around the corner!


Are you Supposed to tell who your Secret Santa is?

It is generally considered bad etiquette to reveal who your Secret Santa is. The point of the game is to remain anonymous, so if you do reveal yourself, you may ruin the fun for everyone involved.

Is it OK to Give a Gift Card for Secret Santa?

Yes, gift cards are perfectly acceptable Secret Santa gifts. Just be sure to choose a card that is appropriate for the person you are giving it to, and within the budget you have set.

Should Secret Santa Gifts be Wrapped?

Yes, Secret Santa gifts should always be wrapped. This helps to maintain the element of surprise and makes the gift exchange more fun for everyone involved. Make sure to write the receivers name on the present where it will be clearly seen.

Do you put your Name on a Secret Santa Gift?

No, you should not put your name on a Secret Santa gift. The point of the game is to remain anonymous, so if you do reveal yourself, you may ruin the fun for everyone involved. You should ensure the name of the person you are buying the gift for is obvious and can be read clearly on the present using a gift tag or label. 

How Many People do you Need for Secret Santa?

You will need at least three people to play Secret Santa. However, the game can be played with any number of participants and the more people involved the better.

Christmas Planners

Check out our Christmas planners designed to make Christmas planning easy. We’ve made sure everything  you need is included, from budgeting to gift lists, and more!

If you’re looking for Christmas planning tips check out our post about Christmas planning through the year. We’ve broken down all of the most important tasks into easy month-by-month tasks so you’ll be organised and ready for Christmas.

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