How Does Secret Santa Work?

Santa Claus spreads the joy of Christmas by giving gifts to good children all over the world on Christmas Eve. His mission is to share happiness, love, and kindness throughout the world. Given what a happy time Christmas can be for so many, it’s safe to say that he completes his goal year after year!

But did you know that you can help Santa Claus spread Christmas joy? Even though Santa does a great job of it on his own, it’s always nice to have some help. Besides, there’s no such thing as spreading too much happiness, so why not do it too? The easiest way to do it during the holiday season is by participating in a Secret Santa.

Secret Santa is a fun tradition where participants exchange gifts. The participants all write their names on a piece of paper. Then, they are either randomly assigned a name or they pick it out from a pile. The name you get is the person you will be giving a gift to on the day the Secret Santa gifts are exchanged.

Everyone will keep the identity of the person they’ll give a gift to a secret. Not only are you supposed to hide who you’ll give a gift to, but you’re also meant to keep what you plan on giving under your hat. That's why it’s call “Secret Santa”, because everything is meant to be a complete secret to make it more surprising! Things are more exciting when it’s surprise, which is why Santa Claus wraps gifts, so you don’t know what they are until it’s time to open them.

The goal of Secret Santa is to make sure that everyone in a group or community gets a gift. It can be a little hard to buy a gift for multiple people, but with Secret Santa, you only need to think about one person. If you want to give extra gifts to people you weren’t assigned to, that’s completely up to you.

Secret Santas are great for office parties, classrooms, neighborhoods, and family gatherings. Participating in one gives you the chance to do something nice for someone you may not interact with often. In trying to get a thoughtful gift for that person, you learn more about them, keep them in your thoughts, and learn to appreciate them.

And, because everyone that puts their name in the pile is guaranteed to get a gift, it helps people feel included no matter how new they are to a group. That's how participating in a Secret Santa event helps Santa spread joy around the world. By encouraging others to be thoughtful and kind, everyone gets to experience Christmas joy!

Secret Santa Around the World

Laughing with a "ho ho ho" while he rubs his belly has been Santa's thing for some time, but did he always laugh like that? Well, people's laughter changes all the time. We start laughing like our best friends, because we like them, or our laughter changes naturally as we grow up.Secret Santa doesn’t work the same exact way all around the world. The basic rules apply, but there are some slight variations.

In Germany, the game is called “Wichteln.” “Wichteln” is when a “Wichtel” (a wight or goblin) does a good deed. Secret Santa is celebrated on December 6th in Germany, but in many other parts of the world, individual groups decide what day to give the gifts instead of doing it on a set date.

In Scandanavia, where the tradition is rumored to have originated, Secret Santa is like a nicer version of ding-dong ditch. Participants leave gifts outside people’s homes, knock, and then run away!

Thanks to our modern, globalized world, the way people participate in Secret Santa is changing. In New Zealand, the New Zealand Post runs a nationwide Secret Santa where participants can send gift to complete strangers all across the country. On the internet, many websites, companies, and non-profits organize online Secret Santas to people can give each other gifts from one end of the globe to another.

Secret Santa Variants

In the United States, there are many Secret Santa variants that make the game a little more fun. The second most popular version of Secret Santa, besides the standard version, is White Elephant.

In this version, participants bring a gift that would be suitable for any of the other participants. It should be wrapped in an inconspicuous way, so nobody can tell what it is until unwrapping it. The gifts are grouped in a pile, and participants take turns claiming and opening a gift. Everyone gets the chance to either keep the gift they claimed or switch it out with a gift already claimed by another person.

Another version is Guessing Secret Santa. Everyone gets a letter alongside their gift from their Secret Santa. Participants then take turns reading the letter aloud and trying to guess who gave them the gift.