Secrets of Santa

Secrets of Santa

Co-workers, classmates exchange gifts in this game

Christmas is the festival of giving and there’s no better activity than ‘secret santa’ that embodies this spirit. The game played amongst a group of people is based on spreading happiness. Commonly played in classrooms and workspaces, it brings people together. 

The rules

The group of people put down their names on chits and randomly pick them up. The person whose name you pick up becomes your ‘elf’ and you, their ‘secret santa’. You are not allowed to reveal who your elf is. Your job as a santa is to send clues to your identity, sometimes along with  small trinkets, to your elf periodically until the decided day of final gift exchange. 

Usually a lower and upper price limit is agreed upon, and come the day of gift exchange elves are supposed to guess their santas to receive their gift.

The process

Like the saying goes, It’s not all about the destination, it’s also the journey. And the journey to the gift exchange is what makes secret santa exciting. While some stick to traditional clues, describing their appearance or likes simply written on a piece of paper; others get more creative. From messages written in invisible ink to complex cryptic codes, secret santas go all out to make the journey an exciting one for their elves. 

Now, the most popular way to deliver your clues is by mail. 

The gift

It’s not always guaranteed that your elf is someone you know. Making sure that you gift your elf something they’d like and appreciate is challenging. To work around these participants sometimes make a list of the items they’d be happy to receive. Other times, santas take friends of their elf in confidence to help them with the gifts. 

Gifting starts small, with a chocolate or trinket being gifted periodically in the lead up to the final day. 


Secret santa tends to be a long drawn process, for a group that wants something quick and just as fun the game of ‘white elephant’ is a popular option.  Here participants bring an amusing and impractical gift, wrapped in unusual ways and keep it at a designated spot.
People pick up gifts at random and open it, they also have the option of ‘stealing’ an already opened gift. The game ends when everyone in the group has a gift. 

These games tend to shift the focus of Christmas from gifts to gift giving. While gifts do play a major role, it’s the anticipation of getting and giving clues that makes the game such a liked activity. They’re also a great way to bring a group together and learn about the likes and dislikes of people in your social group, all while having fun. 

How to play

If you want to play with friends who are not physically present, there are a number of secret santa generators and platforms online. All the aspects of the game such as picking elves, sending anonymous messages and making wish lists are done online. And online delivery services make getting your gift to someone easier too.

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