10 Secret Santa Strategies To Keep Your Giftee Guessing

sneaky secret santa

Playing dirty? Perhaps. Totally worth it? Oh, yeah!

So you think Secret Santa is just a quaint little yuletide pastime, something akin to fireside chats and a merry jaunt around the mall in a tiny Victorian train? Don’t fall into the trap, folks.

Secret Santa is, and always will be, a GAME. That’s right, a GAME. And in games, as in life, there are winners and there are losers in this game of strategy.

girl holding gift
Develop a Secret Santa Strategy to keep your giftee guessing. | Image courtesy Unsplash user Kira auf der Heide

A Riddle:

At the end of your yearly gift exchange, if you haven’t blindsided your lucky recipient with a mental sucker punch of mistaken identity, did you really Secret Santa at all? The answer is a definite nope.

That’s because it isn’t about the gift. It’s the rosy glow of bragging rights we’re really talking about here. The one that declares you mastermind of merriment… or at least the co-worker with the most free-time on their hands.

And here’s a chilling truth bomb to turn your eggnog to ice: Your recipient will be just as ruthlessly playing the game, too. They’ll be amateur-sleuthing their way to exposing your identity and guessing exactly what you got them, stealing your thunder and sapping the joy right out of the big reveal. (It’s serious business, this Secret Santa thing.)

So if you’re riled-up and ready to play Secret Santa like you mean it, read on. Here are ten helpful tactics to keep you in the game:

Don’t let the cat out of the bag — keep it anonymous! | Image courtesy Etsy seller Hartzstrings

Ask all the wrong questions

You already know your giftee is an Air Supply superfan – they’ve told you a million times. So take advantage of Elfster’s anonymous Q&A feature to play dumb and plant a seed of doubt. A simple, “What’s your favorite band?” can really get the ruse rolling.   

Harness the power of penmanship

Have someone else write the memo attached to your gift. If your recipient is really playing hardball (and we have to assume they will be), they’ll likely enlist the services of a graphologist to decipher your handwriting. Not falling for it.

Try a little wrap artistry

Disguising your gift in an unexpected package is your last line of defense against an educated guess. So slap that tear-off cat calendar in a guitar case and call it a day. Now, if you can’t wrap your own gift, or if your exchange is completely virtual, you can still get creative by improvising on the “sender” line of your gift message or package. Voila! Air of mystery maintained.

Choose your words wisely

Patterns of speech and preferred colloquialisms are unique to every individual. (Detective Work 101, guys.) So forgo your usual turns of phrase when communicating with your beneficiary, and opt for more colorful language instead. You can run your correspondence through a fun translator like this one if you want to get cryptic.  

Make strategic gift suggestions

We know! Like those decorative pink eyelashes for the front of their car! Because who in their right mind would do such a thing?

men talking
Throw your coworkers off the trail with some carefully played mind games. | Image courtesy Pexels user Helena Lopes

Play good old-fashioned mind games

Approach your giftee and say, “Hey So-and-So. Hate to break it to you, but I’m totally your Secret Santa.” Give an exaggerated wink and then coolly walk away.  

Keep playing those mind games

Ask someone else leading questions within earshot of your real recipient. This one’s a twofer, because you’ll really baffle the person you just grilled for two and a half hours!

You guessed it: More mind games

Doodle in your notebook “Gift Ideas for [Anyone Who Is Not Your Recipient].” When your actual giftee sees it carelessly lying open on your desk, be sure to dramatically fumble around as if you’ve been caught red-handed. Mutter something about boundaries and respecting one’s privacy.

santa gift
Post a pic on social media to trick your secret elf. | Image courtesy Unsplash user Jim Kalligas

Make it a social affair!

Share a picture of a beautifully wrapped present on social media, and broadcast something to the effect of: “My Secret Santa is going to love this!!!”

But spoiler alert: It isn’t your real present. When your recipient sees their actual gift wrapped completely differently than the item depicted, they’ll consider the totality of evidence and safely rule you out.

And in case of emergency, break glass:

If the jig is up and your Secret Santa status compromised, now would be a good time to reveal that you’re not actually you after all. You’re, in fact, a secret twin that no one has heard ever about! Click your heels, laugh maniacally and crash-exit through the nearest window, never to be seen again.

Whether or not all the trouble is worth it… Trust us, you will have won.

Connect with friends on Elfster to be a sneaky Secret Santa, and if you need some gift giving ideas, take a look at Elfster’s Gift Guides. Elfster’s Facebook page is also sure to offer some great tips as well. You can also follow Elfster on Twitter @Elfster and on Instagram @Elfster.


About Stephanie K 6 Articles
Stephanie was born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida, which she'll gladly tell you about, prompted or not. She enjoys colorful expressions, loopholes in language and computer-lit evenings with Microsoft Word. When Stephanie's not mulling over age-old riddles of rhetoric, you can usually catch her traveling the globe (or the far reaches of Florida), reading up on world history, or bouncing ideas off her husband and her dog. They know all about Tallahassee, but are still nice to her anyway.