“Please tell me! Pleeeease!” my niece begged over the phone. We were two weeks away from Christmas, and she was dying to know who drew her name for our family’s big Secret Santa game. “The surprise is part of the fun,” I explained, knowing full well that hearing such words was agony to a seven-year-old. I remembered how, when I was a kid, my sister and I would conspire with our cousins to trade gift recipients and try to figure out who had drawn whose name, though we never seemed to guess right (which only added to the fun once we finally opened our gifts).
Unwrapping our presents was fun, but what we really loved about playing Secret Santa was the big reveal. My mom came up with different ways to unveil who was paired together each year. Now that I’m all grown up, we’re still constantly trying to think up new ways for everyone to discover the identity of their Secret Santa.
These silly, festive Secret Santa reveal game ideas make opening your present about more than just the gift you’re getting. They will remind everyone that the real point of the game is to foster bonding and generosity between friends, family, and coworkers and help that feeling of closeness last throughout the new year.
Bash Your Way to Secret Santa Discovery
Growing up, we had a piñata at just about every party or holiday season celebration. After all, who doesn’t like to take a few whacks at a tissue-paper covered Pokemon every now and then? But one of my favorite piñata memories is the year we had one at Christmas. Instead of playing a traditional Secret Santa game, where each person is assigned someone to buy a small gift for, we just set a price limit and had everyone bring a wrapped gift with their own name on it. Then, we put everyone’s names on slips of paper and put them inside the piñata.
We took turns bashing the piñata, until finally, on my sister’s turn, it burst open. As the pieces of paper flitted to the ground like snowflakes, all of us (even the grownups!) rushed forward to take a piece of paper off the ground. After reading the name, we chose the corresponding gift from the table and opened it. It was a fun new way to shake up our Christmas tradition, combining an action-packed game with the extra surprise that came from not knowing who would get the present you brought or what present you would end up unwrapping.
Send Them on a Scavenger Hunt
Every year, I write out a list of scavenger hunt clues for my kids and my niece on Christmas Eve. When they successfully follow the clues, they’re eventually led to my family’s traditional night-before-Christmas present: a new set of pajamas.
My mom and I have so much fun coming up with quality clues and questions that I decided to expand our venture and set up a similar scavenger hunt for our yearly Secret Santa game. We organized a Secret Santa gift exchange on Elfster and set a price limit. That way, everyone was easily get assigned someone to buy a gift for and could use their online Christmas wish list for ideas when shopping. Then, we asked each secret gift giver to come up with a scavenger hunt that would lead their gift recipient to their present. Each Secret Santa would reveal their identity on the tag on the present, so everyone would get to know who their gift was from before they opened it.
This Secret Santa game reveal idea works best with smaller groups and people who are familiar with the location where you’ll be exchanging the gifts (i.e. families who are staying at the host’s house for the holidays or a small group of coworkers who can host the scavenger hunt in the office). It’s a way to make the suspense and excitement of the Secret Santa game last longer. Plus, creating the scavenger hunt and then actually playing it is intellectually stimulating and will really make you feel like you’ve earned your evening plate of Christmas cookies.
Guess What Santa Looked Like as a Baby
“Who’s the baby that looks like an angry old man?” my daughter asked. We were looking through a family photo album, laughing over the dated fashions and silly childhood antics documented in its pages. “Um, that would be me,” I told her, as she dissolved into laughter.
There’s something about seeing someone’s baby photo that’s equal parts endearing, hilarious, and intimate—especially if you’ve never glimpsed that person as an infant before! That’s why I thought a fun Secret Santa reveal game idea would be a “guess who” variation, but instead of working off of a written clue, each person participating would be given a baby picture. Only when they correctly guess who the picture is of will they discover the true identity of their Secret Santa and be able to open their present.
It’s a quirky Christmas party game for adults to play with friends and co-workers, people who didn’t watch each other growing up. Elect one person to be in charge of organizing the exchange. Each Secret Santa should bring in a copy of a baby photo of themselves, and on the day of the gift exchange, the moderator will give the Secret Santa’s baby photo to their gift recipient. Then, going in a circle, each person has to guess who is in the baby picture they were given.
There’s a lot of laughs to be had as people try to decipher the cherubic facial features in the photos, trying to match dimples and pigtails to beards and bobs. The game gets easier as it goes along, thanks to the simple process of elimination. It’s a great game for getting a group of people to bond, laughing and “aww!”-ing over each other’s baby pics. And getting to open a present at the end doesn’t hurt either!
Secret Santa Game Reveal Ideas to Brighten the Holidays
My family plays Secret Santa every year, but discovering who bought your gift is always the most exciting part. We look forward to shopping for our recipients and finding out who was assigned to us, and the actual exchange never gets old thanks to the fun games we play.
Playing a Secret Santa reveal game puts the emphasis on bonding, spending time together, and getting creative, instead of just on the act of getting a present. It’s my favorite way to refocus the holiday, making it less about getting new possessions and more about how rewarding it is to surprise and delight someone you care for.
Once you choose your favorite Secret Santa reveal game idea, it’s time to start shopping. Get inspiration from Elfster’s Christmas Gift Guides, then share your fave finds on Elfster’s Facebook page, on Twitter @Elfster, on Instagram @Elfster.