How to Do a Virtual Secret Santa Gift Exchange
You don’t have to hold a party in person. Even if you can’t be with your friends, you can hold this Virtual Secret Santa!
Secret Santa gift exchanges are a popular tradition during the holiday season. But since many secret Santa celebrations require you to meet in person to exchange gifts, you may need to rethink your party plans this year. One great way to continue this fun holiday tradition is with a virtual secret Santa party. This alternative is an easy way to practice social distancing while still having some holiday fun.
What is a Secret Santa Gift Exchange?
A secret Santa gift exchange is a Christmas tradition that involves a group of friends or coworkers giving each other gifts anonymously during the holiday season. Everyone in the group puts their name in a bowl to be a part of the gift exchange. Each person draws a name to see who they’ll be purchasing a gift for.
After the name is drawn, they’ll receive a list of gift ideas for that person so they can start shopping. Each participant will purchase a present for their chosen gift recipient, then everyone will come together at a party before Christmas. At the party, all the players exchange gifts and try to guess who their Secret Santa was.
How to Host a Virtual Secret Santa Exchange
While secret Santa is traditionally played in person, there are a few simple changes you can make to the game to be able to host the party completely online. These easy tips can help you host a fun secret Santa gift exchange while still practicing social distancing.
Invite your guests.
Before you can start playing secret Santa, you’ll need to know who will be part of the gift exchange. Reach out to your family, friends, and coworkers to see who is interested in participating in your online secret Santa party. Make sure to ask all your guests for their email address and shipping address so you can invite them to the party and so they can receive their gifts from their secret Santa.
Set up an online party.
One simple way to set up and host your virtual secret Santa party is with the secret Santa generator on Elfster.com. This fun party planner allows each guest to create an online wish list to give participants an idea of gifts to purchase for the event. And as the event host, you can set a budget for each gift and send out invitations directly from the platform. Simply fill out the form after signing up, including the date for your gift exchange and an RSVP deadline for your guests.
Send out invitations.
Once you have a list of participants ready to go, you can start inviting everyone to our secret Santa gift exchange. In addition to using the planning tool on Elfster, you can also send digital invitations to your party to your participant’s emails or create a group on Facebook to keep everyone updated on the event.
Ask for wish lists.
When you send out your digital invites, be sure to ask your guests to create a wish list to help each Santa purchase the perfect gift. You can provide your guests with a template to fill out for their wish list or let them create a list on Amazon or other online retailer.
Match Santas with gift recipients.
As the host, it’s your job to match gift recipients with their secret Santa. You can use an online tool to randomly draw names from your list. Or draw them yourself. To draw the names yourself, print out two lists of names. Keep one list intact and cut out all the names from the other list. Place the cut-out names in a bowl and draw a name. Write that name down next to the first person on the list, then set that name aside. Continue drawing names until all the names on the list have a Santa paired with them.
Email names and gift ideas.
After you have all your Santas set up with gift recipients, you can start letting everyone know who they’ll be shopping for. Email each participant with the name and wish list of their secret Santa so they can start shopping.
Set a shipping deadline.
Since your party will be hosted online, you’ll need to make sure all your secret Santa gifts will be delivered on time. Let your guests know when they should make their purchases to ensure that all the gifts are delivered by the date of the party. Your guests can purchase the gifts in-store and ship them to their secret Santa or order the presents online and have them shipped directly.
Host a virtual party.
Set up a video chat party so everyone can get together to open their gifts. Send the link to your party along with your party invitation or update your guests with the link when you’re ready to start your virtual party. Give everyone a chance to open their gifts on camera. Then, let everyone have fun taking a turn trying to guess who their secret Santa is.
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Christmas traditions are some of the most powerful bonding opportunities for your family. I know the memories I made as a kid at Christmas-time are a strong anchor for me as an adult.
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