How to Organize a Secret Santa
STEP 1 - ALERT YOUR COLLEAGUES BY EMAIL. Early in December, send out an e-mail, inform your co-workers that you're organizing the Secret Santa, and ask them to sign up by a specific date (say, 2 weeks before Christmas). Give them the basic rules: 1. TOTAL anonymity, 2. No gifts worth more than £5.00 (or £10.00 or £500.00 if you work in an investment bank, you decide the limit) 3. Don't forget to say it's ok not to take part so some can opt out.
STEP 2 - THE DRAW. Once you have a final list of participants (you might have to send e-mail reminders) and it's now two weeks to Christmas, write down all the names on slips of paper, fold them up, and put them into a box. Gather the participants around and get them to each draw a name from the box at random. THEY MUST NOT REVEAL THE NAME THEY HAVE DRAWN. Don't do this Christmas Eve, this step should happen at a date that gives the participants time to buy the gift!
STEP 3 - SECRECY IS PARAMOUNT. Once everyone has drawn a name, they MUST NOT reveal whose Secret Santa they are, otherwise it's not secret is it !!. You need only a couple of spoilsports to completely ruin a Secret Santa and allow everyone to know who their Santa is. Threaten them with nail pulling or ban them from the Christmas Party if anyone breathes a word. Now that each participant has a name to buy for, they have to go and demonstrate their ingenuity, insight,
humor, and maybe feelings, to buy something unique or creative; or even for that matter, useful; for their chosen recipient ! At this point it is good to remind the secret Santas that the spend limit is RIGID. It's no good if 90% of the participants keep to the limit and 10% go overboard. The idea is to find a gift WITHIN the limit and show your gift buying prowess. Any cheat can double the limit and impress, it takes a real pro to get it right within budget.!
STEP 4 - COLLECTING THE GIFTS. A day or two before the appointed day, get the secret Santas to bring their gifts to you, and without looking, put their gifts in a big bin liner . If you yourself are taken part, it's important that you look away or close your eyes, and get the other participant to do the same. You could of course ask a non participant to do the present collection if you like. Then keep the bag hidden somewhere safe. It is VERY important, of course, that the gift should bear only the name of the receiver, NOT who it's from, and furthermore, it should NOT be handwritten. The recipient should not ever find out who the gift is from. That's part of the fun..
STEP 5 THE DAY. Gather everyone around together on a designated day, maybe the last day that everyone is in the office before the holidays, and distribute the gifts. Everyone now has to open their own gift in front of the other participants, one of whom of course, is their secret Santa ! At this point, in the mayhem and hysteria, inevitably the names of some of the givers are likely be revealed, and the suitability, price, creativity,
humor, etc of the presents will be judged, for better or for worse—all through next year Sandra from IT will always wonder who it was that bought her a Beer Drinker's Helmet, and why !. But again, that's all part of the fun !